Haiti and the “Vectors of Evil”

Heroic Evil
In the International Herald Tribune of January 22, 2010 there is an article by Nicholas D. Kristof. Here is the first paragraph:
"On my blog (Kristof’s), a woman named Mona pointed to Haitian corruption and declared: ‘I won’t send money because I know what will happen to it’. Another reader attributed Haiti’s poverty to the ‘low I.Q. of the 9 million people there’, and added: ‘It is all very sad and cannot be fixed."
Kristof’s comment on the above was: "Not everyone is so frank…" I am not sure as to what Kristof really means by "frank". Does he mean that the above individuals are honest enough to express their view without reservations? Or, does he mean that they are "stupid"? Anyway, he tries to dissociate himself from them by saying that Haitians are "smart, industrious and hospitable".
It seems that the above individuals belong to the omnipresent assholes found in any society. They breath not only in the US. A couple of days after I read Kristof’s article, I was "obliged" to sit at a supper-table of a friend of my companion. Opposite me there sat two well-off Greek ladies. They used almost the same words as their US counterparts and they were adamant in that blacks have a "low IQ". Of course, they made the usual tacit assumption that they, being white, are very intelligent.
[Parenthesis: In 2002 George W. Bush, President of the USA, following the example of another Great Man, Adolf Hitler, introduced a new mathematical term: The "Axis of Evil". Respecting the wisdom of these men, we should always try to follow their example. As an engineer I shall try to do just that.
Suppose we wish to show on paper the magnitude of a force and the direction in which it acts. We agree to symbolize this by a line segment, an arrow, the length of which depicts the magnitude of the force and its direction shows the direction-of-action of the force. We call this arrow a "vector". So, a vector is simply a "carrier" (as its original Latin meaning) of something in a certain direction. Let us now introduce a new mathematical term: the "vector of evil". That is a person that "carries" a certain magnitude of evil directed against somebody. For example, Bush (father), Bush (son), and Bill Clinton can rightfully claim to be "vectors of evil" as all three murdered men, women, and children (infants in the case of Clinton) and their acts were directed towards the Iraqis. Dubya's length of the "vector" seems to be longer as he exceeded one million murdered.
Therefore, the above Americans (mentioned by Kristof) and the Greek ladies are not "frank", or "stupid",or simply "assholes". They are "vectors of evil" who discuss the IQ of the blacks over the corpses of two hundred thousand Haitians. End of the parenthesis,]  
Kristof adds that "Pat Robertson, the religious broadcaster, went furthest by suggesting that Haiti’s earthquake flowed by a pact with the devil two centuries ago…" Again, Kristof tries to dissociate himself from the claim of Robertson by arguing that the "implication of belated seismic revenge on Haitian children seems defamatory of God".
If Kristof by "furthest" means that Robertson went furthest in "frankness", then any comment on Kristof is redundant. Of course, neither Robertson nor Kristof (or any other human, for that matter) believes that something called God "sends" quakes to kill people. All humans have the potential for rational thought.
Yet, it is not a privilege of Pat Robertson’s to know why God "sends" quakes. Here, again, is the Greek version of "God-sent" quakes:
"In 1995 there were two metropolitan bishops fighting for the throne of the [Christian] Church at the town of Larisa, in central Greece. The word "fighting" should be taken literally, as the police for years had been separating their supporters in violent battles in the streets of Larisa… In May 1995, during the celebration of the patron saint of the town of Larisa…the pretender, together with his supporters occupied the local cathedral and celebrated mass…the official bishop, did not dare intervene, because there was no police protection available. The reason was that the police was busy helping the government in its work after an earthquake that hit the area before the celebration of the patron saint.
The conclusion of the pretender and his supporters was that God through the earthquake kept the police busy, so that the…official bishop, would not dare celebrate mass without police protection. [The pretender], taking for granted that he was God’s favorite, in a press conference after the mass, expressed this conclusion very politely thus: ‘I would plead that all of us dwell on the earthquake in order to obtain our lessons. When God speaks so strongly we should keep silent’ " [Nikos Raptis, "Religion and 'Believers' ", Democracy& Nature, No. 11/12, 1998, p. 123]
[Note: US readers should not dismiss the Greek Christians as some quaint branch of Christianity. After all, Saint Paul founded Christianity mostly in Greek cities like Athens, Corinth, Thessaloniki, etc, as presented in the Bible in the Epistles to Corinthians, Thessalonians, etc. So, it is reasonable that the Greeks, especially Greek bishops, know why God sends quakes to kill people. By the way, the Greek Orthodox Christians consider the US Christians as a quaint mishmash of inferior Christians. End of note.]
Kristof further down his article correctly adds that: "Haiti isn’t impoverished because the devil got his due; it is impoverished…[because] when foreigners were not looting Haiti, its own rulers were." Unfortunately, Kristof does not name the "foreigners", besides the French.
Let us listen to one of the "foreigners" that took part in the looting:
"The [Haitian] rebels were determined to put their man, Doctor Rosalvo Bobo, in the presidential palace. Bobo was a red-headed Negro, and the American government didn’t think he would do. The other candidate, Senator Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave, had our backing.
When the National Assembly met, the [US] Marines stood in the ails with their bayonets until the man selected by the American Minister [Ambassador] was elected president".
The narrator, believing that his words are humorous, adds: "His Excellency Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave was put in office in September. I won’t say we put him in. The State Department might object. Anyway, he was put in."
The narrator goes on: "I rushed downstairs and called out to the men, ‘Who wants a fight?’ The [US] Marines were in their underclothes, trying to capture a stray evening breeze. Without stopping to dress they snatched up their rifles and belts… It was the funniest fight I ever saw. Those damn Marines were baying like bloodhounds all through the bushes. ‘Here comes one’- bang, bang, I’d hear as they hunted down the Cacos [the native Haitians]… While I was still in Gonaives, Colonel Waller radioed me to return at once to Cape Haitian, where the revolt was becoming serious. The Cacos had ambushed and shot eight or ten of our men.
That started things. A lot of north Haiti was burned before we got through."
One should notice that a section of a country was burned by an aggressor army, because the native population resisted the aggressors and shot ten US Marines. A few decades later the Nazis would burn only the village in the vicinity where the resisting natives shot a German soldier and not part of the country. Incidentally, why does Merkel of Germany, the daughter of a Christian minister, refuse to pay reparations for the villages burned by her Nazi compatriots in Greece and thus help a fellow Christian nation face the present economic crisis?
Anyway, let us go back to the narration: "On our third morning…we met a hideous, ungainly brute. He must have been the ugliest native in Haiti… he looked like an ape. We grabbed him and through our interpreter asked where the Cacos were hiding. He chose to know nothing. ‘I’ll give you five dollars in Haitian money if you lead us to the Cacos,’ I offered. ‘And if you don’t, I’ll shoot you’. ‘All right, I’ll take you’, he gibbered to the interpreter." The narrator of course is a white American.
Finally, the narrator concludes: "Just before daylight I crawled around to each squad. ‘Just go for those devils as soon as it’s daylight. move straight forward and shoot everyone you see’… We killed about seventy-five Cacos the rest took to the bushes. But the Marines went wild after their devilish night and hunted the Cacos down like pigs… all twenty-seven of us were very much alive and had fortunately come off with only one man wounded."
No need to go on with the narration.
All these heroic acts took place in Haiti in 1915.
The narrator, one of the most glorious heroes in US history, is Smedley D. Butler (1881-1940), who was "physically the ideal type for the United States Marine Corps [as he had] all that dash, pepper, virility and swagger associated with Uncle Sam’s soldiers of the sea." And who "Incidentally [was] one of the few men in American history twice to be awarded the Medal of Honor, by special act of Congress." Butler’s nickname in the Marines was: "Old Gimlet Eye"!
All the above quotations concerning the narration and the narrator were taken from the book: "Old Gimlet Eye" by Lowell Thomas which was published by Farrar & Rinehart in 1933. Lowell Thomas (1892-1981), according to the Britannica, was an "adventurer, author, and radio broadcaster… his lecture series based on interviews…with T.E.Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)…made Lawrence a legendary figure in the West".
However, the Butler story does not end Here.
In 1935, three years after the publication of the Lowell Thomas book (and 20 years after the events in Haiti) Butler wrote a (small, 5"x7") book of 52 pages: "War is a Racket", published by "Round Table Press, Inc." of New York.
Here are some interesting passages:
- For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life I fully realized it. [p.3]
- A racket is best described…as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes. [p.1]
- The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten and sometimes even twelve per cent. But war-time profits-ah! that is another matter – twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent – the sky is the limit… Take our friends the du Ponts the powder people – didn’t one of them testify before a Senate committee recently that their powder won the war? Or saved the world for democracy? Or something? How did they do in the war?… [They had] an increase in profits of more than 950 per cent. [p.11,12,13] [Note: Let us not forget that this was written in 1935].
- Boys with a normal viewpoint were taken out of the fields and offices and factories and classrooms and put into the ranks. There they were remolded; they were made over; they were made to "about face"; to regard murder as the order of the day… We used them… and trained them to think nothing at all of killing or of being killed. [p.28]
[Note: This passage, which seems to be autobiographical, as Butler joined the Marines at 16 and was turned into a killer who did in the Philippines, in China, in Honduras, in Mexico, etc, etc what he did in Haiti, should be read by all the US soldiers in Iraq and in Afghanistan and by their kin.]
Although, the above passages suffice to give an idea of the views of Butler, a former soldier-murderer who seems to have understood some things, we think that the following excerpts are quite interesting "pareconish-wise":
- Another step necessary in this fight to smash the war racket is a limited plebiscite to determine whether war should be declared… Only those who would…risk their lives…should have the privilege of voting… There is ample precedent for restricting the voting to those affected… They should be the ones to have the power to decide – and not a Congress… [p.40,41,42]. [Note: Again, do not forget that this was written in 1935.]
Here end our comments on Kristof’s lament about the "looting" by "foreigners" in Haiti.  

