Listen to What the Haitian People Want
The people of Haiti do not want outside intervention. This is what their corrupt political elites want for their own reasons.
A group of more than 90 nonprofit, human rights, antiwar, and Haitian diaspora organizations has sent a letter to the president calling on him to reject military intervention in Haiti:
We write to once again encourage your administration to listen to Haitian civil society; respect the fundamental rights of the Haitian people to shape Haitian solutions; and reevaluate U.S. support to the de facto Prime Minister Henry, as that unconditional support has removed any incentive for him to negotiate with opponents in good faith. We are deeply worried that the deployment of a military force now will only perpetuate and strengthen Henry’s grasp on power, while doing little to ameliorate the root causes of today’s crisis.
We encourage your administration to reflect on the long history of international interventions in Haiti, and how those actions have served to undermine state institutions, democratic norms, and the rule of law. Previous interventions have had a costly human toll, including through rape, sexual exploitation, and extrajudicial killings. As Doctors Without Borders has warned, such an intervention would mean “more bullets, more injuries and more patients.
The letter hits all the important points. Military intervention in Haiti will likely make conditions there worse, and if it happens it will be against the wishes of most of the Haitian people. Past interventions have led to human rights abuses and the spread of disease without delivering the promised security and stability that they were supposed to provide. The crucial point is that the people in Haiti calling for outside intervention are holding on to power without any legitimate mandate from the people. The de facto prime minister Ariel Henry does not speak for the people of his country. The people of Haiti do not want outside intervention. This is what their corrupt political elites want for their own reasons.
Jonathan Katz wrote about this yesterday:
This will, in effect, just bolster another gang: the clique that Henry currently represents, its allied elites, and whatever loyal faction they favor within the Haitian National Police. In other words, outside force may give a different group access to the fuel port and keep the current clique in relative power a little longer. But it will do nothing to prevent the violence and inequality that rive Haitian society. Only forcing the unpopular and manifestly undemocratic Henry government to share or cede power, preparing the ground for eventual elections and a return to Haitian democracy, and ending a century of destructive U.S. interference in their affairs, will give ordinary Haitians a shot at survival.
As I said in one of my columns last month, “Military intervention would be a risky proposition even if it enjoyed broad popular support, but to pursue it when there is so much vocal opposition to it inside the country is inexcusable arrogance.” It might be a different story if most Haitians were clamoring for outside help, but they most definitely are not doing that. They have seen what that “help” looks like many times before, and they understandably don’t want more of it. The U.S. should not be part of any intervention in Haiti, and it should not support an intervention carried out by other governments. It is remarkable that this even has to be said, but such is the bias in favor of “doing something” in our debates that we have to keep saying it.
The U.S. has been wrong in providing support to the current de facto leadership, and that is one of the things that needs to change. Beyond that, the U.S. has to break with its long habit of interfering in Haitian affairs, whether that comes in the form of direct intervention or providing support for the latest would-be strongman. The U.S. has to learn to respect Haitian sovereignty and independence, and the beginning of that is to refrain from backing an unwanted military mission in their country. This is an extremely low bar, and it is not obvious that the U.S. is capable of clearing it, but it is the bare minimum the U.S. can do after all the damage it has caused and enabled over the decades.
"The people of Haiti do not want outside intervention." In a recent radio-station poll taken in Haiti, 81 percent wanted it. There is no fuel, no way to move food or clean water or run pumps. Tens of thousands WILL die of cholera and starvation in any case. Hundreds of thousands WILL DIE of it if we do nothing. Daniel Larison, with the best intentions in the world, would deny international solidarity to the people of Haiti because of a general aversion to U.S. intervention. He is right about this. I fully share his aversion, remembering Vietnam, Iraq and now Ukraine. I personally went to jail eight times protesting that first atrocity. But he is applying generally-valid deductive reasoning to a particular situation he has not studied, because he omitted the blockade of fuel and gang violence from his analysis. We can go turn on the tap and drink clean water. The Haitians can't. Cholera is spreading because they have dirty water to drink or none at all. Would that the Haitians could handle this situation as Daniel Larison recommends, but they cannot. Would that the question were as easy as he contends it is, but it is not. There are only bad answers -- welcome to Haiti! Either international assistance with the blight on sovereignty, or mass disease and starvation. He has fled the harsh truth for generally-valid verities. Haiti is sui generis. He seeks the easy way out by contending that the United States is backing the wrong horse in Haiti and if we would just get out of the way the wonderful civil society of Haiti would rally and provide governance. Oh how lovely and how I wish it were true! The unpleasant truth is that Haitian politics is about one clique contending with another for the spoils of office. Those out of office have met in a hotel and declared that they represent the Haitian people. There is always an in-office and out-of-office clique with the same goal, les mêmes pots de vin. For thirty years I've been watching to see someone different come in, and they haven't. That's not for lack of turnover. It goes deeper. What we can say for sure is that international peacekeeping, decided on at the U.N. Security Council, has helped. Before the U.N. mission came in 2004, five of the last seven presidents had been overthrown. While it was there, all four handed over the sash to successors. After if left, the president was assassinated. While it was there, Haiti held nine elections. Since it left, none. Yes, they introduced cholera and abused women. No Haitian will ever forget that. But you've got to weigh, weigh, weigh. Weigh those forfeitures against the catastrophic lack of governance and chaos that we've got now. And don't listen to one group of Haitians, listen to the generality.
Since when did the Empire give the tip of a turd for what the people want? Was there a vote before the War on Iraq that nobody told us about or something? The Empire does what the Empire wants.
This is a joke, right?