Our Haiti Response Has Been Yet Another Example of Western Hypocrisy and Racist Double Standards

The international community has many aliases. This week in Haiti it swung into slow-motion urgent action in the guise of the "humanitarian community", configured for quite different purposes from when it becomes a "coalition of the willing" or "world opinion". Perhaps its most powerful symbol was Ban Ki Moon urging those who have lost everything to exercise patience.

A conspicuous philanthropy deployed before the world's TV cameras promised solidarity and partnership, as relief flights darkened the skies over the stricken country. It was possible for legions of journalists, but not doctors and nurses, to pass effortlessly through the blocked frontiers of misery. While the tragedy had to be told to the world, surely a small reservoir of reporters would have sufficed to spread the news, without every major TV company sending its own staff. Despite the presence of Medecins sans Frontieres, why is there no international team of medical personnel available for dispatch as swiftly as emissaries of the global media?

Western countries vied with each other for humanitarian supremacy. If Britain sent firefighters and search-and-rescue teams, the government of France promised to call a transnational conference, while Barack Obama, flanked by former presidents, announced the biggest ever US emergency deployment, including 10,000 soldiers. Gordon Brown fatuously congratulated the British people for their generosity in pledging £2m within 48 hours of the catastrophe, the story of our compassion foregrounded against their misery. Robert Gates announced the impossibility of airdrops of food or supplies, because he feared any such effort might spark "riots".

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