Jimmy Carter’s Role in Haiti
The criticism of former President Jimmy Carter’s diplomacy is an implicit criticism of his effort to practice Christian teaching such as the precepts expressed in the Sermon on the Mount. Carter, as did Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., tried to break through the thuggish limits of Realpolitik by reaching out to the latent humanity of other human beings however demonized and to evoke some minimal honor and will to cooperate.
We have a national government filled with those schooled in the political rationales of self-interest and an American public psychologically isolated from the cares, struggles, opportunities and amazing resilience of the rest of the human race. It is helpful that some of our soldiers had to see for themselves the brutality that the Haitian people have endured for decades.
Whatever the secondary points for debate about Carter’s diplomacy, he should be respected and commended for his intellectual and moral commitment to practice the religious teachings he studies.
* I am appalled by the repeated denouncing of amnesty for the Haitian generals. If democracy is ever to be installed in Haiti, the cycle of revenge must be stopped sometime. At one time or another, someone must forgo the temptation to exact blood for blood. This point seems to have been missed by the American liberals slavering for the blood of those whom they despise.
* Of course we don’t like Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and his gang, but they do represent the power structure. Any realistic solution involves all Haitians, not just the ones we approve of.
A willingness to dialogue with the opposition could lead to an equitable solution that would never happen if we decided to “kick ass” as we usually do.
RALPH E. CRAMER
* In November of 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide won an overwhelming 67% of the Haitian votes. While the people rejoiced the victory, the U.S. State Department frowned at it in displeasure. When Aristide embarked on two bold projects, to improve the economy and to reform the balance between the military/police and civilian sectors, Washington promptly put in high gear its always “at ready” machinery to undermine the road to independence and prosperity planned for Haitians by Aristide.
Under Aristide’s democratic reforms, “the Golden Fleece"--the cheap labor in the impoverished island, about 25 cents per hour--would slip away, along with profits of tourism services for U.S. markets. All the benefits the U.S. businesses reaped in Haiti for decades of Duvalier family dictatorship would have been history had Aristide remained in power.
So, an Aristide-reformist became a threat to the U.S. businesses and for national security reasons was earmarked for removal from the office.
After years in exile, probably a new and more compliant and “understanding” Aristide is on the way home. The military oppressors in Haiti, trained, armed and funded by the U.S., are cooperative now as they were in carrying out the coup that ousted the original Aristide. Let us pray for those wretched but proud people in Haiti to survive the second occupation in this century by “the only superpower in the world.”
* Is there some law against giving President Clinton credit for anything? One day after watching television scenes of delirious Haitians welcoming American troops, I pick up the Opinion section (Sept. 25) and read nothing but gloom and doom about Clinton’s actions. Has it escaped the attention of these peerless pundits that the democratically elected president of Haiti is being restored to power without a shot being fired?
JAMES A. AMATO
* Thank you for my Sunday laugh. In the column headed “How Did We Ever Get Into the Haiti Mess? We Had Better Find Out--Fast” (Opinion, Sept. 25), Henry Kissinger finds the motivation Clinton may have had for sending troops to Haiti while still negotiating with its leaders shocking. Rushing troops to “land before Congress could pass a resolution of disapproval . . . marked an astonishing disintegration of the executive-congressional relationship,” breathes Kissinger. This from the man who secretly bombed Cambodia without telling anyone but Nixon and the bombers. Talk about an astonishing disintegration. Talk about chutzpah.
* Headlines--Sept. 24: “U.S. Seeks Deals With Pro-Junta Haitian Elite” (in which U.S. will rent, from wealthy families, land to build gasoline tanks and other elements of infrastructure and when we leave give the improvements to the wealthy for free!); Sept. 26: “Wealthy Haitians See Chance for Profit in U.S. Occupation.” Is this the purpose of our army in Haiti? To protect and enhance those families to whom the Haitian army devotes its allegiance? The same procedure has taken place in Panama with little, if any, benefit to the progress of democracy.
My suggestion is to make the wealthy families of Haiti pay for the rebuilding of the infrastructure and democracy in Haiti.
A. G. LUBOFF