Haiti is a poster child for one of Donald Trump’s “sh*t hole” countries. Here’s a description in the Miami Herald that illustrates the point.
Kidnappings are rampant, averaging one every six hours last year, while killings are up, with 2,200 homicides in 2022, a dramatic increase over the previous year. The size of Haiti’s national police force is less than half of what it needs to be. Corruption and collusion with gangs are serious problems. Morale is low and so is the pay.
Last year, during a training exercise, officers didn’t even have bullets for target practice. And rampaging gangs made last month the deadliest for Haitian cops in recent memory, killing 14 officers.
According to The Grid, 60% of Port-au-Prince is controlled by criminal gangs. There have been “skyrocketing rates of murder and sexual assault; catastrophic levels of hunger; and a fast-spreading cholera epidemic,” says The Grid. If that’s not a “sh*t hole” country, I don’t know what is.
Prime Minister Ariel Henry has repeatedly called in recent months for Haiti’s international partners to deploy a “specialized armed force” to restore order. What a wonderful idea! Would this be like a “democracy-building exercise”? The U.S. has a lot of experience with doing that. Unfortunately, it never worked.
Maybe we could bring in a “peacekeeping force”? That’s worked really well in the Congo, Lebanon, and other “sh*t hole” countries — at least, for the peacekeepers. “Blue Helmets” managed to rape their way across Africa without much effort.
Now there’s a UN resolution sponsored by the U.S. on the table that would create a “specialized force” to bring peace and order to Haiti — or at least what used to pass for peace and order. The United States wanted Canada to lead it. Yes, Canada. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needn’t get nervous. Russia and China are just waiting for an opportunity to veto a multinational force in the Security Council.
So everyone agrees that Haiti desperately needs a military force to invade and restore order. The problem is that no one wants to lead it. Worse, no nation wants to supply troops for such an effort.
This is where the United States usually weighs in and agrees to send in the Marines. They’ve done it before. From 1914-30, the U.S. occupied Haiti to “restore order” and “maintain political and economic stability.” Haiti was no more of a mess then than it is now, but imperialism was cool at the time and the U.S. succumbed to the temptation to throw its weight around in its own backyard.
And there have been several other interventions, including in 1994 when an international force with American help overthrew the military junta that had taken power in 1991. In truth, Haiti was no more of a mess then than it is now, but imperialism was cool at the time and the U.S. succumbed to the temptation to throw its weight around in its own backyard.
So whoever wants to win the booby prize and lead an international rescue mission to Haiti, please stand up.
At a recent State Department press conference, Grid asked deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel whether the U.S. had made any progress on finding a government willing to take part in an intervention. He replied that “the conversation continues to be ongoing with our allies and partners and other countries. I’m not going to get ahead of those ongoing discussions, but at the United Nations and across the U.S. government, negotiations continue with partners and other council members to set defined and specific parameters for a mission and find the most effective means to support, enable and resource it.”
Despite the lack of recent progress, several experts and policymakers who spoke with Grid expect some sort of international mission to be announced in the coming months.
This is one of those instances where if the United States of America didn’t exist, the world would be forced to invent it. And America will do it because that’s what we do; we respond to crises. The U.S. may not be visibly in the lead of a multinational force. But it will be our money and probably most of our equipment and arms that end up in the hands of the soldiers who will be asked to restore order to a nation that’s never known it.
It will be our aid workers running the show on the ground, too. Biden is too smart — we hope — to send any American troops into this potential meat grinder. But you can bet there will be a few companies of Marines deployed on ships offshore that will be standing by in case they’re needed.
There are 200 political parties and probably as many gangs in Port-au-Prince. Maybe the Romans or the Huns could restore order in Haiti but I sincerely doubt an international force outfitted in robin’s egg blue helmets will intimidate anyone.
Haiti needs to be placed under UN trusteeship. Let the internationalists do something useful for once. Not that they’ll do a better job than the United States, but at least they won’t be whining about how badly we’re running things.