I have several questions about the current situation in Haiti. We’ve seen over the past few weeks rebel forces burning and pillaging town after town on their way to the capital in an effort to remove President Aristide from power. How did we get to this point of civil strife in Haiti? Who will step in and help the Haitians?
First, how did Haiti get to it’s current situation? One of the famous foreign policy interventions of the Clinton Presidency was the controversial decision to return Jean Bertrand Aristide to power in Haiti in 1994. Since 1994, both as president and later as the power broker behind the presidency of Ren Preval and the Lavalas Party, Mr. Aristide has ruled Haiti like a mob don. He has extorted the business community, trampled on the 1987 constitution and terrorized his political and economic opponents. Haiti’s 1994 Presidential election, in which less than 5% of Haitians voted, was a sham. Five international human rights organizations released a joint statement denouncing the election’s violent political climate. Amnesty International called upon the Lavalas Party to condemn acts of intimidation and violence committed in the party’s name. The European Union voted to withhold aid. In response, the Clinton Administration sent Anthony Lake, a former Clinton national security adviser, to Port-au-Prince. He came back with an eight-point agreement in which Mr. Aristide promised better behavior in the future. (anything in that sound eerily similar to another dictator’s broken promises?)
Regarded as Haiti’s legitimate president at that time, U.S. authorities granted Mr. Aristide access to the country’s frozen assets, most notably the long distance telephone royalties due to Haitian Teleco. According to Christopher Caldwell, writing in the July 1994 American Spectator, Mr. Aristide “raised hackles at the Latin America division of AT&T by ordering the proceeds from Haiti’s international phone traffic moved to a numbered Panamanian account.” So it is worth revisiting the status of Haiti today, especially to ask how it came to pass that in the wake of that intervention, President Clinton’s political associates–including a former Democratic Party finance chair, a former White House counselor and Joseph P. Kennedy II–ended up in commercial relationships with the Aristide government’s monopoly-owned telephone company.
In November 1993, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Aristide was paying Democratic Party operative Michael Barnes $55,000 a month to lobby for U.S. action to reinstate him. With the help of U.S. troops, he returned to Haiti. After regaining Haiti’s presidency, the telephone monopoly continued to be useful. Because Haiti is one of the top three markets in the region for long distance calls from the U.S., the monopoly is a cash cow. Mr. Aristide placed loyal Lavalas followers in charge of it, keeping it under his control.
This is pretty interesting. It’s a good thing the Democrat party bills itself as the watchdog of corporate cronyism. It’s nice to know they don’t sell out to “big business” as they claim their political rivals do.
So let’s move on to how Haiti resolves its current conflict. As is par for the course, they’ve come running to the U.S. in a frantic “dial 911″ mode requesting assistance. The Bush Administration has asked the criminal dictator to step down. What’s oddly missing in this scenario is the screams and whines for United Nations actions. Where are the Lefties who acted as human shields in Iraq? Where are the lefties who blamed Bush for being a cowboy and wanted United Nations approval before deciding a course of action?
Oh, here they are. John Kerry said that if he were president, he would be pressing Haitian rebels to back off their goal of toppling Mr. Aristide, perhaps by threatening the deployment of an international peacekeeping force. Threatening? You mean without seeking the U.N.’s approval? What kind of cowboy are you?
Kerry continued, “I think you’ve got to be real and threatening,” he said. His message to the rebels, he said, would be: “You’re not going to take over, you’re not kicking him out, this democracy is going to be sustained, we’re willing to put in a new government, new prime minister, we’re willing to work with you, but you’re not going to succeed in your goal of exiling, Mr. Aristide. And unless that’s clear, you can’t necessarily stop it in its tracks.” (a side note to this is that Kerry’s idea of “democracy” was actually an election in which less than 5% of the citizens actually voted and five international human rights organizations released a joint statement denouncing the election’s violent political climate.)
Well how about that revelation, Mr. Kerry? If you were president you’d threaten the bad guys. You call for regime change and put your foot down. You deploy troops to stop the murderous rampage.
and yet, with a unanimous U.N. resolution and congressional approval (which you voted in) you claim the Bush adminstration somehow acted wrongly by removing Saddam Hussein from power.
Maybe the United Nations will step up to its obligation and do something this time….. probably not.