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Lessons From Haiti And Afghanistan

Two human tragedies are unfolding simultaneously on opposite sides of the globe.

In Asia, the Taliban have completed their blitzkrieg of Afghanistan with the Afghan president fleeing this morning as the country falls. Bloody reprisals and triumphant displays from the Taliban incoming.
In the Caribbean just southeast of the Florida coast, yet another earthquake has hit the island nation of Haiti, just eleven years after the devastating 2010 earthquake that left over 300,000 dead. This one seems less likely to see those levels of casualties but still the death toll will likely be in the 1000s even far from the capital of Haiti. The aftermath will be just as deadly without medical care, food and clean water. This follows the assassination of the President of Haiti a month ago and comes right before the island gets punched in the mouth by tropical storm Grace.
There are a couple of similarities I see between these seemingly disparate events. First and foremost, neither are our problem. There is no vital U.S. interests in either case. 
Second, and more pertinent to my post, both countries are examples of something that most Americans don’t want to hear:
You cannot help people who don’t want to be helped or who are incapable of being helped.
It is hard for Americans to imagine that anyone in the world doesn’t envy the American experience. Of course everyone else wants drag queen story hour and endless supplies of enormous amounts of cheap calories. Turns out, lots of people don’t want that and increasingly that group of people includes lots of Americans.
Likewise it is painful for Americans to admit that many people around the world simply are incapable of maintaining the sort of civil society that we take for granted. Our system has been the envy of the world for centuries so clearly if we just recreate that system in other nations they will prosper in that culture just as we have. Yet they don’t. 
The occupation of Afghanistan was always doomed to fail because our leaders seemed to think that the solution to the Afghanistan problem was to enforce Western cultural norms, trying to create a democracy and overturning centuries of cultural norms. I get the impression that a significant percentage of the Afghan population, maybe a sizeable majority, liked things the way they were under the Taliban the first time around. They don’t want to be Americans with turbans, they want to live in their tribal system under Islamic law. 
The basic gist is true for Haiti. That place has been a mess since they slaughtered the Whites and became independent. Over the last century we kept going to Haiti to restore order and it falls right back apart as soon as we turn our attention away for a minute. There is no amount of money or infrastructure or mission work that will turn Haiti around for one basic reason.

There is no path forward for that sad island that doesn’t end the same way.
As an aside on Haiti. As someone who has been to Haiti and has blogged extensively in the past on the need to provide aid to that country.
Sending money to Haiti is the same as lighting dollar bills on fire. The funds will just go to some corrupt strongman while people starve. 
A realistic world view that informs a foreign policy would recognize that there are more places around the world that cannot be helped than places that can be. Money invested in former Warsaw Pact nations in Eastern Europe can have a dramatic impact on those nations but the same money invested in sub-Saharan Africa is wasted. Nation building in the third world has been an unmitigated disaster everywhere we have tried it while the investment to rebuild Japan and Germany after World War II saw the rebirth of two economic powerhouses. Different people groups yield different results.
Of course no one will learn this lesson, not from Haiti or Afghanistan or Syria or Somalia. They will keep sending Americans troops to die not because they think it will make things better but because it will enrich their masters. Still, it is something that dissidents need to understand because it gets to the heart of biological realism.
Biology is destiny.


  1. Anonymous

    Growing up beside a reserve, its the same thing. The kids i went to school with saw no value in post secondary. Most figured on just taking the treaty money and welfare and the free home and never wirking. One girl in junior high was looking to get pregnant so she could get the extra $234:a month in welfare a kid got you. Plus young mons got access to treaty money before thry wete 18nand head of the line for housing.

    Over half the kids i knew died within 6 months of turning 18. Because parents used to steal/waste the kids treaty money the band would hold it in trust till your 18 birthday. 30ish years ago they got almost 90k on their birthday. Drugs alcohol and fast car wete purchased in the first week. By my 19th birthday 6 classmates had either died drunk driving or OD'ed.

    One kid's goal was to be elected to band council so he could 'earn' ie steal enough money to move to south america.

    One guy i knew got out, on his 18th birthday he took the money bought a beater and drove the 300km to the city were unknown to his family he had been accepted to automechanuc school.he even told the lical RCMP he was going and that if reported missing he wasn't really. Last i heard he had a shop in a small town far away from any reservation. His family was pissed they thought he was gone to the store to buy the liquir.


  2. Anonymous

    Callouts at the nursing homes yesterday reached epic proportions, according to the wife, whose staff of aides is at least one third Haitian. Hysterical, machete-wielding Voodoo Nuthins, dark as night, shrieking at the tops of their lungs about their 300+ first cousins potentially buried in the rubble, unable to be reached by sailfoam. For all the drama you'd think that there were human lives involved or something.

    I predict more deaths from fighting over the inevitable generous outpouring of first world aid than from any toppled cardboard shacks.


  3. Jim Wetzel

    "You cannot help people who don't want to be helped or who are incapable of being helped."

    Very true. To which I would add, "You also cannot help ANY people if you're broke." And we're not only broke, we're miles underwater.

  4. Arthur Sido

    I used to manage a couple of banks near an Indian res in Michigan and watched these kids turn 18, get a tens of thousands of dollars lump sum and then watched their accounts as they blew through it in a matter of weeks. Letting them have autonomy was the worst thing we could have done for them.

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