President Obama wants to be Haiti’s real partner – at gunpoint, if necessary.

Helping your neighbor has a long tradition in the United States. Friendly words, gestures and deeds belong to the everyday fabric of life in the American suburbs. As a superpower, the U.S. has always been judged by the amount of friendliness it has shown toward its neighbors. That is especially true of the treatment shown toward its Caribbean “backyard.” Although Washington has historically claimed the Caribbean as being within its sphere of influence, America has repeatedly acted in big brother-fashion toward it and often supported the wrong factions there; it has supported despots who suppressed and exploited the people. The “Banana Republics” owed their survival to the moral and military support of the U.S., and the U.S. richly profited as a result. That’s how Cuba came to rack and ruin as America’s whorehouse.

When President Obama now promises that America will, henceforth, stand beside a broken and bleeding Haiti as its staunch partner after they are no longer in the headlines, it means he has learned from history. The emergency aid isn’t just America’s momentary assistance, it’s an act of solidarity that has its origins in America’s collective guilty conscience. The Clintons, ex-President Bill and Secretary of State Hillary, are offering Haiti a long-term alliance that will give America control as its guardian angel. But it must take care not to exploit that role.