The Kenyan force might have sufficed when it was first proposed, but the United States and the Security Council have waited too long and now only a full peacekeeping mission of the Security Council with wide participation including that of the United States can save the situation. Anything smaller risks being defeated by the gangs. The force must work side-by-side with the police in the field. Its mandate must include broad new powers to hasten an election (see the proposal by Guichard Doré) in order to give Haiti a government with the authority and legitimacy to master the situation.

Three of the five permanent members of the Security Council have already sent military or police missions to Haiti under Security Council auspices: the United States, France and China. Other major members from Brazil, Argentina, Chile to Canada and Pakistan have also sent them. They all did good work, despite serious missteps, but they all left before the job was done. The report of the International Crisis Group well describes the new U.N. mission’s work to be done in the immediate future. The essays of two scholarly Haitian patriots, Sauveur Pierre Etienne and Guichard Doré, posted on this web page, provide elements of what must be done from the Haitian viewpoint: (1) elections as soon as possible (Doré) to endow Haiti with the high ground of an elected government; and (2) equipping that government with sufficient police and revenue (Etienne) to take control of the situation.

From Etienne’s brilliant essay one learns that the problems have been long in the making; indeed, he traces them back to the circumstances of independence. One very determined Haitian, Henri Christophe, did push ahead on the road to an authoritative and lasting state; but his was the road not taken. The most effective of the MINUSTAH mission chiefs, Edmond Mulet, surveying the whole situation, urged that the next mission have a broad mandate lasting fifteen or twenty years, not subject to yearly renewal by the Security Council. From our experience on ten electoral missions to Haiti (one with the OAS and nine our own) the mission must also take care to safeguard the results of elections. It does not need to run them, because Haiti does have the necessary machinery, but it must protect them from powerful losers. Haiti also needs to re-embrace its current constitution, the basic text from 1987 and the 2012 amendments, and not tinker with it further, because no Haitians kept track of the 2012 changes and further changes would simply make it indecipherable.

Many Americans of goodwill surveying the horror wrought by U.S. policies in Ukraine and Gaza, and remembering well Vietnam, Central America, and Iraq, assume that the same misguided policymakers must be responsible for the situation in Haiti given U.S. power in the region. In reading Etienne’s essay, however, one must be aware that he is an avid Haitian patriot and a skeptic of the United States philosophically. Yet he finds that the U.S. occupation left Haiti in better shape than it found it and that the fault of U.N. missions was that they left before making the needed changes. Etienne does not emphasize these points because they will not endear him to many Haitians, especially those writing from the comfort of the United States. He writes in the tradition of the disciplined Haitian socialist Gérard Pierre-Charles who founded the Organization of the People In Struggle (OPL), one of the oldest political parties still operating in Haiti today. Pierre-Charles never hesitated to call a spade a spade. From Etienne’s essay one can ascertain that it is the fractious Haitian political class, and not the United States, that is most responsible for the breakdown of the Haitian state. Such breakdown is by no means the goal of U.S. policy-makers and they are not happy to see it occur. Much less are they eager to intervene again, as broadcast by Anthony Blinken’s foolish quest to slough off the job to Canada or any other country willing to take it on, even distant Kenya. That kind of gimmickry is going to work no better in Haiti than it has in Ukraine or Gaza. In all three cases it seemed clever to get proxies to do the work and in all three cases it is failing. The agreement of the Security Council to send the Kenya mission was a remarkable accomplishment given that some of the members are practically at war with each other. The desperate situation in Haiti might move those same members to send the full-scale, fully mandated mission that the situation requires.  Who knows, the practice gained in negotiating it might even make ending their wars a thinkable option.