Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

Saving the World One Disaster at a Time

Earthquake in Haiti and American foreign policy

This is U.S. foreign policy: help those who try to do us in; and ignore our neighbors, especially the poor ones haplessly within our nearest spheres of influence.

We know what happened with our foes in World War II: one was a repeat from War I as well. Another was led by a figurehead of worn-out ancestral tradition.

Luckily for them, when Hitler gave up and the atomic smoke cleared, we had to keep them from falling to Communism, given their proximity to the USSR while the Eastern bloc quickly grabbed a sector of Berlin, scaring us silly. A glance at your world map shows Japan was just off the huge Soviet coast. So American money-love flowed to those who shortly before had wanted our heads; thus the Berlin airlift and the rebuilding of Japan were hardly humanitarian efforts on our part. Thank god for that: you have to be a neighbor of ours to get nothing.

Some years ago an earthquake hit Mexico City. To liken that capital city to an Arab emirate is a stretch, especially at the time. Our biggest charity towards them is sending hordes of cheapskate tourists to drive tough bargains for curios and return home bragging about their “deals.” Indeed, tough negotiators that they are, these Ugly Americans always get the best of those impoverished folks who elbow for room on dirt plazas while tending to babies wrapped in thin blankets. What pals we are!

Mexico City sits atop soft valley loam and, lacking proper footing, buildings didn’t just rattle but were dumped into heaps like, well, like today’s Haiti. So why hadn’t Mexico built better? To cross our southern border is to be painfully reminded that it is more of a third world nation than we like to think. Boy, could they have used some of what we shucked out to rebuild former enemies far away.

But that’s life as a U.S. neighbor, since we don’t want strong nations on our doorstep. That goes for any of them, anywhere, in the sphere of our control. So we do nothing for them unless of course something awful like an earthquake hits. Then we bust humps showing our infinite mercy. When all is said and done, however, Haiti won’t be better but a tad worse.

Similarly, we tsk-tsked over the Asian tsunami and did Our Thing there too, as we do, under such circumstances, the world over. We’re nothing if not the speeding cop cars and fire engines of the universe, rushing to help what prior safety measures or significant, sustainable policies might have pre-empted.

Haiti is not a place we would know or care a fig about until and unless catastrophe strikes. We have invaded it enough times to make you wonder if we want it the way we did Texas when it was part of Mexico. But, naw, we don’t consider Haiti worth it: we just don’t want them consorting with anyone or anything that doesn’t have our stamp of approval. In sum, we can hurt them but we really don’t want to help them.

When the tremor hit Haiti, they didn’t even have earth-movers and cranes to dig out or hoist fallen walls from the hapless victims. When you’re in a struggle for the next bite to eat or pail of fetid water to drink or bathe in, such are the last things on your list and, besides, you can’t afford them anyway.

Why aren’t such folks on our list of Things to Do that would make this hemisphere happy and whole? Are we saying we haven’t had money for that? And if the reason such catastrophes happen to the wretched of the earth is known only to God, then somebody needs to get next to the Big Guy with some probing questions. Meantime, we shall go on thinking we’re wonderful for trying to save the world one disaster at a time.

Whether at last we can save face for what we’ve otherwise done to our closest neighbors, will be for history to record.

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