Tags: bill | clinton | haiti | obama | earthquake | relief

Bill Clinton Praises U.S. Effort in Haiti

By Dan Weil   |   Thursday, 21 Jan 2010 03:49 PM

Former President Bill Clinton, who was a UN envoy to Haiti even before the earthquake struck, says the United States has responded very well to the tragedy.

“I think the U.S. has done a really commendable job,” he said in a speech Tuesday. “The president has been good. He tasked the secretary of state [Hillary Clinton] and Rajiv Shaw the director of AID [the Agency for International Development] to stand up our response.”

Obama also sent Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, deputy commander of the U.S. Southern Command.

“Keen, thank goodness, has known the Brazilian general in command of the UN forces for 30 years. . . . So they’re working together,” Clinton said.

See Video: Former President Bill Clinton praises the U.S. response to Haiti’s crisis - Click Here Now

He says the number of people rioting in the streets is small, especially compared to the number of people who are “homeless, injured, have lost loved ones, have nothing but what’s on their back and haven’t had any food, water or sleep in a week.”

Haiti’s infrastructure has been wiped out. “The Americans have been great to come in and work with the Haitians, work with the UN forces” on that, Clinton said.

The American military has been particularly helpful getting the Port-au-Prince airport up and running, he says. “That’s because Hillary made a deal with President Preval to let the military in effect be the airport administrator. And we sent experts running those planes in and out of there.”

For people who want to help Haiti, “the best thing you can do, unless you can send specific medication or massive amounts of food and water, is to give cash to the people who can get it there in a hurry,” Clinton said.

Out of all the tragedy, there is a ray of hope, he says.

“For all the horrible, heartbreaking stories, those of us who have been involved in Haiti for a long time believe it’s got the best chance to escape its history in our lifetime -- to build a truly modern, functioning state.”

See Video: Former President Bill Clinton praises the U.S. response to Haiti’s crisis - Click Here Now

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