Skip to comments.How Bush-Cheney Policy Screwed Haiti (Mega-Barf Alert)
Posted on 01/14/2010 6:23:42 PM PST by texanyankee
In the wake of the devastating earthquake, American eyes are again turned toward Haitisomething that only seems to happen when yet another disaster strikes, and never during the daily chaos and misery that plague the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Ive spent a good deal of time in Haiti, reporting first on the repression under the Duvaliers, then on the rise of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's popular movement, and then on the 1991 military coup that brought him down. I was there during the period of the 1994 military intervention that restored Aristede to power.
US interest in the country seemed to wane with the departure of American troops, and in the aftermath of September 11 and the Bush administration's numerous adventures around the world, Haiti returned to its usual state of invisibility in Western eyes. Few people noticed a remarkable report that appeared in the New York Times in 2006, based in part on the analysis of former ambassador Brian Dean Curran, showing how US policy helped to destabalize Haiti in the years leading up to 2004, when Aristede was again forced out by armed rebels under an accused death squad leader. Written shortly before the election won by current president Rene Preval, Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg titled their story "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos." Here's their account of the events following Aristede's 2004 departure:
Haiti, never a model of stability, soon dissolved into a state so lawless it stunned even those who had pushed for the removal of Mr. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who rose to power as the champion and hero of Haitis poor.
Today, the capital, Port-au-Prince, is virtually paralyzed by kidnappings, spreading panic among rich and poor alike. Corrupt police officers in uniform have assassinated people on the streets in the light of day. The chaos is so extreme and the interim government so dysfunctional that voting to elect a new one has already been delayed four times .
Yet even as Haiti prepares to pick its first elected president since the rebellion two years ago, questions linger about the circumstances of Mr. Aristide's ousterand especially why the Bush administration, which has made building democracy a centerpiece of its foreign policy in Iraq and around the world, did not do more to preserve it so close to its shores. The Times story explains how Bush administration's flawed policy undermined democracy in Haiti:
The Bush administration has said that while Mr. Aristide was deeply flawed, its policy was always to work with him as Haitis democratically elected leader. But the administrations actions in Haiti did not always match its words. Interviews and a review of government documents show that a democracy-building group close to the White House, and financed by American taxpayers, undercut the official United States policy and the ambassador assigned to carry it out.
As a result, the United States spoke with two sometimes contradictory voices in a country where its words carry enormous weight. That mixed message, the former American ambassador said, made efforts to foster political peace "immeasurably more difficult." Without a political agreement, a weak government was destabilized further, leaving it vulnerable to the rebels.
Mr. Curran accused the democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute, of trying to undermine the reconciliation process after disputed 2000 Senate elections threw Haiti into a violent political crisis. The groups leader in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, an avowed Aristide opponent from the Haitian elite, counseled the opposition to stand firm, and not work with Mr. Aristide, as a way to cripple his government and drive him from power, said Mr. Curran, whose account is supported in crucial parts by other diplomats and opposition figures. Many of these people spoke publicly about the events for the first time.
Mr. Curran, a 30-year Foreign Service veteran and a Clinton appointee retained by President Bush, also accused Mr. Lucas of telling the opposition that he, not the ambassador, represented the Bush administrations true intentions. Records show that Mr. Curran warned his bosses in Washington that Mr. Lucass behavior was contrary to American policy and "risked us being accused of attempting to destabilize the government." Yet when he asked for tighter controls over the I.R.I. in the summer of 2002, he hit a roadblock after high officials in the State Department and National Security Council expressed support for the pro-democracy group, an American aid official wrote at the time.
The International Republican Institute is one of several prominent nonprofit groups that receive federal funds to help countries develop the mechanisms of democracy, like campaigning and election monitoring. Of all the groups, though, the I.R.I. is closest to the administration. President Bush picked its president, Lorne W. Craner, to run his administrations democracy-building efforts. The institute, which works in more than 60 countries, has seen its federal financing nearly triple in three years, from $26 million in 2003 to $75 million in 2005. Last spring, at an I.R.I. fund-raiser, Mr. Bush called democracy-building "a growth industry." These groups walk a fine line. Under federal guidelines, they are supposed to nurture democracy in a nonpartisan way, lest they be accused of meddling in the affairs of sovereign nations. But in Haiti, according to diplomats, Mr. Lucas actively worked against President Aristide.
