Free Markets, Free People

France Claims US Is “Occupying” Haiti

Or at least the French minister in charge of humanitarian relief, Alain Joyandet is making that claim:

“This is about helping Haiti, not about occupying Haiti,” Mr Joyandet said.

Well, yeah, but it’s also about coordinating the flow of traffic in and out of a single runway airport, something which is bound to get a few hackles up. And that’s caused Joyandet’s outburst. He’d apparently been in a scuffle in the control tower of the airfield with the US commander there over a French evacuation flight. It seems he came out on the short end of the confrontation, thus the outburst.

But he’s not the only one complaining:

Geneva-based charity Medecins Sans Frontieres backed his calls saying hundreds of lives were being put at risk as planes carrying vital medical supplies were being turned away by American air traffic controllers.

See previous commentary about the one runway airport. Perhaps a little coordination with those at the airport concerning the arrival of such flights might help integrate them into the landing plan vs. just showing up and demanding a priority for landing?

Just a thought. Of course, my bet is had we relied on the UN, the airport still wouldn’t be functioning. And had the French taken over the aiport, the same criticisms leveled against the US would be leveled against them. In this case, given the situation, they’re just inevitable.

And someone else is having his usual say about the US:

Speaking on his weekly television show, [Hugo] Chavez opined that the U.S. mission in Haiti was a ruse to initiate military occupation.

“I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war,” Chavez said. “They are occupying Haiti undercover.”

President Obama signed an executive order to send 7,000 U.S. troops to the ravaged country as aid organizations attempt to distribute food and water to the survivors.

Chavez, a frequent critic of American intervention, praised the humanitarian effort in Haiti but questioned the need for so many troops.

“Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals – that’s what the United States should send,” Chavez said.

Of course the US has sent doctors, medicine, fuel and field hospitals. But there has to be security as you push these assets out into the community to ensure the lawlessness which has been seen in various areas doesn’t effect the efficiency of the rescue operation. 7,000 troops to provide that sort of security is not a large force (about 1 BCT plus).

Haiti, however, has provided Baby Hugo with another opportunity to break out the anti-Amerianism.

I’ve got to tell you, with the reaction of France and Venezuela to a freakin’ humanitarian rescue mission, it doesn’t seem as if the Obama global, bowing, scraping and apologizing tour produced much goodwill. This doesn’t sound any different than the carping heard when that other guy was around.



43 Responses to France Claims US Is “Occupying” Haiti

  • Chavez can be safely dismissed.  I’m sure that if the USA had sent doctors, medicine, and field hospitals in place of military troops, he would’ve blasted us for not providing the necessary security and “wanting Haiti to fail” or something equally inane.  Sad to see the French playing at politics to score some cheap points, though.
    But I doubt that this will sway Obama, I expect him to continue to insist that he is improving our reputation with the world and perhaps even believing that being thought of as “nicer” makes any difference in global politicking.

  • Chavez is probably annoyed that his one planeload of relief supplies had trouble landing.

  • Hugo Chavez is the Keith Olbermann of Venezuela.

  • The US actually did occupy Haiti once. We didn’t want it. As I read somewhere earlier, the punishment for occupying Haiti, is that you own Haiti.

  • France is welcome to Haiti.  If they think they can help, go for it. The USA needs all the help it can get.  If you can handle it alone, bless you.
    Chavez, stay out. Socialism hasn’t worked anywhere. It’s we the people.

  • Why would we want Haiti? THERE’S NO OIL!

    ……or is there?

    • According to the CIA Factbook page on Haiti, its natural resources are “bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower.”  So nope, no oil.  Apparently, their main export (2/3rds) is clothing, but a quarter of their GDP (twice what they make from exports) comes from remittances.  So, in a sense their primary export is workers.

  • The Haiti relief is a big mess.

    Obama obviously dislikes Haitians.

    • I honestly don’t know the answer to this question, but I think, from what I’ve seen, that the answer is ‘no.’

