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January 21, 2010

The surplus population

By: John Caruso

Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses?  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me?  Ha ha, just kidding!  Actually they should rot in the hellhole we've helped to create for them, and if they don't we'll throw them in another one:

United States officials say they worry that in the coming weeks, worsening conditions in Haiti could spur an exodus. They have not only started a campaign to persuade Haitians to stay put, but they are also laying plans to scoop up any boats carrying illegal immigrants and send them to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. [...]

The State Department has also been denying many seriously injured people in Port-au-Prince visas to be transferred to Miami for surgery and treatment, said Dr. William O’Neill, the dean of the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, which has erected a field hospital near the airport in the Haitian capital.

"It’s beyond insane," Dr. O’Neill said Saturday, having just returned to Miami from Haiti.

No, it's beyond immoral, but it's perfectly sane (and just as predictable).  The Obama administration will do just what other administrations have done in similar circumstances: posture as much as it thinks it needs to while the cameras are rolling, while taking as little concrete action as it thinks it can get away with (and reversing itself as soon as it's politically tenable).  For example, Obama's Guantanamo plans are straight out of the Clinton administration:

[In] the 1992 election campaign, Bill Clinton campaigned on a pledge to reverse what he called then-President George HW Bush’s "cruel policy" of holding Haitian refugees at Guantanamo with no legal rights in US courts. Upon his election, however, Clinton reversed his position and sided with the Bush administration in denying the Haitians legal rights. The Haitians were held in atrocious conditions and the new Democratic president was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (sound familiar?).

And during the US attack on Yugoslavia the Clinton administration initially tried to defuse growing criticism of its refusal to take in any Kosovo Albanian refugees by announcing a plan to temporarily relocate 20,000 of them to Guantanamo, which administration officials admitted was "selected to eliminate the possibility that some of the refugees might be able to claim political asylum in the United States."  Clinton eventually abandoned the Guantanamo plan and allowed some Albanians into the continental US, in part due to public outcry over the blatant hypocrisy.  We'll see if Obama's "cruel policy" of corralling traumatized Haitians at Guantanamo meets with a similar reaction (and a similar fate), but I think it's likely that Haiti will drop off the front pages soon enough that he'll be able to get away with it.

Clinton wasn't our first black president, but Obama is most definitely our first black President Clinton.

— John Caruso

Posted at January 21, 2010 03:44 AM

I have now officially completed the transition from waiting for the Bush Administration to be over to waiting for the Obama Administration to be over.

Posted by: Guest at January 21, 2010 05:48 AM

If Plan Elect Sarah goes according to plan, it could be as little as three years!

There are vaguely possible ways it could be shorter than that, but in my projections they mostly seem to lead to martial law.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at January 21, 2010 06:52 AM

"So, is Haiti hopeless? Is Bill O’Reilly right? He said: “Once again, we will do more than anyone else on the planet, and one year from today Haiti will be just as bad as it is right now.”

No, he’s not right. And this is the most pernicious myth of all. In fact, Haiti in recent years has been much better managed under President René Préval and has shown signs of being on the mend.

Far more than most other impoverished countries — particularly those in Africa — Haiti could plausibly turn itself around. It has an excellent geographic location, there are no regional wars, and it could boom if it could just export to the American market.

A report for the United Nations by a prominent British economist, Paul Collier, outlined the best strategy for Haiti: building garment factories. That idea (sweatshops!) may sound horrific to Americans. But it’s a strategy that has worked for other countries, such as Bangladesh, and Haitians in the slums would tell you that their most fervent wish is for jobs. A few dozen major shirt factories could be transformational for Haiti.

So in the coming months as we help Haitians rebuild, let’s dispatch not only aid workers, but also business investors. Haiti desperately needs new schools and hospitals, but also new factories.

And let’s challenge the myth that because Haiti has been poor, it always will be. That kind of self-fulfilling fatalism may be the biggest threat of all to Haiti, the real pact with the devil."

I'm shocked, shocked to find an NYT op-ed advocating neoliberal policies and praising the consequences of antidemocratic intervention (without mentioning that it's happened).

Best of all, this was linked to by the Daily Kos without any comment on this aspect of the article.

Posted by: me at January 21, 2010 08:57 AM

For any Pollyannas out there trying to think constructively, Robert Parry has a good article, entitled How Obama Lost His Way, over at Consortiumnews.

This is the concluding paragraph:

"But the problem is not just Obama and his accommodationist strategies. It is that he and others must present a strong argument to the American people for real change – and then must fight for it, hard."

Posted by: N E at January 21, 2010 09:08 AM

Obama has always reminded me of the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He just wants to get on with everyone, and thinks there's a "Third Way", cherry-picking the best bits of the left and right. His attempts to reach out to the Reps when there was plainly no hope of that happening was an indication of that. The people around him are more cynical-- those who are not are being expelled one by one-- but I think he probably thinks he'd doing the right thing. He's listening to them and ignoring outside advice. That's his main failure. I don't think it's a correct analysis see him as a Nixon, or even a Clinton.

