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February 26, 2004 11:03 AM   Subscribe

"I don't think that there's any question about the fact that the weapons that they have did not come from Haiti," says Kurzban. "They're organized as a military commando strike force that's going from city to city."

Parts of the rebellion's leadership, such as head of military operations Louis Chamberlain, were leaders in the attempted 1994 Hatian coup that resulted in the use of 20,000 U.S. troops. A coup which, according to the U.N. Human Right Commission, was supported and aided by the CIA. In other words, this wouldn't be the first time that the U.S. has played on both sides of a Haitian military uprising.

Meanwhile, Bush refuses to protect President Aristide's life - and perhaps the lives of thousands of Hatians - citing the opposition's refusal of a U.S. peace plan. Silmultaneously, he issued a harsh pronouncement warning refugee Hatians off from American shores.
"It is clear that the right wing in this country does not support that democracy," said Jesse Jackson, today. "(Bush) is, in fact, supporting overthrow of this government in this hemisphere."
posted by kaibutsu (22 comments total)

 
I'm personally very confused by what's going on in Haiti. It has many elements of a citizen's uprising, and the opposition leadership relies heavily on disgruntled peasants, at the very least for public relations. But, at the same time, I've heard statements that the main fighting force consists of heavily trained guerilla strike teams, using heavy machine guns that were apparently sent by the U.S. to the Dominican republic just weeks ago. Weapons 'unlike anything this country has seen' according to an interview on "Democracy Now!" two days ago.

I get the definite feeling that there's a lot more going on here than the mainstream press is reporting. It may be a while before the dust settles enough to be able to say for sure exactly what happened, but, given past U.S. operations in the region, I think it's important to keep our eyes open, and try to figure out how our involvement is shaping these events. We're clearly the leaders in the 'peace-keeping' process at this point, and if we are in fact hoping for the dissolution of Arristide's government, then we are in no way fit for that position.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:10 AM on February 26, 2004


I have limited sympathy for Aristide, given that he rigged the last election. If he hadn't done that, it would be a clear case of the overthrow of a democratically-elected government.

As it is, it's a clear case of a coup against a government that's been recognized but never quite legitimate and which has its own thugs terrorizing and murdering its citizens.

It doesn't make a lot of sense to risk the lives of troops if there's no exit strategy, and no sense of who they'll be supporting or what will come next. So let Aristide come to an agreement before we send in troops, I say.
posted by Dasein at 11:17 AM on February 26, 2004


"(Bush) is, in fact, supporting overthrow of this government in this hemisphere."

and i support him 100%!!! never has there been a government more deserving of overthrow! hang them all from the streetlamps of DC!
what?!?! he means the *haitian* government?????

never mind.
</roseanna mandanabanana>
posted by quonsar at 11:22 AM on February 26, 2004


See Also:

The AP's "Who's Who" article.

CIA World Factbook

Additional Commondreams links:
Can Democracy Survive in Haiti? (This article has more historical background on the FRAPH and the first coup.)
Background on Haiti: Questions and Answers
Haiti's Second Coup
Throttled By History
posted by kaibutsu at 11:23 AM on February 26, 2004


It doesn't make a lot of sense to risk the lives of troops if there's no exit strategy, and no sense of who they'll be supporting or what will come next. So let Aristide come to an agreement before we send in troops, I say.

yes, i remember you saying the same thing about saddam.
posted by quonsar at 11:24 AM on February 26, 2004


It doesn't make a lot of sense to risk the lives of troops if there's no exit strategy, and no sense of who they'll be supporting or what will come next.

All the more reason to make it a CIA operation than an upright military operation, yeah? This whole thing tastes a lot like those Regan-era Latin American 'rebellions,' which is why I'm uncomfortable with the thing...
posted by kaibutsu at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2004


While I won't refute in the least possible covert involvement and support by the US, I'm just stumped by the question of why? What has Aristide done or not done to invoke America's apathy? I'll say this much; there are only slight improvements in the Haitian standard of living, but most of the more noticeable changes are in urban areas. The countryside is still struggling, and more so, as erosion begins to overtake arable land. I don't think Aristide has done much in the past few years to advance the cause of rural Haitians, and the dubious elections a few years ago only fueled that fire. Opposition groups struggle up-hill to get a word in edgewise against the Famile Lavalas (Aristide's party, "Family of the Avalanche"). Unfortunately, these conditions help to create a fertile ground for rebellion, a regular occurrence in Haiti's political history. Possibly, the only way to solve this crisis is to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible, monitored by the UN, which would then assist with a transfer of power, if indeed there was one.
posted by moonbird at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2004


Apathy wasn't really the word I was going for there. Maybe" official apathy" with a good bit of covert ops on the side...
posted by moonbird at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2004


so is Bush wrong when he sends forces to Iraq because he intervenes in another state's business, or is he wrong when he does not send forces to Haiti, thus not intervening in another state's business? Is it bad to be an isolationist or bad to be one?

