If this doesn’t get you steamed, I don’t know what’s wrong with you:
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Food handouts were shut off Tuesday to thousands of people at a tent city here when the main U.S. aid agency said the Army should not be distributing the packages.
It was not known whether the action reflected a high-level policy decision at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) or confusion in a city where dozens of entities are involved in aid efforts.
I found this via the Instapundit, where a reader adds this tidbit:
The “aid” agencies did the same thing in Afghanistan. Being a logistics specialist, I volunteered to help an American NGO with rebuilding schools, and was on the ground in Kabul in January of ‘02. (I later ended up in charge of UNICEF’s warehouse/distribution operation for all of the new school supplies…leaving me with a complete and total disdain for all things UN-related.)
For the NGO community, to be seen co-operating with the US military was the kiss of death. NGO co-ordination meetings specifically warned against co-operation with the US military, as opposed to UN agencies. The supposed reason was that they wanted a clear line between the “killers” and those that were “there to help”. They would actually COMPLAIN that the military was out doing things like rehabilitating wells and such, whining that these were things that should be left to the aid agencies. The irony of the fact that we were all sitting in a meeting, DISCUSSING it, while the US military had already been out DOING it, was completely lost on them.
Sounds like it’s same-old, same-old. Nothing but tools, the lot of them.
I am ready to punch someone in the face over this. The Obama administration made the decision that USAID would be the lead agency in Operation United Response. Fair enough. But the point of the operation is NOT to make the US government look good. It is to provide succor to the people of Haiti. Who in USAID or in the administration made the call that the Army shouldn’t hand out rations? It isn’t like the Haitians don’t have the memory of the US Army and other services being there. The whole country was occupied in 1994, and the Marines ran the whole country for a decade or so earlier in the century. And the whole point of having the military there is that they are THE logistics experts at getting things into the area and distributing them in an austere environment with little or no functioning infrastructure.
I’m not saying USAID and NGOs don’t have a valuable role to play. But right now, it sure looks like the only role they want to play is that of spoiler, and that is going to cost lives and certainly goodwill.