Monday, March 1, 2004
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Haiti and drugs
Patrick Belton at OxBlog has been following the Haiti situation, so go check out his posts (here's his latest).
Yesterday the Chicago Tribune had a front-page story illustrating the difficulty of dealing with either the government or the rebels on this issue. The highlights:
Read the whole thing.
Legalize drugs then tax them sufficiently that consumption doesn't rise and...eh, voila...lots of problems disappear...and enough income pours into the treasury to pay some bills.posted by: Theodopoulos Pherecydes on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
The United States simply must decriminalize mind altering drugs. That is the only sensible answer. We endanger not only our own citizens but also those nations with weak governments. Haiti probably hasn’t a chance of truly becoming a democratic country until we cease with our nonsense. The Democrats will unlikely ever dare to tackle this issue. It will probably be left to a Republican administration to do a Nixon to China.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Hati has been an independent country for over 200 years, and seems to have been a wreck for all 200 of them.
The question -- why?
Simply saying "poverty" does not cut it. The Dominican Republic, as an example, started from the same beginning point and has evolved into a reasonably stable country.
Also, blaming the United States is a non starter. See also, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, all of which have seen US interventions, and which now seem to be somewhat stable.
I'm curious about the answers. And also am wondering what the US can/should do about it.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“Hati has been an independent country for over 200 years, and seems to have been a wreck for all 200 of them.
The question -- why?”
I lack the knowledge to explain all of the 200 years. However, I will adamantly state why the situation hasn’t improved in the last 20: political correctness. Many liberals feel uncomfortable taking to task black leaders regardless of how evil they are. They also don’t believe we should “impose” our standards of right and wrong. The Clinton Democrats conveniently ignored Aristide’s evil ways. Do you really want to puke your guts out? If so, please read the morally repugnant piece in today’s The New Republic by Adam B. Kushner:
Kushner is literally saying that the United States should have been indifferent concerning the tyrannical behavior of Aristide. We supposedly were sending a message to other potential thugs in that part of the world to respect democratic institutions. I concede that he has half a point here---but I’m also convinced that we needn’t have supported the evil Aristide to get our point across.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
I don't buy your logic. The alternatives for Clinton without Aristide were (i) do nothing or (ii) impose somebody else. Any somebody else would have had a clear legitimacy problem, as Aristide was the only democraticly elected official. And, as is noted in your TNR link, Clinton had reasons to act other than an excess of PC sensitivity and desire to please the Black Caucus.
But beyond that point, what is the systemic problem with Hati? America has supported some pretty disgusting people in many places in Latin America over the years. (Remember Somoza in Nicaragua?) These countries have survived these creeps, and have moved forward. Hati has not. At some point, you figure something is wrong with the society and/or the culture, because no other reason is available. The question, then, is WHAT!?
My guess is that, until we figure out the problem, there never will be a solution. And Afghanistan has taught us the hazards of failed states.posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“Any somebody else would have had a clear legitimacy problem, as Aristide was the only democraticly elected official.”
So was Adolph Hitler. Employing your logic, the Roosevelt administration should have sent Americans troops to assist Hitler in the mid 1930s if the German military desired to throw him out of power. We have absolutely no practical nor moral obligation to rescue thugs merely because they were elected. As matter of fact, I strongly encourage everyone to read Adam B. Kushner’s article and substitute Adolph Hitler’s name every time Aristide is mentioned.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“But beyond that point, what is the systemic problem with Hati?”
Haiti has long been a basket case. Many years ago I read Graham Greene’s The Comedians (1966). Sadly, I suspect that a rereading would lead me to believe it was written a month ago! What happened? I simply do not know and remain as confused as you are. The central problem is the abysmal ignorance of the general population. Few of them can do anything other than manual labor. Cynically, this means that investors and just about everybody else could care less if they live or die. One’s motivations are limited to the purely altruistic and not the practical.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
I was aware of the Hitler argument before I typed my message. It's just not quite accurate. The enabling act that allowed Hitler to become dictator was passed by the Reichstag only after all the Communists and Socialists in the Reichstag were arrested (and were therefore unable to vote). So Hitler, after March, 1933 could not claim he had obtained his powers though the democratic process. Because he had arrested enough of his enemies to ensure passage of his law.
