Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are appealing to Americans to donate to the Haiti earthquake relief effort, but Bush said on Sunday that with widespread devastation the response will likely take longer than the public wants. President Obama has pledged $100 million in aid, and authorized the Pentagon to mobilize military reserve units to help as needed. Clinton is traveling to the Caribbean nation on Monday to discuss how to coordinate U.S. relief efforts with those of the Haitian government. Is the U.S. doing enough? (Watch a report about orphans in Haiti)
The U.S. should be proud of its response: President Obama has shown the leadership such a calamity requires, says Steven Cohen in The Huffington Post. And it's inspiring to see Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush getting together to announce the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund. "The simple humanitarian impulse that led these national leaders to set aside partisanship represents this country at its very best."
"We have reason to be proud of the American response in Haiti"
The rescue is too slow: Money and supplies are pouring in, says Linda Polman in the London Times, but the rescue operation is "becoming notorious for the slowness with which aid is reaching the victims." Rescue teams have "pulled survivors from five-star hotels" while victims in devastated poor areas — where the United Nations and other foreigners seem afraid to go —wait to see their first foreign rescuer. And Obama isn't helping ease fears by putting the U.S. military in charge.
"Fear of the poor is hampering Haiti rescue"
We could do a lot more: Haiti needs relief donations, but cash isn't enough, says blogger Siun at Firedoglake. The U.S. and organizations such as the International Monetary Fund must send money for Haiti's reconstruction without strings attached — not in the form of loans. The last thing Haiti needs now is more foreign debt, which is one of the things that has crippled the government financially and "led to the weak infrastructure that made the Haitian people so vulnerable" to the earthquake.
"Haiti is waiting"
Compassion for Haitian immigrants will also help: "The Obama administration acted properly, and humanely," by extending temporary amnesty for Haitians in the U.S. illegally, say the editors of The Wall Street Journal. "The suffering and chaos since the earthquake should make it obvious that Haiti is no place to return people whose only crime was coming to America to escape the island's poverty and ill-governance." And since Haitian immigrants as a group are among America's most successful, "we don't mind if they stay here permanently."
This is a long-term job: To help Haiti long-term, we must also "dramatically increase educational opportunities" for those who stay in their country, says Walter Russell Mead in The New York Times. The U.S. contributed to the rough start Haiti got as "the second republic in the Americas" — we and France punished the nation of former slaves in the 1800s for throwing out their French colonial masters. Now we need to help Haiti develop its own "human capital," because creating a larger class of educated professionals will do more for the country's development than foreign aid programs can.
"Is the U.S. doing enough for Haiti?"
SEE MORE OF THE WEEK'S HAITI COVERAGE:
• Haiti disaster: The essential facts
• Pat Robertson's 'hateful' Haiti remarks
• Can Bill Clinton save Haiti?
• Earthquake: Saving Haiti
• The Haiti cruise ship scandal