On Haiti: bit more context.

Posted by: me at January 21, 2010 09:55 AM

Tony Blair? Hmm, he doesn't strike me as quite the charmer Blair is, but I know little about Blair. Obama has modeled himself after Lincoln, but what we need, and what he needs to be, is FDR.

Posted by: N E at January 21, 2010 11:14 AM

The other thread is close so I cant respond and i dont want to turn this into our personal battle in every thread at ATR so this is truly my last comment regarding this....You can have the last word if you want.

The comparison to Stalin was regarding the commitment of both-Stalin and Wilson, and state reactionaries in general-to the self determination of others, especially slaves living in the US created hell hole of Haiti. If Wilson really did believe in it, which was impossible from the outset because of the dynamics of capitalism/imperialism and the reliance of such on force and violence in order to protect US capitalist imperialism in Haiti, he would not be sitting in the White House to begin with. Simply not possible....He might have been sitting in jail instead, but not the White House.. You don't get to the the top of an authoritarian hierarchical structure unless you internalize the values of such. And the self determination of colonies is anathema to that structure, just as it is to state Leninist doctrine. That's the comparison i was making and both use noble self serving rhetoric-that I don't doubt they themselves believe- to justify repression in their "spheres of influence."-Tony

Posted by: tony at January 21, 2010 01:08 PM

According to a report on Democracy Now (and now I can't find the specific section), cargo planes fly over the island all the time saying, in effect, "Don't even think about it," re coming to the U.S. And agin, I ask, why don't Haitians who want to leave try for Cuba, which is so close. Surely they'd be accepted. Does anyone have any clue? (And no, I'm not suggesting they should have to leave, only that if they want to, why not choose a place that would likely welcome them. After all, Cuban doctors and other med personnel are in Haiti all the time, not just after coups, earthquakes, etc.)

Posted by: catherine at January 21, 2010 02:57 PM


You get the prize. I thought I had become the most perseverative commenter around, but I was obviously flattering myself! There's much in your new comment that I still disagree with, but I think I get it. Whole libraries of books argue some of those points. Sorry that I construed what you said as less heady.

Posted by: N E at January 21, 2010 03:33 PM

me, I'm hoping that's sarcasm because as any regular reader of this blog will know, NYT isn't exactly a paper that values integrity, politics aside.

This indefensible NYT article was especially harrowing, no doubt because it was at a time when it was at the very least politically correct to question rampant war. What excuse did the NYT have for writing this?

"'Beginning today, visitors can no longer enter a helicopter for simulated firing of a machine gun at targets in a diorama of the Vietnam Central Highlands. The targets were a hut, two bridges and an ammunition dump, and a light flashed when a hit was scored... demonstrators particularly objected to children being permitted to “fire” at the hut, even though no people appear there or elsewhere in the diorama... visitors, however, may still test their skills elsewhere in the exhibit by simulated firing of an anti-tank weapon and several models of rifles’."

(I'd love to post links, if I knew how to embed them into the post.)

And Daily Kos? Markos Moulitsas is a DEMOCRAT what else did you expect from an ass?

Hit or miss jokes aside..

Catherine, forget the C-130s and their cynical broadcasts. I'd look towards the coast. Remember all those ships that initial news reports said were sent to "help"?

"The unprecedented air, land and sea operation, dubbed "Vigilant Sentry", was launched as a senior US official compared Haiti's destruction to the aftermath of nuclear warfare... As well as providing emergency supplies and medical aid, the USS Carl Vinson, along with a ring of other navy and coast guard vessels, is acting as a deterrent to Haitians who might be driven to make the 681 mile sea crossing to Miami. 'The goal is to interdict them at sea and repatriate them," said the US Coast Guard Commander Christopher O'Neil'"

Nothing like a blockade to show you care.

Although even Cuba's generosity will most definitely stop short of inheriting a refugee crisis, unfortunately, it looks like no one is getting off that island anyway.

N E, its interesting that you say we need an FDR. Didn't his administration deny Admiral Kimmel advance knowledge of the Pearl Harbor attacks? Wasn't the McCollum memo recently declassified, solid evidence of the deception? May I claim that the stunning revelations in the bi-partisan National Defense Authorization Act of 2000 had at least some iota of truth?

But that'd make me a conspiracy theorist now wouldn't it :-).

Posted by: Nikolay Levin at January 22, 2010 03:07 AM

Nikolay, and anyone else who's still mystified about how to embed links in a post:

[a href="http://link.url"]linkable text [/a]

Replace the square brackets with pointy brackets to make it work.

What's between the quotes is the full URL of the link. What's between the sets of brackets is the short text you want to use to describe the link.


[a href=""]John Caruso's post on Obama and Haiti[/a]

Replacing the square brackets with pointy ones produces this result:

John Caruso's post on Obama and Haiti

Please, ATR commenters: consider saving this info to a little text file so you can embed links. Readers are less likely to follow up on plain-text URLs, which have to be copied and pasted into a browser address line. (Plain-text links with no accompanying description of what the link is are least likely to be used.)