      Was the Port au Prince airport successfully illuminated the first night so that it could receive transports all night long and be ready for the next morning?

      That’s the first thing I want if I’m running the thing. If I’m told by someone that it can’t be done, I ask them one more time if it will be done and if he says it can’t I dismiss him and find someone who will see to it. There are about five other things I want happening that first night, but that’s first on the list.

      Was it done? If not, it wasn’t a full-bore U.S. response. I place blame at the top of the chain of command.

      • Seriously? Fire people until you get a yes-man?
        If it “can’t be done”, sometimes that’s because it really can’t, for logistical reasons.
        Like, if the lights and generators are already being loaded on the planes… which can’t land because it’s too dark, because the lights and generators aren’t there already.
        Or because they’re six hours away and it’ll be light by the time they get there.
        Frankly, the President doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t even if he wants to) micro-manage such things; he tells the Pentagon to “get it done”, and they handle it.
        If somehow something isn’t handled ideally, it is not the fault of the President, be his name Obama or his name Bush.

  • Occupying Haiti is like winning a trip to Baltimore.

  • You know what? Next time, lets WAIT until we are asked to come in. Let someone else figure out how to get there first.  The world takes us for granted.  Since they all seem to worry about our military might, then lets keep it home.

  • Wall Street Journal today has a nice article (pg A10) with photo, showing the U.S.A.F. air traffic controllers doing their stuff at a folding table  alongside the runway, in 12 on/12 off shifts.  Story says it’s a lotta planes trying all to get onto a li’l runway, with no place to park ’em, either. It says the controllers have been there since the evening after the earthquake, and have landed more than 819 planes as of Monday morning, with 171 on Sunday night alone. I’d link, but don’t have online subscription.

    • My intent is not to be critical of U.S. aid.

      I am interested, however, in knowing how fast the effort unfolded.

      Right now I’m working on the assumption that things started off app. 24-36 hours behind where they should have been. That’s just from an intuitive look at the reports since the quake and could be wrong. But I have a sense that it was a slow start.

      My standard for the U.S. effort is that given Haiti’s location the emergency response should have started immediately and first been on the ground max of three hours after the quake so that the airport could be prepped for overnight operations.

      • Three hours to the ground? Complete bollocks.
        It’s 1212 miles from Eglin AFB (nearest AFB to Haiti) to Port-au-Prince. At the 292 knots cruising speed of a C-130, that’s three and a half hours.
        If we use Miami instead, it’s just over two hours.
        So, if the decision was made the Very Instant that the earthquake was reported, people would have to be rounded up, assigned orders, equipment packed and loaded, and the planes given maximum possible priority (assuming any were available at Miami, but maybe the FANG has some transports…), and if they somehow managed to go from zero, no prep to airborne in an hour, they could barely be landing in time to meet your three hour “max”.
        Real world? Impossible. Nothing moves that fast.

      • “the emergency response should have started immediately and first been on the ground max of three hours after the quake”

        Dream on. It would take longer than that to get the supplies to the airport and load it on the planes. 

        • Needing to be on the ground, doesn’t mean you need to bring anything more than what you need to open the airport. When that’s done, everything else follows.

          And if emergency means emergency, then you have aircraft loaded with first responder equipment and supplies at all times. If you don’t, there’s something wrong.

          • Perhaps you should write your congreesscritter and tell them they need to appropriate more money to have enough aircraft, equipment, supplies, and personnel sitting around an airport 24/7 on alert to cope with any emergency, even if it only happens every five years or so.

    • I havn’t seen any pictures of the airport, but if the controllers are working  alongside the runway there must have been damage to the airport. Obviously the parking, taxiing,  and unloading facilities, which were probably insufficient *before* the earthquake, are even less so now. It takes a while to unload an airplane by hand. And a lot of hands. The runway may also have been damaged, and I am sure it wasn’t all that great to start with, either. 

      At any rate, the delays cannot be much worse than flying into, or out of, Chicago.

