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a393: Nation-building: Chamberlain comments on Knowles (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Phil Knowles wrote:
> The comment "I was there when the so-called multi-national force came in
> fall 1994 and DID NOT disarm the Haitian army" may be over simplified.
Knowles is right to call to account those who are fond of mangling history
hindsight and who ignore the nuances he points out.
It's much to do with the contradiction to be observed between "ideologues"
who preach one course of action and then when the main chance
(or some other event) comes up take an opposite stance.
-- Aristide saying he would "never, never, never" agree to be returned
to power by a US invasion and then agreeing to it a few months later.
-- Both sides in the current Haiti conflict raging against foreign
interference but making great efforts to seek it and hoping for it so they
can unfairly win the day.
-- Many on the left in the US supporting the US war in Afghanistan.
Whether or not the US used as an excuse the arguments Phil cites,
and apart from the US troops' benevolence towards the remains
of the paramilitary FRAPH, the problems raised are real ones
conveniently glossed over in the winner-takes-all-by-any-means
mentality in current Haitian political culture. If force can be used to
attain your objective, never mind that you've just been preaching that
others shouldn't use it...
As well asthe cash-for-weapons operation, the US troops
dismantled/destroyed all the tanks, armoured cars and heavy
weaponry of the Haitian army -- which had been key instruments
in all previous coup attempts and successes.
Presumably when Aristide was in control, he could have used his
solid grassroots organisation to do what the Americans couldn't
for the reasons Phil notes. Lavalas could penetrate into those hiding
places. But it wasn't done. Why not? One presumes the hardware
was unquestioningly taken over by the new rulers for their own use.
Some would say this is now obvious. Aristide's great achievement
is to have abolished the pestiferous institution of the army, but in
practice his henchmen have quietly appropriated what was left of its
hardware for his own purposes, as might be expected of any group
people in power Just pointing out the contradiction, even hypocrisy,
in view of the fine words.
The army is still not _legally_ abolished. The constitutional
amendment required is supposed to be passed by the current
parliament, but this has not yet been done.
Members of parliament are still too busy being frightened of
the likes of Sen. Dany Toussaint, the chief suspect in the Jean
Dominique murder, and failing to act on a judge's request
to lift Toussaint's immunity so that he can be charged. Quite why
Toussaint threatened to kill Sen. Prince Sonson Pierre last week
to his face (Sonson has called for Toussaint's immunity to be
removed) if he is innocent, remains a "mystery."
Toussaint, a current or former top military aide of Aristide,
is perhaps the best example of how Lavalas has allowed
the remnants of the old army (Toussaint was a member)
to remain in place for their own ends.
The Convergence is equally guilty for calling (some of its
members) for the army to be restored.
The fact that the US didn't "disarm" the old army is really
irrelevant in the face of these sad facts of Haitian political
practice. But of course, as ever, the US makes a wonderful
scapegoat and handy diversion...
How is universal trust and belief in the use of force in Haitian
politics to be broken? Can any kind of democracy (formal
or more real) be built while this belief remains?