With apologies to Cole Porter — France does it, the UK does it, and even humanitarian Croats do it. The only one who won’t do it is the country that has sent the overwhelming majority of supplies and resources to Haiti after their devastating earthquake. The US refuses to fly its flag at its main relief installation in Port-au-Prince, and Army Times wonders why:
The many nations helping Haiti recover from the devastating earthquake that struck there have set up their own military compounds and fly their flags at the entrances.
France’s tricolor, Britain’s Union Jack and even Croatia’s coat of arms flap in the breeze.
But the country whose contributions dwarf the rest of the world’s — the United States — has no flag at its main installation near the Port-au-Prince airport.
The lack of the Stars and Stripes does not sit well with some veterans and servicemembers who say the U.S. government should be proud to fly the flag in Haiti, given the amount of money and manpower the U.S. is donating to help the country recover from the Jan. 12 quake.
The Obama administration says flying the flag could give Haiti the wrong idea.
“We are not here as an occupation force, but as an international partner committed to supporting the government of Haiti on the road to recovery,” the U.S. government’s Haiti Joint Information Center said in response to a query about the flag.
At first blush, it seems as though the Obama administration has been buffaloed by the French into hiding Old Glory. In the immediate aftermath of the quake and our initial response, France accused the US of conducting a de facto “occupation” of Haiti. Not surprisingly, Venezuela and Nicaragua followed suit. Ironically, the French don’t seem terribly concerned with flying their flag over Haiti despite their status as its original colonizer.
The decision not to fly the flag is an embarrassment of weakness on the part of Obama. Our nation has conducted relief efforts for decades through our military, saving millions of people from death, disease, and starvation. Like France, Britain, and Croatia, we have flown our flag during those operations not to note occupation but to represent the American people’s solidarity with those suffering from disaster. That historical record is answer itself to the lunatics in Venezuela, Nicaragua, and even France who indulge in paranoid hysteria.
Fly the flag, Mr. President. Let our actions speak for themselves, but demonstrate that we aren’t ashamed to arrive anywhere in the world with that flag flying proudly.