Saturday, February 28, 2004

# Posted 9:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ON THE RIGHT TRACK IN HAITI: I haven't read more than a half-dozen articles about the situation there, but it seems like the Bush administration is handling the situation fairly responsibly. Both Colin Powell and the human rights community seem to agree that the leaders of the insurrection are a collection of notorious thugs and murderers. At the same time, President Bush has clearly identified Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the individual whose corruption and selfishness are responsible for igniting the rebellion.

Bush is now stating pretty clearly that Aristide must go. Obviously, doing so raises the possibility that the rebels may take over. Yet having Aristide go now may result in there be a lot less violence than if the rebels had to invade Port Au Prince and haul him out. Morevoer, if Aristide resigns in response to American pressure, the rebels will be robbed of the legitimacy that comes from ousting a dictator (cf. "Sandinistas").

I don't how much chance there is that the democratic opposition to Arisitide can become an interim government in the event of the President's resignation. But if the US, UN and France all support a clear pro-democracy line, the worst may not come to pass.

Oh, and by the way, notice how neither the NYT nor the WaPo said anything bad about the rebels until the last couple of days. But that's the kind of oversight you should expect when big-name correspondents fly around the world from trouble spot to trouble spot rather than really learning about any of the nations they cover. For example, last week the WaPo identifed Louis-Jodel Chamblain as a "former army officer". The NYT described M. Chamblain as "leader of the rebel troops" and quoted him as saying that
"Cap Haitien is a symbol of Haiti's freedom. This fight is to liberate the Haitian people under the regime of Jean-Bertrand Aristide."
Today, the NYT describes Chamblain and Jean-Pierre Baptiste as
Two leaders of Fraph, the Haitian Front for Advancement and Progress. Fraph was an instrument of terror wielded by the military junta that overthrew Haiti's embattled president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in 1991. It killed thousands over the next three years.
You know, you'd think that American journalists would be more skeptical when someone claims to be waging a war of liberation. After all, a few months ago, someone or other at the Pentagon said something about liberating some country in the Middle East and caught hell for it from the media. But some two-bit gang leader gets press coverage that makes him look like George Washington. Go figure.
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