Posted by: Nell at January 23, 2010 01:26 PM


Not even FDR was perfect--that just doesn't happen! I consider Stinnet's book about the foreknowledge of the attack on Pearl conclusive, so I agree with your point, though I don't know anything about the "stunning revelations" in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000. I'm interested in what you refer to.

FDR and Stinson and Knox and the top of naval intelligence and marshall and the top of army intelligence all seem to have known that Pearl was going to be attacked. But Nikolay, it's not hard for me to see why FDR went along with that plan, which originated in naval intelligence. In the summer of 1941, our military expected the USSR to be defeated within months, which would have left Germany in control of all of Europe, Britain in a very vulnerable position that might undermine Churchill's hard line, bright the appeasement crowd back into control, and force a peace. Then there wouldn't have been Henry Luce's American Century, or at least not so much. (An important book urging US opposition to Hitler and the Nazis in 1941 was "You Can't Do Business with Hitler.") Now, we often have behaved very badly since WWII, but our fellow-travelers with the Nazis haven't ever really gotten full control, and even our worst sins were still the unwritten future to FDR, who hoped that it would turn out differently. Still, you have a good point. Ihe duplicity and chicanery surrounding the attack at Pearl taints my view of FDR. But his unsuccessful efforts to set up a world rid of colonialism and bring a New Deal to the whole world props him right back up in my eyes. Plus, the bankers hated him.

Posted by: N E at January 23, 2010 11:43 PM

I didn't think magicians shared their secrets, but by golly, Nell, thank you.

Posted by: N E at January 24, 2010 08:33 AM

Nell, NE beat me to it but I feel some gratitude from me was necessary as well, thank you.

Yes there is something bulky about pasting the link rather than integrating it into the text. The fact of the matter too, is this "Akisnet" that hosts the blog, will block your post if you copy paste too many such links. So, a relief it really is that I can link them this way.

The National Defense Authorization Act, primarily an annual appropriation of the Department of Defense budget, reversed the findings of several investigations of Pearl Harbor in 2000. It found that Kimmel and Short were intentionally denied intelligence relating to intercepts of operation bulletins to Vice Admiral Nagumo. It is mentioned by that same Stinnet in Day of Deceit.

Expected the USSR to lose, eh? Well it wasn't the first time that U.S. military analysts were wrong. Of course it didn't help Germany's war efforts that Hitler blatantly talked down and even sacked his brilliant generals (Guderian, Manstein). Still over 80% of German casualties were incurred in the Eastern Front and that total doesn't include the Romanians and Hungarians, so I think the Red Army fared fine. This is something that is rarely mentioned by even Eastern Front historians (usually Western), so I don't blame you.

Even though my grandfather's war, The Great Patriotic War, is strikingly unsung I'm thinking we both know that all parties involved fought exclusively to knock out the other empires, introduce repressive ideologies or all of the above so the minutia isn't that significant.

Anyway, on the main subject and to the point, NE, I don't think the solution to The People's conundrum is a more autonomous government. I think government IS the problem. "Why" is a conversation that is taxing indeed. I'm sure my anarchist in crime Tony had already talked your ear off in the previous thread so I probably don't need to retread either :).

But I think picking up some Mikhail Bakunin sometime will.. broaden your horizons a bit. He's "Communist Manifesto's" gusto with Tom Paine's "Common Sense" simplicity. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

I'm entering my last posts here for awhile NE. But I wish you much joy in enlightening the Tiny Revolution community! You're good luck wishes for the semester were appreciated :).

Posted by: Nikolay Levin at January 24, 2010 10:02 PM

I have read a bit about the great debates between Marx and Bakunin, though I've not read much Bakunin himself. I also read some Murray Bookchin at Tony's recommendation, and I think quite highly of Bookchin. I'll give Bakunin a try since you compare him to the incomparable Tom Paine.

I'm aware that the US had some biases against the Russian army. They persisted even after the war. FDR's man at the State Department, Sumner Welles, almost openly mocks the military's contempt for the Soviet Army and certainty that the Nazis would swiftly prevail in his book Time for Decision, published in 1944. Welles shortly thereafter was brought down by a scandal in a way that is typical of Washington and that presaged the end of the New Deal, which had been being rolled back throughout the war.

Everyone, apparently including Stalin, thought the Red Army would lose. Churchill too thought the USSR would be defeated, but he thought it would weaken the Germans enouh for Britain to win. And though I'm speculating, perhaps Churchill knew a German attack on the USSR would lure FDR into the war too.

Nikolay, you need to tell me what is going to be the answer to the monopolistic phase of capitalism if you don't think government can do the job. The innate myopia and obsessive drive for profits will destroy the world if not checked. If government power, properly controlled, cannot do the job, what can?

Posted by: N E at January 26, 2010 06:46 PM