Originally: Nation’s future will depend on foreign role, analysts say
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HEADLINE: Nation’s future will depend on foreign role, analysts say
BYLINE: JIM LANDERS, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON – Haiti’s troubles are so vast that it will require a nation-building effort lasting several years, possibly even an international trusteeship, to help Haitians gain democracy and an economy weaned from corruption and aid, analysts said Sunday.
“If you say ‘It should be a protectorate’ to a Haitian, he will get really angry, because Haiti was the first independent black nation,” said Robert Fatton Jr., a University of Virginia professor and Haiti native. “But we are utterly dependent on the international community. Even to re-establish order, there are no workable institutions in Haiti that can do so.”
Trust territories and protectorates are governing devices by which the United Nations or another international body places an area under the administrative authority of another country or takes on the job itself. The term has all but disappeared in international diplomacy, though vulnerable areas struggling to achieve political self-sufficiency such as Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina rely on multinational administrations and peacekeepers.
On Sunday, France, Canada and the United States joined with Haiti’s Caribbean neighbors to fashion a temporary fix to the crisis by persuading President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down and leave the country while an international military force led by U.S. Marines provides security for a new government.
It marks the fourth time U.S. forces have gone to Haiti to restore order.
‘Break from the past’
President Bush called Mr. Aristide’s ouster a constitutional process and urged Haitians to take advantage of “this break from the past.”
“This government believes it essential that Haiti have a hopeful future,” Mr. Bush said. “This is the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s history.”
Mr. Aristide’s supporters, including several Democratic members of Congress, asserted that the Bush administration had ousted an elected leader.
“I am gravely disappointed by the actions of this administration, and I am disgusted to see their commitment to democracy [is] so shallow,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif.
James Morrell, a former Aristide aide who heads the Haiti Democracy Project in Washington, said Mr. Aristide had become so corrupt and dictatorial that his departure was necessary.
“He made Haiti a safe haven for drug trafficking,” Mr. Morrell said. “No single person was arrested in Haiti for drug trafficking last year.”
To root out corruption, he said, would require “a heavy foreign role.”
“The nation-building we began in the mid-’90s should have been protected with a pervasive presence” of international peacekeepers, he said. “Aristide should have been kept in a box. The institutions we were building all fell away – the police, elections, they all fell away.
“We dropped the ball on nation-building – but it’s not so severe that it requires a protectorate,” he said.
Mr. Morrell said he hoped that nonviolent groups in Haiti could fashion a transition government that would hold at bay Mr. Aristide’s armed supporters and the armed rebels who stormed several cities in Haiti over the last few days.
The protectorate idea was put forward in December by U.S. officials at a conference trying to think through future political developments in the region. The National Security Council, the CIA’s body of senior analytical advisers, staged the conference as part of an exercise to look ahead to the year 2020.
“One anomaly of the region could well be that Haiti, having failed completely and beyond redemption, became a protectorate of the United Nations or the Organization of American States,” the conference reported.
A senior official with an international body closely involved in Haitian diplomacy agreed with Mr. Morrell that making Haiti a protectorate – especially a protectorate of the United States – “makes no sense.”
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Haiti needs long-term assistance from several nations working in concert.
“It is very discouraging to look at what has happened since Aristide went back 10 years ago – the amount of aid that was lost, the police training that went for naught,” he said. “We have to rebuild the institutions, help them elect a parliament again, a president again, and see if this time they are able to assimilate international aid.”
Mr. Fatton and Mr. Morrell agreed that the kind of sustained international assistance Haiti needs will be a challenge.
“This is a society that is deeply sick, politically, economically, and even morally sick. It’s a system so far gone that, if you are not corrupt, you are seen as an idiot,” Mr. Fatton said. “Would the United States want that problem next door? Would it rather engineer an exit from what for Haitians is a huge crisis?”
GRAPHIC: PHOTO(S): Boniface Alexandre. CHART(S): HAITI’S INTERIM LEADER.
LOAD-DATE: March 1, 2004