This puts 1933 Hitler in about the same spot as 2004 Aristide. Yes, he was originally installed through a legitimate process. But then an illegitimate process was used to firm up his rule. And that illegitimate act gives the UN and others a basis for intervention.
And David. Does it bother you that it was the decadent and perfidious French who got the international ball rolling on Aristide?posted by: Appalled Moderate on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
The decadent and perfidious French created Haiti.posted by: Richard A. Heddleson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“So Hitler, after March, 1933 could not claim he had obtained his powers though the democratic process”
That’s all right, I will settle for the period before March, 1933. He had already gone into sufficient detail concerning his plans for the world in Mein Kampf. The world should have put enormous pressure Hitler as soon as he got elected. Common sense dictated that he would turn dictatorial. This did not come to any surprise for those with a lick of sense. I believe in the doctrine of preemption. The Roosevelt administration should have remained silent if the German military had ousted Hitler from his democratically elected office.
“Does it bother you that it was the decadent and perfidious French who got the international ball rolling on Aristide?”
Even the French do something right once in awhile. They still have troops in Afghanistan. France is a morally challenged nation embittered that it is now a third rate power. Also, Haiti is a low risk opportunity to flex one’s muscles. The likelihood of military deaths is extremely small.
It will be very interesting find out how much the French cooperated with Saddam Hussein. Why is Roger Simon about the only one making a big deal about this matter? Where are the NY Times and Washington Post when you really need them? Oh, I forgot. They only have time to run articles that might destroy the presidency of George W. Bush.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
It looks, AM, as if there is indeed something wrong with both Haitian society and culture. I think it has mostly to do with Haiti becoming independent when it did, which threw the whole responsibility for running the country on a very small literate elite ruling a mass of very poor, uneducated people. The pattern has persisted ever since, and Haiti is far from the only country with this problem.
As to what can be done about it, it looks to me that the only approach with a chance of success involves imposing from the outside the institutions and customs Haiti requires to evolve into something like a normal country. In short, forget about other than nominal independence for the next ten years or so. On the other hand, while the United States would like for Haiti to develop our resources are stretched pretty thin at the moment, and the one thing we need from Haiti is for Haitians to stay there instead of crashing Florida's beaches. Now that the Bush administration has discovered it needs a policy for Haiti that is what I expect its objective will be.
I also have to say I do not see the point of dragging Adolf Hitler into every discussion, and certainly not this one.posted by: Zathras on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“I also have to say I do not see the point of dragging Adolf Hitler into every discussion, and certainly not this one. “
The democratically elected Adolph Hitler is very relevant to this discussion. The Clinton administration had more than adequate evidence in 1994 that Aristide was nothing more than a minor league Hitler. Read the following:
“"He was using the Holy sacrifice of the Mass as a vehicle for violence. At the Offertory of the mass, for instance, he would have his followers come up and ‘offer’ their machetes, lay their machetes on the altar. Then he would name the enemies who were to be killed and send his people out with their machetes and ‘necklaces’ to kill them."
---Father Edward Cappelletti, director of the Salesian Missions
I’m just fed up with this silliness that America is suppose to back a thug merely because he got elected. We have no moral obligation whatsoever. It would be true in the case of Adolph Hitler---and also regarding the evil Aristide.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“Haiti probably hasn’t a chance of truly becoming a democratic country until we cease with our nonsense. The Democrats will unlikely ever dare to tackle this issue. It will probably be left to a Republican administration to do a Nixon to China.”
