What Haiti Teaches

Starving children don't respond to military firepower

In June Powers will return with some surgeons and a team of volunteer medical students from UM for a healthcare blitz in the region they call a "health fair." The surgeons will go to the provincial capital of Hinche.

The continuing crisis in Haiti offers lessons for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. cannot simply charge into a country with guns blazing, then leave a few months later and expect life there to proceed normally. A long-term commitment is required. That's a conclusion many have reached, a conclusion recently supported with extensive research published by the San Antonio Express-News.

Powers doesn't need a newspaper to tell her that. "Haiti has been suffering forever," she says. "The last time we as a country went there, it was short-term. Haiti needs more than three or four months of intervention. And they deserve it -- they're one of our closest neighbors."

Not surprisingly, she says what the place needs most is money. Haiti is full of nonprofit organizations, and there are thousands of competent Haitians who can keep programs running. But now U.S. aid is going to Iraq, which threatens to become a black hole for spending. Meanwhile Haiti is pushed to the back of our minds.

At least until they begin killing people in the streets -- again.

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