Thursday, March 11, 2010

Setting the Record Straight: Sean Penn on the U.S. Military's Role in Haiti

“I believe this was a strictly HUMANITARIAN action on the part of the United States military, and an incredible one.”

Actor Sean Penn on the U.S. military’s role in Haiti, giving credit where credit is due while discussing Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez on the Bill Maher show. (Neither Penn nor Maher could pronounce the man’s name properly, as would be expected.)

While in Haiti, Penn gave an interview to Geraldo Rivera of Fox “News” in which he said: “People are suffering and a lot of people are doing their best –- the U.S. military and human aid groups –- to help them.” Penn continued, “the military is doing the most extraordinary job” and the “positive reporting, reporting of positive actions by the United States ... I can say has been unbelievable, unbelievable -- and meant and felt.”

I only post this because you wouldn’t know it from reading the far left blogs; it would clash with the narrative promoted by Chávez and Fidel (not all Cuban media) of the U.S. military as an “invasion” force, setting President Obama up as some sort of de facto ruler of Haiti backed by U.S. military might.

This particular fantasy has roots in the checkered history of the U.S. relationship with Latin America, but it’s simply not true, except to those who believe every anti-American declaration coming from the usual suspects.

Sean Penn has been generous with his time and consistent in the interviews he grants, whether he is speaking to Cuban or Venezuelan media or to Fox News. He has recognized the “incredible” humanitarian role played by the U.S. military. But he cannot control how his interviews are edited by Fox or Venezuelan and Cuban media. Nor can he control the selective way the far left uses his words to attack the United States. At least Bill Maher’s interview was LIVE.

If anything, as Haiti president René Préval came to Washington seeking a renewal of direct U.S. aid to Haiti, the relief efforts have been decentralized. Of the $2 billion in assistance, mostly to aid groups, the UN and development agencies, fully half of it has come from Americans. Ironically, Penn opposes the U.S. scaling back its military presence in Haiti from a peak of 20,000 on February 1 to about 8,000 in the coming days, which puts him at odds with the purveyors of the military “invasion” fantasy.

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