I am truly amazed. It seems that you must live in a digital world. All political, artistic, ethical, religious, economic and [fill in the blank] decisions go through some sort of weird Manichean polarized prism such that EVERYTHING is black/white, yes/no, on/off, good/bad, yin/yang, left/right, liberal/conservative, democrat/republican. Remember how distorting black and white motion pictures like Woody Allen’s Interiors and Schindler’s List were? Remember how liberating it was to arrive in OZ ? We aren’t in Kansas ALL THE TIME.
It seems to me that reality is so complex that most of the time an analog view is closer to the truth. Go to any paint store. The shades of gray alone have three digits, and the colors number in the thousands.
The situation in Haiti strikes me as far more complex than a simplistic blaming of the liberal intelligentsia’s affection for political correctness. Zathras is probably correct – it will probably be necessary to impose institutions from the outside. I hope that this includes investment in education, or this problem will probably recur 10 years hence. Even if we have no “… moral obligation whatsoever”, isn’t it in our interest to help Haiti develop a stable society that doesn’t constantly generate refugees?
This leads me to the David Thompson corollary to Occkam’s Razor:
“When a question needs answering, the simplest explanation which covers all the data is the preferable one, IF
a) the data is limited to questions that can be answered yes or no
b) the simplest explanation rejects all data contrary to a thesis that it’s the democratic party/liberal intelligentsia’s fault.”
PS Your last post could also raise questions about the applicability of Godwin’s law, but no matter.
"He was using the Holy sacrifice of the Mass as a vehicle for violence. At the Offertory of the mass, for instance, he would have his followers come up and ‘offer’ their machetes, lay their machetes on the altar. Then he would name the enemies who were to be killed and send his people out with their machetes and ‘necklaces’ to kill them."
That's straight misrepresentation. Here is what CNN says:
"Students told the Salesians that Aristide had asked them to lay their machetes on the altar and to name their enemies, according to the Rev. Edward Cappelletti, who was in charge of the mission office in New Rochelle, New York, which helped the mission in Haiti."
Now if I say "lay down your arms and name your enemies", it can be interpreted in many ways.
1) At best, "Leave your weapon and forgive your enemy" (it is a Church, remember ?)
2) At worst, "I'll bless your weapon to strike down your chosen enemy".
But the quote clearly refutes the contention that Aristide ordered hits during the mass.posted by: ch2 on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
“The situation in Haiti strikes me as far more complex than a simplistic blaming of the liberal intelligentsia’s affection for political correctness.”
Oh really, I guess you have yet to turn on the TV and listen to the Democrat Black caucus hinting, if not even accusing, the Bush administration of wrong doing concerning the Aristide mess. The evidence concerning his monstrous behavior has been readily obvious for years. Yet, we have the Black caucus still advocating on his behalf. This is truly an outrage. And something is wrong with your moral compass if you fail to comprehend the obvious.
As for the Manichean charge, nothing could be further from the truth. I have no problem whatsoever with the fact, for instance, that the Roosevelt administration had to shake hands with the devil regarding Joseph Stalin. Our national self interest, and perhaps even very survival, depended on this viable relationship. The scum bag Aristide did not place the Clinton people in such an awkward predicament. No, Bill Clinton merely wanted to appear politically correct.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
I should have added something else to previous post concerning Franklin D. Roosevelt: he saved civilization. It was the idiots within the Republican Party who endangered our nation. I hold the Republican Party of the era inadvertently responsible for the rise of Nazism. Their “America First” isolationism resulted in the deaths of perhaps millions of people. Today, the exact opposite is the reality. The Democrats are now the childishly immature jerks who cannot be trusted with our safety. Wow, how times have changed.posted by: David Thomson on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Haiti really needs to examined with respect to property rights -- who owns the land, and can it be sold.
