Before the quake, Haiti's airport handled about three flights a day, some estimates are that its total capacity was around 30.
Now? 180 flights worth of food, supplies, peacekeepers and aid workers are landing per day.
How had this turnaround occurred? The Air Force has a whole bunch of engineers who are trained to rebuild airports for combat purposes, the theory being that they can rebuild the airport of a decimated city America has invaded so planes can be landed and the conquered city can more quickly become a military foothold.
Port-Au-Prince was a decimated city. So the Air Force sent its engineers there to rebuild the airport. Over 1000 planes landed in the first week.
On the radio in DC this weekend, there was a big fuss over the fact that the US Navy Hospital Ship Comfort had been getting maintenance and didn't get underway until Sunday. How dare they take so long? The military must be a bunch of jerks! One of my naval engineer readers (and I do have two at least sporadic ones) can answer this better than I can, but my guess is that getting a Navy hospital ship out of maintenance, fully staffed and on its way to Haiti in a few days is pretty good.
The ship is there now, and treating patients.
Another UU blogger asked recently if serving in the US Armed forces is honorable. I think that's a stupid question. To me it's obvious that pretty much any profession can be honorable or dishonorable depending on the way it is performed. Many would say that prostitution is not an honorable profession, for example, but as Heinlen put it, "It is possible that the precentage of honest and competent whores is higher than that of plumbers and much higher than that of lawyers. And enormously higher than that of professors.*"
Anyway, being a member of the Armed forces who is keeping the peace and distributing aid in Haiti? Honorable.
Sitting at home and sniping at the military as if they never do anything good? I'd say less so, even if you did write a check to a charity that bought supplies and put them on a plane that couldn't have landed without the US military's help.
There will always be UUs who want UUism to be a peace church and want the US to be a peaceful nation unprepared for war. But I have to say that when another country has a disaster and the Americans can fly in and make a bad time better, it makes me proud.
I don't fundamentally have an objection to cutting the defense budget, but we should be careful as we do so. Not every trade off is going to be one we want to make.
who gets that, theoretically, the US could be a really peaceful nation that just keeps a giant disaster relief program around for an occiasion such as this one, but I don't think that's really going to happen. But my experience with pacifists has been that most of them might as well preface their idealistic visions with "If human nature were completely different then..." so I don't really expect much in the way of rational argument from them. Thus, it was probably pointless to bring that up.