Good wishes were never going to be enough.
The token gesture, even the heart-felt, sacrificial donation… they were always going to be too little, too late, not for that disaster area an ocean away. Thanks to television, the world suffered with Haiti. But Haiti needed far more than tears. Enter America. Never was military might put to better use. Never did an American imperial presidency respond with greater heart and promptitude to the needs of needy humanity than in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake. As in the aftermath of the Asian Tsunami, it is not just the aircraft carriers, ambulance ships, thousands of soldiers or even the pledge of a hundred million dollars that makes the difference. It is also in the raw empathy and generosity of spirit from citizens on the streets (notwithstanding the ever-present lunatic fringe).
None of this is to undermine the truly international scope of the response to Haiti’s tragedy. Nor can it erase the grief of devastated Haitians. Besides, in the aftermath, we must work to keep the accelerator down, to keep the pledges from across the world flowing from press conference rooms to Haiti’s port, long after the cameras have left. There will also be time to reflect on the historical injustices suffered by that island state, and to do something about it.
But this is a moment, simply to say ‘thank you America’.