Chris Hondros, Getty Images
Simply getting through the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. to collect the dead bodies, an aid worker reported over the weekend, is seemingly an impossible task in the wake of the unimaginable devastation.
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Just about four-and-a-half years ago the Gulf Coast of the United States was devastated by a hurricane that forced the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents from the City of New Orleans and left nearly 1,500 people dead in the State of Louisiana alone.
Last week, our neighbor (New Orleans is only 384 miles – a short day’s drive -- closer to the White House than Port-au-Prince), the Republic of Haiti, was flattened by an earthquake of even greater proportions. The Haitian disaster was like Katrina on steroids – more than 100 times over.
Already there are 72,000 recorded deaths, resultant from the earthquake. Aid workers estimate that 100,000 people are still buried in the rubble and that the final death toll is sure to exceed 200,000 souls. In addition, 2 million men, women and children – more than 20 percent of Haiti’s population – are homeless, hungry and without hope.
I cannot… I will not… believe that Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States, is going to allow Haiti to wallow in this tragedy like George W. Bush hung New Orleans out to dry in the previous administration.
Even at that, within days of Katrina’s landfall, on Aug. 29, 2005, Congress appropriated more than $60 billion to assist the people of the Gulf Coast.
By comparison, sections of Port-au-Prince today – not to mention villages even closer to the earthquake’s epicenter – make New Orleans’ St. Bernard Parish look like a Sunday picnic! And, unlike New Orleans, Port-au-Prince was already the capital of the poorest nation in this hemisphere, even before the earthquake.
I do not believe that any serious-minded person, anywhere in the world, believes that the United States wants to occupy Haiti by military force, as the French Cooperation Minister Alain Joyandet foolishly charged this week. But I do believe that we must lead the international effort to get Haiti back on her feet, and that we cannot be stingy about it.
Mr. President, let’s face it: The $100 million you have pledged to our needy friends and neighbors in Haiti is stingy – a mere pittance of what we can and must afford to contribute to what is, and must be, a truly multi-national effort.
Times are tough. Budgets are tight. We all know that.
Let me make a suggestion: I have seen published reports that those 30,000 troops we will send to Afghanistan, in the coming months, will cost taxpayers about $1 million per soldier per year.
How about we send only 29,000 troops to the Afghan War this year? That would save us about $1 billion!
A billion dollars. Now, there’s a contribution to life, health and goodwill in Haiti that the compassionate, generous, caring people of the United States and their president could be proud of. And, in a way, even Afghanistan would be making a small contribution to the cause of Haitian relief.
Very truly yours,
Lloyd H Weston
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