      • Further on the airport situation, from WaPo yesterday, re Lt. Gen. Keen: “His biggest nightmare: A plane delivering supplies has a flat tire on the one runway at the airport. “I’m out of business,” he said. “That blocks the whole runway and we don’t have the equipment to move it.” They’ve got one runway and one taxiway, and 8-10 parking spots for planes. They have no fuel, so arriving planes have to carry enough fuel not only to allow for diversion, but also with enough fuel for its return. And the airport is only good for delivery of what can be carried in an airplane or a ship-based helicopter.
        Do also remember, they don’t just have all this stuff just sitting around somewhere in the U.S. at a convenient location, waiting for the next emergency. One example is heavy equipment that can’t come by air. They need to marshal various equipment at a U.S. port, find a ship & get it to the same port, load it all along with operators, spare parts, fuel, and support supplies. Those operators, you’ve got to have shelter, food, water, comms, as well as security for them. You’ve got to have a plan: Like, where is all this stuff going to go once it gets to Haiti?
        You don’t just say, “Make it so,” and it happens. It takes time to get it done right, or it causes more problems than it solves.
        OTOH, what a great place to send all those Katrina trailers that we don’t need anymore, eh?

        • Question:
          What about transiting through the Dominican Republic, which has (according to Wikipedia, so grain of salt time) nine international airports, six domestic ones, and one military one?

          • I’ve been asking that same question for a while and the answer I get is they are doing so to a limited degree, but to truck the stuff into Haiti they have to go across a mountain range in which the roads are poor at best. That said, I say turn all the roads into egress only routes (except one or two for empty trucks to return on), get engineer support up there grading and improving the roads and get to trucking stuff in.

            That’s obviously way too simple a solution so it’s probably been ruled as infeasible by some UN bureaucrat.

  • “Right now I’m working on the assumption that things started off app. 24-36 hours behind where they should have been.” I did not realize that the Pentagon was first and foremost a search, rescue, relief organization. The Haitians are lucky that the Vinson had just finished maintenance at Newport News. I’m proud to be a citizen of the USA which never fails to hustle to the scene of major natural disasters without waiting for the “world community” to decide on a plan. I don’t even mind my taxes going to support these efforts. I don’t ask for everlasting gratitude in return, just a hat tip of recognition is fine. If I am ever in a disaster situation, I would much rather have an armed US Marine at my side than a UN flunky.

    • I don’t care what the job is. If the military is going to be involved it should be all in. And it’s not a time for head-scratching if the mission involves tens of thousands of lives.

      And I want to know how the command reacted when time was of the essence, because that could be us buried in rubble.

      I still don’t know if the airport in Port au Prince was open for business the first night, all night. It should have been.

  • There is a good overhead view of Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport at;

    http://chamorrobibleorg/images/photos/gpw-201001-United StatesAirForce-100116-F-6188A-030-Toussaint-Louverture*****

    Never mind.

    photos #23, #24,#26,…

    As you can see, there ain’t a whole lot of room there, and there ain’t no unloading facilities for air freight.

    If that don’t work, google it yourself;
    “Toussaint Louverture International Airport, satellite photo”.

  • Then there is the small matter of fuel and maintainance.

  • I nominate “Martin McPhillips” for head of FEMA. He knows how to get things done.

    • I second the nomination. Then we can all sing a chorus of, “Heckuva job, Marty!”

  • I think Marty is asking legit questions…maybe a little too fast to fire people though (unless he has experience managing emergencies.) We probably do have people who know what to do, and have stuff pre-positioned, etc.
    I would guess that they first need to have the Haitians allow us in, and State department is in charge of that.

  • I realize that this is an old topic by now, but Glenn Reynolds has a good article up at Popular Mechanics re: taking care of yourself during the 3 days to 2 weeks that it might take for relief to arrive after a disaster in the U.S. It’s worth a quick read (and maybe some longer & more thorough consideration.)
    Find it here: