Posted under Interventionism
I wanted to post this debate last week from Antiwar.com about interventionism/non-interventionism in the wake of the Haitian earthquake. I can see the points that both Eric Margolis and Justin Raimondo are making.
Where I would come down on the interventionist side concerns both location and the lack of good options available. Haiti, unlike Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq and Kosovo, is not thousands of miles away from the U.S. it’s sits just 200-300 miles from Florida. The U.S. is the only nearby entity available that has both the equipment, the infrastructure and the lift to be able to facilitate large amounts of aid to in a mass casualty disaster, like it or not. Doing nothing while those in Haiti beg for our assistance is grossly un-Christian and to criticize the military’s involvement reminds one of an old Onion headline: “Libertarian reluctantly calls Fire Department to put out fire in home”
However, Justin is right to point out that the U.S. tragedy in Somalia started out as a “humanitarian mission,” we were going to feed starving people. The problem was the people of Somalia were not starving just because of bad weather, they were starving because clan-based warlords were using food as a weapon in their struggle to control the country. Feeding people would inevitably require a political solution and trying to do so put U.S. troops at risk, unnecessarily as it turned out. One can also justify our presence in Afghanistan or Iraq or intervention in Kosovo as “humanitarian” as well.
What I feel makes Haiti different is both location and the suddenness and shock of what happened. It may very well be that shoddy construction practices contributed to thousands of deaths but this is also an area where earthquakes are more rare than hurricanes, one takes priority over the other. An earthquake is also not a political act or something cause by man. It has to be fixed by man.
An intervention that leads a joint U.S.-UN protectorate over the country to get it back on its feet (with the U.S. leaving shortly thereafter) would be the best of a lot of bad solutions. To do nothing could very well lead to a Camp of the Saints situation with Haitians by the millions either leaving Hispaniola by boat or flooding into the Dominican Republic putting that nation in grave danger. This would destabilize the entire Caribbean region and not to mention send millions of poor souls to travel by leaky boat through shark infested waters to get to the U.S. And do you think the first black, or at least half-black president, president is going to keep desperate Haitians from entering the U.S.? Neither did I. Of course we could declare Haiti the 51st state or a U.S. territory like Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. But given the fact such status would still lead to mass migration, this time legalized mass migration, it’s also not a long-term solution either. Interventionism to help the Haitian people from this disaster may be the only way to prevent bigger calamities from taking place.
Again, non-interventionism is not nor should be an ideology with set guidelines and little red books. Sometimes you’ve got to be flexible in extreme circumstances, especially if there are bigger problems that non-interventionism cannot solve.