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Bush, Clinton: Stabilization first priority

By John Amick and T. Rees Shapiro

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows to discuss relief efforts in Haiti.

CNN: State of the Union - Bush, Clinton: Stabilization first priority

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton expressed hope Sunday that relief efforts will bring some stability and set Haiti on course to become a more modern state. Bush and Clinton are on the Sunday talk show circuit following the establishment of a fund to help Haiti recover from Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

"Success is helping save lives in the short term, and then we can worry about the long-term after the situation has been stabilized," Bush said, adding the suggestion that Haiti will never recover is a "defeatist" attitude that he rejects.

Clinton acknowledged the monumental challenges facing Haiti's recovery, but he said in no time in the recent past has Haiti been in the position to change its historical patterns of corruption and poverty as it is now. The goal of relief efforts, he said, should include a continuation down the path of rapid improvement.

Their efforts will attempt to not only give hope now for Haitians, Bush said, but to give ongoing support and compassion once the crisis leaves the 24-hour news cycle. He said their charity will be a reliable outlet for contributions.

"During these crises, all kinds of fake charities spring up that take advantage of people's good will," Bush said. "We're safe haven. We will make sure the money is accounted for and there's transparency and properly spent."

Both shunned any attempts to politicize the crisis. "I hope that it will humanize us all in every aspect of our lives," Clinton said.

Clinton also praised Obama's response to the crisis, but he said he is careful about offering "gratuitous advice" to the president unless asked.

ABC: THIS WEEK - Presidents urge patience during adversity

Supplying relief aid to Haitians amid the country's wrecked infrastructure will take some time and patience in the initial days following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake there, especially as immediate efforts focused more on rescue than relief distribution, former President Bill Clinton said Sunday.

Clinton appeared on "This Week" with former President George W. Bush to discuss the relief fund they are starting as a "safe haven" for contributions to Haiti.

"One of my concerns is that these crises cause people to say, 'I want to help,' and then they start pouring money sometimes into organizations that aren't real or perhaps dishonest," Bush said. "We'll make sure there's transparency and the accounting is good and, more importantly, the programs that the money goes to help Haiti rebuild."

While short-term goals revolve around basic food and water access, Clinton said the wider picture for a successful Haiti recovery must begin now.

"It's one thing to save lives, and it's going to be another thing to make sure that the long-term development project has got a reasonable plan," Clinton said.

Bush said the outpouring of immediate support from Americans should continue, from a humanitarian perspective and from a strategic angle, "because it makes sense to have a stable democracy in our neighborhood."

In addition to offering food, water and medical care, the next steps include providing reliable shelter and, maybe more important for combating frustration, reviving communication systems, Clinton said.

"I find people are angrier and more destructive not because they're in trouble, but because they don't know what's going on," said Clinton. "They don't understand. The more people understand about what's happening to them, the more they can endure the long-term process of rebuilding."

Lt. Gen. Ken Keen addressed the security concerns, saying more troops are on the way to offer help to the Haitian government.

"We are going to have to address how many troops that we need to do all of the missions we have at hand, our principal mission being humanitarian assistance, but security component is going to be an increasing part of that," Keen said.

USAID's Rajiv Shah said the amount of manpower and access to those in need will improve, but for now, all organizations are working around the clock to coordinate the most effective relief effort possible.

"The challenge is, we're talking about 3.5 million people in need," Shah said. "We're talking about a significant degradation of what was already relatively weak infrastructure, no port access. Roads are -- are difficult to get around.... This is a complex logistical challenge with countries around the world providing support, and the president's been very clear. Get in there, lean in, be swift, be organized, and make this work. And that's exactly what we intend to do."

FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Presidents aim to provide secure donations

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said their job is to ensure disaster funding reaches the people in Haiti as quickly as possible.

Donations for helping the Haitian relief effort can be made through their website at www.clintonbushhaitifund.org. President Bush said watching the tragedy on televsion has made him feel "sick to my stomach." President Clinton said the despair is "extremely painful" and the priority for Haitians is clear: "Right now we've got to survive."

As U.N. envoy to Haiti, Clinton said once the rubble has been cleared, he would help the government there implement an economic development strategy including a plan to slow deforestation and create jobs. Clinton said Haitians could increase the production of organic briquettes, which are made from salvaged and recycled tree and paper products and burn longer and cost less than traditional charcoal.

For people who give money through their website or others, Bush said the key is transparency in order to prevent corrupted use of the donations: "Our job is to make sure their help is not squandered."

CBS: FACE THE NATION - Presidents: In Haiti for long haul

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said their places in the Haiti relief effort lie in offering a reliable outlet for donations to get to the Haitian people for projects that the wrecked country needs, as well as providing support for long-term solutions to Haiti's historical problems that are only magnified by the earthquake's damage.

"He (President Obama) wants us to stay at it over a longer period as I did with the first President Bush in the tsunami (in Thailand, 2004), because this is going to be a long-term process," Clinton said.

The long-term health of Haiti will depend on cooperation not only from the United States, but a continued pledge from the world community, Bush said.

"The immediate crisis is not going to be solved by the fund that we're setting up," Bush said. "The immediate crisis is going to be solved by the United States government, along with other governments, effectively dealing with the food shortage, the information shortage, the water shortage, you know, the security situation. We want to be around to help on the rebuilding aspects of this."

NBC: MEET THE PRESS - Bush: U.S. won't give up on Haiti

Former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said the most important components of the Haitian relief effort are food,water, medical supplies and care.

"It's not just enough to rebuild," Clinton said, adding that while security is important during times of crisis, the Haiti effort is still a rescue mission.

President Bush said plans for the post-disaster effort will give the Haitian government the opportunity to restructure the country for the better by forming a sustainable economy with an eye toward job creation and a greener environment.

Bush said the overall efforts there are beneficial to worldwide interests and that the United States should "never give up on Haiti."

C-SPAN: NEWSMAKERS - Skelton wary of overturning 'Don't ask, don't tell'

Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo) said the military's "Don't ask don't tell" policy will be reviewed in House Armed Services subcommitee hearings, but he is personally opposed to changing the law.

"We're in the midst of two major conflicts," Skelton said, "I think that the disruption of this type could very well cause some serious problems."

Skelton called the shootings at Ft. Hood an act of terrorism, and said the military needs to be more accountable for the performance of its personnel.

Regarding recent suicide data, he said troop stress levels have been cause for concern as repeated deployments strain the abilities of an already stretched military. Skelton suggested that adding more troops to the military's overall strength could alleviate problems but that there are concerns about a growing deficit, and an expected 700 billion dollar defense budget in the coming year.

While more troops may be a viable option in less economically desperate times, Skelton said the key for the future was a balance between capability and sustainability.

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  January 17, 2010; 10:37 AM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Sunday Talkies  
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Next: Bill Clinton going Monday to Haiti to deliver relief supplies

Comments

Actually, the web site is http://clintonbushhaitifund.org/

Posted by: ndgirl | January 17, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey WaPO....you didn't give the website.

ClintonBush.org (I believe it is an ORG)
It may be a GOV.

Both our former Presidents are correct. Donate to this organization and it will be tracked --that is, if the consumer wants to know, emphatically, that their donation is going to Haiti.

Posted by: TheBabeNemo | January 17, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

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