Or is it about Bush and how wrong he always is, and Haiti is just a pretext for yet another chanting of our favorite mantra?
posted by bokononito at 11:44 AM on February 26, 2004


" Possibly, the only way to solve this crisis is to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible, monitored by the UN, which would then assist with a transfer of power, if indeed there was one."

We should do the same thing in America.

No, I kid! I kid!

Yeah, this whole Haiti thing has CIA written all over it.
posted by geekhorde at 11:46 AM on February 26, 2004


yes, i remember you saying the same thing about saddam

Totally different situation. First, the Americans do have an exit strategy, and it's clearly put the fear of God into the terrorists. (I don't deny that they should have had a better plan for occupation, but deficiencies there are negated by point two.) Second, given the (since-discredited) evidence on WMD, and the manifest unwillingness of Saddam to disarm and allow inspectors without 100,000 troops sitting on his border, it was reasonable to conclude that he posed a long-term security risk to the U.S., which Haiti doesn't. So let's not compare apples and oranges.

All the more reason to make it a CIA operation than an upright military operation, yeah?

Well, no, that would be an even worse idea, but nice straw man nevertheless.
posted by Dasein at 11:54 AM on February 26, 2004


Straw man much, bokononito? It's civil war in Haiti, and there are several places where civilians are in serious physical danger- that's a big difference.

The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that this is an attempt to completely destabilize a country so that we can go in, end the bloodshed, and engage in some photo-friendly "nation building" as an election-year distraction.
posted by mkultra at 12:06 PM on February 26, 2004


Photo and movie showing difference between Haiti and Dominican.
posted by trharlan at 12:08 PM on February 26, 2004


Well, maybe we can send in Jimmy Carter again. That's what happened last time. Or maybe they should have just left it alone last time.

I got a free week on the island of Great Inagua in '94. Great during the day, horrendous at night. MASSIVE mosquito population that came out at night when the winds dropped.
posted by a3matrix at 12:16 PM on February 26, 2004


Great (and thoroughly depressing) link, tharlan...
posted by mkultra at 12:24 PM on February 26, 2004


It's interesting that the US has said it won't intervene in Haiti, because Aristide was democratically elected. Which must confuse the hell out of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, because he was democratically elected and the US did a whole lot of intervening on behalf of the designer-clothing-clad coupsters last year.

And don't forget Grenada, of course.
posted by riviera at 12:36 PM on February 26, 2004


Someone in Haiti better strike oil and soon.
Else they are doomed.
Perhaps they can become another offshore corporate shelter if there's no oil?
They've got to come up with something to offer the Corporate States of America!
posted by nofundy at 12:54 PM on February 26, 2004


if military action should be needed, I say the french should go in.

engage in some photo-friendly "nation building" as an election-year distraction.

i think not. it is democratically elected, for what that means. the committment of troops would not make a good photo IMO. This means more money, troops and potential danger. neutrality seems prudent.
posted by clavdivs at 1:23 PM on February 26, 2004


riviera, does it really matter to a president who himself wasn't democratically elected?
posted by jmgorman at 1:33 PM on February 26, 2004


so is Bush wrong when he sends forces to Iraq because he intervenes in another state's business, or is he wrong when he does not send forces to Haiti, thus not intervening in another state's business?

Actually, that is one of the reason's I objected to the Iraq invasion. US troops have long been used as a stabilizing force in South America and more recently in Europe. (Wether these cases have been successful is another discussion) Now, after the Iraq invasion, US troops are stretched too thin and any international goodwill toward building a coalition has vanished. By going on its own, America finds itself on its own and may not be nearly as effective as providing the security so many nations and people have depended on. The opposition to the Iraq invasion, in my mind, was not rooted in isolationism, but in the effective use of US military power. We should have gone into Rwanda and now we should go into Haiti. Just because, Hama7, Clinton was wrong, doesn't mean W is right.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:50 PM on February 26, 2004


I'm not sure we have any troops left to send into Haiti. However, I think inaction is the right policy in this case, since there is no right side. Aristide has lost all credibility but his opposition doesn't strike me as particularly legitimate. In cases like these, we ought to recognize the limits of U.S. power and stay out of it unless we have a clear goal and a plan.
posted by gspira at 4:48 PM on February 26, 2004


We don't neccesarily have to send in the troops. Apparently, a couple coups back, we offered the head-of-state safe transit to Europe in order to prevent massive bloodshed in the capital. I don't see why we're not offering a similar preventative measure this time around.

I'm not really bringing this up in order to bash the president; I'm concerned that we could be handling this in a much more coherent fashion, concerned that there's so little information on how it's being handled, and concerned that there may be a lot more going on than what the media is covering.

The big question, of course, is motive, as someone pointed out. Why is the U.S. leadership so apathetic on this? We're almost literally sitting on our hands, in the best case interpretation, and actively playing both sides, in the conspiracy-theorist viewpoint. But, previous involvement with Haiti being as it was, the conspiracy nuts aren't neccesarily crazy on this one.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:35 AM on February 27, 2004


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