Thu, Jan 28, 2010 - Page 8 News List

‘UDN’ sees an evil US plot in Haiti

By J. Michael Cole 寇謐將

In a commentary on Jan. 19 on the role of the US in relief efforts in quake-devastated Haiti, the Chinese-language United Daily News went on the offensive on what it claimed were signs of US imperialistic machinations in the impoverished country.

The opening sets the tone for the article: “[A]n international dispute broke out as the Haitian International Airport in Port-au-Prince has been put under the control of the US Armed Forces and the US has prioritized the evacuation of its own citizens,” UDN wrote. “Rescue airplanes from around the world have even been refused clearance to land. According to a foreign news report, France has lodged a formal protest to the US Department of State.”

It continues: “The US acting as the world’s sole superpower is nothing new. Given Haiti’s proximity to the US, Washington’s bossy attitude is also no surprise. [US] President [Barack] Obama promptly pledged a donation of US$100 million in relief assistance after the earthquake struck. No other country can match such an enormous donation. However, the US Air Force putting the Haitian airport under its virtual control is a unilateral act too aggressive in the eyes of other nations.”

“The US extends its influence into other countries using not only its military might and economic strengths, but also its pervasive media network. This time, CNN conducted a ‘Quick Vote’ on its website, asking whether the US should accept Haitian immigrants in the earthquake’s aftermath,” it wrote.

The article then incongruously ties US behavior in Haiti and CNN polls with Taiwan: “CNN had also conducted a ‘Quick Vote’ while reporting on the disaster in Taiwan in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot last August. CNN asked its viewers, ‘Should Taiwan’s leader step down over the slow rescue and relief efforts?’ Such push polling caused quite a stir among the local media in Taiwan when all viewers pointed their fingers at the [President] Ma Ying-jeou [馬英九] administration.”

“However, CNN represents the view of the US, and it has indeed caused a lot of trouble by trying to play a leading role in shaping people’s worldviews […] In the past, China was disliked by Western countries just because its national designation, the Middle Kingdom, implied that it was ‘the center of the world.’ Now looking at what the US has been doing in Haiti, the US has seemingly come to regard itself as the true ‘Middle Kingdom,’” it wrote.

Nowhere in the commentary does the author ask who could, or should, ensure security and order in Haiti, a country with a long history of political instability and warlordism. The only other military presence in the country with enough knowledge of the place to make a difference in ensuring the safety of humanitarian delivery is Canada, which is already overstretched in Afghanistan and could not deploy anything nearly as sizable — and as rapidly — as the US. No country in the region, not even the Chinese UN contingent, has the means to do this, period.

Was the world supposed to stand by, out of political politeness, while things fell apart in Haiti? Whoever wrote the commentary clearly had no understanding whatsoever of Haiti’s domestic situation, history, and the need for Civilian-Military cooperation (CIMIC) during humanitarian emergencies (if one country has experience in and has encouraged CIMIC in recent years, it is the US)

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