Research: Publications

Haiti: Success Under Fire

January 2, 1995 | Policy Brief

By James Morrell

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The liberation of Haiti by American troops, an operation that was highly unnatural for Washington to begin with, is coming under increasing pressure from both the Republicans in Congress and right-wing paramilitary forces in Haiti. The Republicans seem posed to pounce on any set back in an operation that has gone flawlessly until now; the gunmen and former army men have emerged from the shadows to stage a violent protest at army headquarters and an increasingly bold series of armed robberies in Port-au- Prince.

The Clinton Administration, meanwhile, seems almost ashamed of its success in Haiti. To avoid drawing Republican attention it refrains from taking credit for its virtually casualty-free restoration of democracy there, leaving the operation bereft of supporters in the United States. Both the right and the left in American politics scorn the operation, the right because in was an intervention for the populist priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the left because it was an intervention at all. The policy has been unable to expand its constituency beyond the Congressional Black Caucus and the Florida congressional delegation, which experienced firsthand the impact of Haitians fleeing their homeland. This lack of support for the operation increases its vulnerability to the setbacks that are almost inevitable in the hemisphere's poorest nation, which must build both economic infrastructure and democratic institutions from the ground up. Fairness calls for a far greater acknowledgment of President Clinton's courage and leadership in attacking the Haitian problem at its roots.

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