There's even a base near the Port-au-Prince Airport, set up much like the bases being used by other nations' military and civilian relief efforts. But there's no U.S. flag flown at the base. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive was disturbed when he saw the flag flying at the base, saying it made things look like the United States was taking over the Port-au-Prince airport. He mentioned that to U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Merten, who agreed to have the flag taken down.
Now, I understand that our nation has not always flown its flag in Haiti over noble acts. The 1915 occupation of that country by U.S. Marines was intended to help settle things after a series of coups and coup attempts, but it also had quite a bit to do with protecting U.S. companies who couldn't do business so well in that kind of upheaval. And I'm not the kind of person who idolizes the flag so much I forget the nation, people and principles it represents are a lot more important. So if not flying the flag smooths the way towards helping Haiti, I'll live with it.
But c'mon, Jean-Max. Who are you kidding? Do you figure that if you close one eye, turn sideways and maybe squint with the other that you can pretend all those folks in green are Belgians? That those small rectangular red, white and blue emblem patches they wear on their shoulders are just little decorative color splashes? That the exact same emblem, fixed to their helicopters and jeeps and airplanes and boats, is an expression of personal taste?
I'm thinking the premier's people might be better served if he spent a little more time figuring out ways to root out corruption and fraud that's been wrecking his country long before this earthquake and a little less time worrying about the symbolic impact of a piece of nylon that doesn't even weigh a whole pound.