PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Yes, the earth-shattering quake was powerful enough to bring many countries to their knees.
But Haiti's horrendous death toll and cataclysmic damage must also be blamed on a history of bad policies pursued by its own weak leadership and the foreign powers — governments and aid institutions — that have long held sway here.
This latest in a history of Haitian calamities may offer an unmatched opportunity to turn the tide in a country where decades of food aid still have left desperate mothers feeding their children chalk to stop hungry stomachs from rumbling.
Analysts offer revolutionary solutions.
Haitian political commentator Michel Soukar suggests creating farming communities styled on the Israeli kibbutz, taking advantage of the flight of hundreds of thousands from the capital.
Prof. Simon Fass of the University of Texas says a mass migration abroad, like Ireland's great famine exodus of the 19th century, would allow millions to escape a degraded environment incapable of supporting the ever-growing population.
All agree that key to lifting Haiti from the virtual dark ages is a strengthening of democratic institutions, enabling Haitians to help themselves.
U.S. President Barack Obama has promised to transform Haiti. That pledge, according to Mark Schneider, special adviser on Latin America for the International Crisis Group, would involve the United States in "its largest-ever financial commitment to a single post-disaster nation — ultimately measured in the billions — and extend over the next decade."
Obama's top adviser on the calamity, former President Bill Clinton, said: "Everybody that has seriously followed Haiti for a long time believes Haiti has the best chance in our lifetime to break the chains of its past, to build a true and modern state."
While Haitians seem to welcome the post-quake influx of U.S. military, some worry what it portends.
"It's true we need a Marshall Plan for Haiti," Soukar said. "But to do what?"