I haven’t said mcuh about Aristide’s exile from Haiti, because I didn’t know what to say. Fortunately, we have Ralph Peters to capture the tragedy of that nation — and the Franco-American involvement — for us:
We should have let him hang.
That sounds cruel, of course. But we consistently focus on the leader’s rights and forget the population’s suffering. Our intervention (supported by France, which is always a bad sign) saved one life – Aristide’s – at a potentially terrible cost to a country already ravaged by poverty, misrule, AIDS, gang violence and civil war.
We simply delayed a resolution. Haiti is, again, on hold. We’re arguing that power must be shared and compromises reached. In effect, this means we’re backing Aristide’s supporters: They were on the brink of a clear and incontestable defeat; we kept them on life-support.
This isn’t meant to praise the rebels. There’s little to choose between the various factions – thugs, crooks and demagogues rule on all sides. But unless we intend to remain in Haiti and oversee a neocolonial reconstruction of the country (desirable, but unlikely), the best hope for the Haitian people would have been a decisive win by either side. Unattractive though the resulting government would have been, at least it would have had a winner’s authority.
Instead, our good intentions have guaranteed continued strife and violence. Aristide uses his exile to foment further dissension, dreaming that the United Nations will return him to power as the United States once did. Conspiracy theories abound, in Port au Prince, on the Potomac and around the world. And we have ourselves to blame.