[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
#5359: CLINTON-GORE POLICY ON HAITI HAS BEEN A FAILURE (fwd)
THE MIAMI HERALD
Friday, October 20, 2000
By Jesse Helms
CLINTON-GORE POLICY ON HAITI HAS BEEN A FAILURE
Constitutional order: suspended.
Government institutions: dysfunctional.
Political murderers: on the loose.
Law and order: disintegrating.
Drug smuggling: rampant.
Four years after Vice President Gore proclaimed the Clinton administration's
Haiti policy as "one of the most deft uses of diplomacy and military force in
combination that you will find anywhere in the annals of the history of this
country," it is today little more than smoldering wreckage of a wrongheaded
policy. (Responsibility for these disastrous results rests squarely with
cynical, inept policy-makers in the White House.)
Haiti scarcely would be a priority for the Untied States had the Clinton-Gore
administration not used the full measure of U.S. power and influence to
restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power five years ago. Certainly,
the Haitians have done their part to waste the opportunities given them by
U.S. taxpayers (and 20,000 U.S. troops). The spoilers were, by great irony,
the very people President Clinton restored to power: Aristide and his
entourage of thugs.
Prior to invading Haiti, the administration refused to acknowledge the
obvious realities: 1) there was no record of democracy upon which to build;
and 2) Aristide was neither a democrat nor a friend. Nevertheless, the
administration centered its policy on the restoration of Aristide, not
Taking his side and his puppet successor's, the Clinton-Gore administration
ignored the democratic opposition, shunned Haiti's pluralistic parliament and
let Aristide's cohorts literally get away with murder. It worked only
half-heartedly with the legislature and opposition parties and then under
pressure from the U.S. Congress. And, by tolerating a series of farcical
elections, the administration is set to deliver Haiti directly into the hands
of Aristide and his thuggish associates in national elections by year's end.
The Clinton administration has wasted more than $30 million on a succession
of flawed and fraudulent elections. Instead of acknowledging and fixing
problems, the administration and biased OAS observer missions pushed Haitians
to settle for farcical processes, discrediting democracy itself.
By the 1997 legislative elections, Haitians had become so disillusioned that
voter participation dwindled to less than 5 percent. With declining
participation came greater consolidation of power in the hands of Aristide's
cultish Lavalas movement.
Despite a lead-up to the May 2000 elections characterized by President Rene
Preval's anti-democratic maneuvering, violence, stolen election materials and
logistical difficulties, many Haitians voted courageously in local and
legislative elections. Unwilling to share power, the ruling Lavalas Party
pressured the electoral council to certify false results and drove the
president of the council to refuge in the United States. With him out of the
way, fraudulent results became the official results.
There is also a depressing irony that the Clinton administration, which used
human-rights violations to justify the invasion policy, maintained the mere
appearance of human-rights monitoring in Haiti.
Today Preval's government continues to block investigations into political
murders. Impunity prevails.
Although the Clinton administration often has touted the creation of the
Haitian National Police as the cornerstone of law and order in Haiti, it has
dropped the ball there as well. The police force has come under relentless
attacks. Added to this is the erosion of the police force by corruption,
politicization, drug trafficking and human-rights violations.
Also, in five years of U.S. stewardship, Haiti has become a primary transit
point for cocaine bound for the United States and done so poorly on drug
cooperation that it has been twice "decertified" by Clinton.
Last year, then-U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Timothy Carney noted: "Haiti is a
long way from getting democracy. It lacks nearly all of the elements that
make up a democracy. Overall, our expectations were too high. Did we let
ourselves be led by our hopes instead of analysis?" The answer is Yes.
Misguided hopes aside, consider what could have been done -- in flood-ravaged
North Carilina , for example - with a fraction of the $3 billion frittered
away by an irresponsible administration on an unreliable partner in Haiti.
The White House probably never will admit to itself that its "success" in
Haiti was never more than a fiction sustained at the expense of U.S.
credibility, military and taxpayers and the aspirations of the Haitian
people. The rest of us know the awful truth.
U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations