Every disaster plan is built to some degree around the idea of triage -- deciding who can and cannot be saved. The worst cases are often separated and allowed to perish so that others who are considered more survivable can be treated.
There is a tragic triage underway in Haiti thanks to screw-ups in the US and western response, and in part because of the objectively tough conditions in Haiti that blocked access and made the delivery of food, water and services difficult. But the planners should have known that!
Flickr.com image by United Nations Development Programme
Look at the TV coverage. "Saving Haiti" is the title CNN has given to its coverage. It shows us all the planes landing, and donations coming in and celebrity response on one hand, and then the problems/failures to actually deliver aid on the other.
Much of the coverage focuses on the upbeat -- people being saved. But despite that frame, which highlights a compassionate America's response, the reality of what's happening in Haiti is only barely getting through. It's not pretty.
Everyone wants to believe in the best intentions of all involved but five days after the quake, with so few being helped, we have to ask: how did this get so badly done?
It's like Obama's plan to stop foreclosures through modifying loans. Great idea, but only a handful of homeowners have benefited. There is a yawning gap between the idea and its execution.