While it can be counted on not to engage in these kinds of deadly shenanigans, the Obama administration hasnt taken much meaingful action on Haiti in the past year. It did pull back on some of the harshest deportation policies of the Bush years, which affected Haitians fleeing their countrys shores. But it has implemented few of the recommendations, for example, put out by the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network after Obamas inauguration, which included canceling debts and increasing trade.
For the most part, Europe and the United States have continued to sit by as Haiti has grown poorer and poorer. When I was there you could find the children just outside Cite Soleil, the giant slum, living in the garbage dump, waiting for the US army trucks to dump the scraps left from the meals of American soldiers. There they stood, knee deep in garbage, fighting for bits of food. As for the old, they people every street, gathering at the Holiday Inn at Port au Prince in wheelchairs, waiting at the doorway in search of a coin or two. They have no social safety net. And nobody with any moneyno bank, no insurance company, no hedge fund, no mutual fundever makes any serious investment in the country.
It is hard to imagine what a magnitude 7 earthquake might do to a city that on any ordinary day already resembles a disaster area. Today, compassionate Americans will wince at the photos, then pick their way among the foundations which offer alms to the Haitian poor. Here is one unlikely proposal to help Haiti, taken from Juan Cole's email listserv this morning:
Memo to Obama on Haiti: "It's reported that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase combined have set aside $47 billion for bonuses," says an NPR account, according to Cole. "Haiti's annual gross domestic product in nominal terms is about $7 bn. a year. Seize the bonuses. Send them to Haiti."
It'll never happen, of course. But if there were any justice in the world, it would.
Lol...a broken record. They must have been upset over the Pot route being disrupted.
U.S. Grant wanted to purchase Haiti. That would have saved the people a lot of misery.
The best thing for Haiti would be for a first world power to come in and simply take over the government colonial-style, and establish the rule of law and provide roads, schools, hospitals, etc., until such time as the culture evolves to a point where the local society can manage to sustain the rule of law itself.
It can never happen, though.
We are indeed in a topsy-turvy world.
Bush’s Fault....Lather, Rinse, Repeat...Bush’s Fault.... Lather, Rinse, Repeat
This article shows that political hatred has grown so strong in America that natural disasters are now routinely politicized. This will not end well.
And with Dubya agreeing to lead the relief effort - along with Clinton - this should be a field day for the press.
Obama knows this will work for his own advantage....
Sorry, but Haiti is Clinton’s screw-up.
Is it Bush 41 or Bush 43 that is being tasked?
I heard Dubya - #43 - was asked & has agreed to join with Clinton.
I only can surmise that #41 is just getting to feeble to take on another task like this.
We should try to persuade the government of Mexico to step in and teach them how to govern.
Thanks for that interesting info.. I had read a headline about it and assumed it was Bush 41 because he had teamed up w/ Clinton on other missions.
What no Palin? How about William Howard Taft?
Its Taft’s fault...not enough dollar diplomacy eh?
Oh, Jimmie boy, you lost me at “a remarkable report that appeared in the New York Times in 2006”.
The Marxist crowd has been blaming everything on the U.S. since the 1960’s. They have been demonstrated to have been repeatedly wrong for decades. The only two communist countries left in the World are North Korea and Cuba, both of which are squalid, impoverished dictatorships. The only reason these leftist idiots keep up this drumbeat of blame is that they fantasize about running the country. Let me rephrase that, they fantasize about ruining the country.
instead of sending your wasted contributions to Coakley in Mass.
Why not send them to Haiti?
Who knew the Bush/Rove weather machine also does earthquakes?
Note to those who endorse this point of view:
Blaming Bush is like public masturbation:
It might make YOU feel good, but nobody else needs to see it.
Rush was right....he nailed this prediction about how the press would find a way to drag Bush into this.
While private citizens, no less.
For reference, from my files:
Haiti, descending into chaos again
various FR links | 02-11-04 | The Heavy Equipment Guy