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Seamans: Quagmire In Haiti?

01/20/10 7:55AM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans wonders if the tragedy in Haiti could lead to another foreign policy quagmire for the United States.

(SEAMANS) The news media are overwhelmed by the story of unspeakable tragedy that has befallen Haiti.  As hard as they try with their words and pictures the reporters on the ground cannot convey the full impact and the choking stench of horror that is beyond comprehension.  The story now is completely wrapped in the deepest emotions of sympathy which will last until some humanitarian stability is achieved by the aid workers who are striving to reduce the seemingly impossible odds against helping the stricken.

But an experienced observer can realistically surmise from afar that their efforts cannot succeed until law and order is restored so that aid can reach the victims and the dead can be found and buried as soon as possible in the ninety-degree heat.  The local police forces have been shattered and most of their surviving members are contending with their own tragedies at home.  The policing effort is being organized under the mantle of the UN and we can expect that most of the manpower and financial burden will be carried by the U.S.

Thus our troops will become involved in a dangerous campaign to subdue the looters, thieves, gangs and even criminals who fled the destroyed prison.  
The news media overwhelmed by the humanitarian story have not yet been able to fully focus on the security angle but they will if our GI's and Marines come under attack.

As the story stabilizes, it's inevitable that the predictable speculation will begin - that the chaos in Haiti presents the terrorist world with an opportunity to establish a new foothold close to the U.S. - that it could be a perfect setup for the Taliban and Al Qaeda to infiltrate fighters to harass our troops, attack the convoys hauling vital humanitarian supplies, and persuade extremist Haitians to join the terrorism cause.

We can almost hear the politicians who oppose the Obama administration demanding that a surge of more troops be sent to Haiti.  Others will accuse them of politicizing the tragedy.  That familiar question, "How many troops, for how long, and how much will it cost" will provide more tv face time for critics of the administration.  We the people will hear them claim that another quagmire is emerging that will suck in more American  troops and treasure - and no one in Washington will dare say for how long.

This faraway observer can foresee that a major political issue will develop over what more we should do about Haiti. And then the debate will become whether thousands of Haitian refugees should be taken in by the United States.  The Red Cross says it's already planning to bring 45 thousand evacuees to Florida.

Will our domestic politics eventually overwhelm our sympathy?


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