[Marxism] Hard Realities in Haiti (NY Times edit)

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Thu Mar 4 03:47:37 MST 2004

The Times is pointing out that the Bush administration has once again
ousted a bourgeois nationalist regime without having a viable
alternative leadership in place, as they did in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The result so far has been ongoing chaos and civil war in Afghanistan,
and the movement of sections of the Iraqi population into political life
for the first time in decades in Iraq.  The section of the ruling class
that the Times represents fears that the result in Haiti could end up
being the further destabilization rather than the reinforcement of
imperialist domination in the  Caribbean region.

The comment about "whisking ...democratically elected president, Jean
Bertrand Aristide off to Africa" is a comment on the bad international
odor of the anti-Aristide coup by US troops, following on the exposure
of the "weapons of mass destruction" scam.

I certainly hope there were gun battles when the rightist forces raided
Port au Prince neighborhoods, but I am afraid this is just a
prettification of murders by the rightists.
Fred Feldman

Hard Realities in Haiti

Published: March 4, 2004

 Rescuing Haiti from a crisis Washington too long ignored and then badly
mishandled is going to take a lot more than whisking its democratically
elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, off to Africa and gingerly
deploying a few hundred United States marines. Yesterday, those marines
rightly moved beyond their original mission of safeguarding only
American lives and property, and began patrolling the tense streets of
Port-au-Prince. Earlier in the day, fierce gun battles raged in the
capital's strongly pro-Aristide slums, where rampaging rebel bands
battled Aristide supporters.

The Bush administration's belated and ham-handed intervention last
weekend practically delivered Haiti into the hands of an unsavory gang
of convicted murderers and former death squad officers under the overall
command of Guy Philippe, whom American and Haitian officials believe to
be a drug trafficker. Mr. Aristide's opponents also include plenty of
nonviolent democrats, but they are weak and divided and have so far been
easily pushed aside. Their most significant act to date was torpedoing
an American-proposed compromise last month that might have strengthened
Haiti's anemic democratic institutions. 

Now those institutions have all but collapsed. The Supreme Court justice
hastily sworn in on Sunday as interim president has kept out of public
view, limiting himself to a single radio address. Mr. Philippe has
threatened to arrest the prime minister, now under the Marines'
protection. Other ministers have gone into hiding. It looks as if
Washington will have to pry power away forcefully from Mr. Philippe, who
proclaimed himself leader of a reborn Haitian Army on Tuesday, reviving
a military force that long dominated and terrorized Haiti. Yesterday, he
promised to disarm his followers. Washington needs to make sure that he
keeps his word. 

The United States has compelling reasons for involving itself again in
Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation, which American troops occupied
twice in the 20th century. After intervening to restore Mr. Aristide,
the first democratically elected president in Haitian history, to office
in 1994, Washington failed to do enough to help develop strong
institutions, like an independent police force and judiciary, to sustain
democratic rule. These high-minded arguments for continued involvement
are supplemented by less-refined political considerations. Continued
disorder in Haiti would propel thousands of desperate refugees toward
nearby Florida, something Mr. Bush surely does not want in a
presidential election year. 

Yet after costly nation-building stumbles in Afghanistan and Iraq, it's
astonishing to see the administration assume responsibility for yet
another failed state with so little forethought or serious planning. In
a sadly familiar pattern, the White House again seems to have convinced
itself that with the departure of a leader it detested and the arrival
of American troops, political bitterness built up over generations would
evaporate, hardened fighters would simply lay down their arms, and
effective, popular pro-American politicians would emerge to run a newly
functional government. 

Administration officials may already be starting to recognize that a far
more active, lengthy and expensive American role will be required. 

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