This is an artist’s rendition of US Marines in Haiti in 1915
(Inside cover of the Lowell Thomas book)

Future Quakes
Once more an article on earthquakes. For me, this has been going on for more than 40 years. After all, there are about 30,000 quakes of magnitude 4 Richter all over the earth, annually. So, inevitably [and unfortunately ] there is repetition of information, arguments, and even of pleading (after 6 ZNet Commentaries on quakes since 1999). This time the people that suffer, the Haitians, are one of the most mistreated peoples in recent history, thanks to the French and to the US elites.
It took George W. Bush about nine months to kill a few thousand Iraqis and a few hundred Americans [up to the end of 2003]. It took only about 18 seconds for a quake to kill tens of thousands of Iranians. [ZNet Commentary, Feb. 5, '04]. Now, it took only about 20 seconds to kill about 200,000 Haitians. It is certain that the number of dead in future quakes will compete with the number of dead strewn by the wars inflicted by the Bushes of the world.
"Earthquake risk could be removed, almost completely, by proper building construction and regulation". These are words of Charles Richter himself, in 1970. [ZNet Comm., April 09, '09].
For one hundred years the newspapers have repeatedly carried photos (ad nauseam) of collapsed concrete buildings after an earthquake, but no state ever questioned the role of the concrete, as a material, in the carnage. [ZNet Comm. Feb. 4,'01].
Concrete is an intrinsically BRITTLE material, even if reinforced with steel, especially brittle are vertical elements; columns, etc. This is the most important aspect of the problem.
The picture, below, shows, in a stunning way, the root of the quake problem, worldwide. On the left of the picture there is a piece of concrete with some steel bars. This seems to be the top of a failed concrete column, probably of a one story building, as there are only 4 steel bars at the four corners of the rectangular column.

 A Haitian girl and the top of a failed steel reinforced column, on the left of the picture.
[Photo from the German magazine "Der Spiegel", 4/2010, Horge Silva, Reuters]

Most engineers will tell you that the column failed because there were no "ties". [Ties are loops of wire around the longitudinal steel bars, like the ones in the picture]. Besides, they will tell you, this is a Haitian concrete structure. That is, a "third" world structure in a poor nation.
Of course, one could argue that, on the other hand, there are the very "spectacular" failures of excellent reinforced concrete structures of the Nimitz Freeway in Oakland, California, in 1989 and the elevated Hanshin Expressway in Kobe, Japan, in 1995. Built by the most technically advanced nations of the world, as public works with strict control and supervision.
Any discussion of this kind is not even academic, it is "criminally" disorienting. Most civil engineers are taught very little about quakes in their schools and what they are taught is irrelevant. Also, most of them have never seen a place devastated by a quake. A significant number of them are indifferent to the problem, especially those that work for the state.
Can a quake, a natural phenomenon, be a political problem? It definitely can! It is politicians who decide in what kind of buildings people live in. The present Greek minister of Public Works is…a dentist!
The Haiti quake poses an urgent challenge to all the peoples of the world. A challenge, which is as urgent as the challenge to stop the future wars of the future Bushes and Obamas. It is time to examine the problem of concrete as a building material. This should start inside the technical universities, especially the US universities, and the various engineering associations of the world, especially the American Society of Civil Engineers. The next step should be a dialogue with the ordinary people even at the level of neighborhood. That is, a "pareconish-type" of dialogue. Of course, any decision will take decades to be implemented.
Not a single minute should be lost. Quakes can hit Lisbon, London, Rome, St.Louis, Athens, Istanbul, the Alps, Tokyo, and Washington D.C., any time. This is a desperate call to the engineers of the world to face the problem honestly and morally.
P.S. Why the Haitian girl in the photo has to wait for help which comes from above? The giver of help could not help by standing at the same level as the girl?

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