As violence spreads in Haiti, and the world begs the Bush Administration to do something, let’s all recall how we arrived at this pass. What we have had for nearly 10 years in that desperate country is a despotic government supported lock, stock and machete by the U.S. liberal foreign policy establishment. The Bush Administration is now stuck with trying to clean up the mess.
Bill Clinton dispatched 20,000 U.S. troops to Haiti in 1994 to restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power against a military junta. He did so largely at the behest of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose Members hailed Mr. Aristide as a democrat who deserved American financial and moral support. Prominent Democrats were Mr. Aristide’s benefactors in Congress, while others became his lobbyists in Washington and won lucrative Haitian phone contracts.
Most of them have stayed silent, or actively supported the former priest, even as he steadily became one of the nastier rulers in the Western hemisphere. His paramilitary squads have terrorized the political opposition. Such prominent opponents as radio host Brignol Lindor have turned up dead. Mr. Aristide controls the national police, as well as large chunks of the economy.
No wonder so many Haitians who once supported Mr. Aristide have joined the rebellion against him. The armed rebels now advancing toward Port-au-Prince may number only a few hundred. But they have met little resistance because most Haitians agree with their cause. The opposition includes the Group of 184, a civic group that wants elections as well as the right to congregate without being attacked by Aristide gangs.
Yet even now we hear that the U.S. must intervene to support Mr. Aristide because he is a “democrat” who was “freely and fairly elected.” Four prominent Congressional Democrats, including John Conyers, recently sent a letter to President Bush opposing any “international military force” unless it props up Mr. Aristide.