What poor Haitians need is: small gov't, mostly leaving them alone (instead of requiring bribes),
The trouble is, I don't believe for a minute that Haiti could keep a small unobtrusive government, nor would the development aid be well-spent. Perhaps if this sort of solution were imposed from the outside for a generation or two it might be fruitful, but I have supreme confidence that left on its own, the situation would rapidly devolve into another Aristide/government-by-terror thugocracy.
Again, this brings us back to culture - why couldn't the Haitians live with these things (the things that Tom mentioned as solutions)? I don't know.posted by: Bruce Cleaver on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
"Culture" seems simplistic, but hints at the problem. However, I'm troubled by the following question: "Name a country populated and run by people of black African origin that isn't a complete basket case?".posted by: tom ganso on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Tom, how about Botswana?
As for Haiti, yes, it's culture. It's superstition and voodoo. It's 200 years (!) of independence with little moral grounding.
Maybe the Haitian diaspora can help. Maybe not. But there's not much that America can do.posted by: old maltese on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Two problems Haiti had from the get-go: (a) France demanded an enormous sum of money from the country, as compensation for property lost, before it would recognize Haiti after its revolution, and other countries followed France's lead; and (b) the United States would not recognize or trade with Haiti because Southern slave-owners were afraid that US slaves would be encouraged to follow the Haitans' example. (Had ADams beaten Jefferson in the presidential election, this might well have gone differently.) To read: CLR James, "The Black Jacobins" (full of doctrinaire Marxism but still a good book), and Ian Thompson's "Bonjour, Blanc." Nor did the American occupation in the '30s help. Even when one knows how Haiti has been sinned against in the past, however, that doesn't tell us what should be done today. An excellent novel about the Haitian revoluation: Madison Smart Bell's contemporary trilogy (3rd volume not out yet).posted by: adoherty on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Schools, schools, schools.
Schools, schools, schools.
Now my contention is that It will have to be run as a protectorate for 30 years followed by gradual independance for another 20.
No one wants the costs for so little potential reward. Especially with a war on.
My prediction: 20 more years of more of the same.posted by: M. Simon on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Tom Ganso says:
"Culture" seems simplistic, but hints at the problem. However, I'm troubled by the following question: "Name a country populated and run by people of black African origin that isn't a complete basket case?".
I tend to agree, Tom; My own reaction was to step away from this as fast as one would step away from someone on an Israeli bus yelling "ALLAH IS GREAT!"
Yet, in seriously thinking on the question, I must confess that I can't think of any examples within the criteria. That you didn't make mention of any answers either suggests there may be more value to this question that many would like to admit.
Perhaps pointing this up isn't the racist statement it seems on the surface?posted by: Bithead on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Yes it is. It imposes a Western/Protestant/Capitalist value system on a society that doesnt share these values.
Go read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.posted by: TexasToast on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Yes it is. It imposes a Western/Protestant/Capitalist value system on a society that doesnt share these values.
Well, let's see.
Can anyone in this group come up with an answer for the question posed...
"Name a country populated and run by people of black African origin that isn't a complete basket case?"
I see nothing about cultural values placed in that question.
I suppose one *could* claim that there's a cultural definition of 'basket case', and that therefore anyone making such a judgement was trying to impose their own values...but to convince me of this, I think you're going to have to convince me that there's a culture that considers what's going down in Haiti just now, and for the last 10 decades or so, desireable.
Perhaps you can name such a culture for us?posted by: Bithead on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Texas Toast said:
"Yes it is. It imposes a Western/Protestant/Capitalist value system on a society that doesnt share these values.
Go read The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver."
What value system does it espouse? And do you think it is obtaining those values for its citizens? Are they getting what they want? Is this what you think they deserve? How sad, if so.
P.S. I have read 'Poisonwood'. BFD.posted by: tom ganso on 03.01.04 at 12:30 PM [permalink]
Ah, yes... The isolationists matra, with more than a touch of anti-religious fervor tossed in just to make it appealing to social leftists. I didn't read the whole story, but based on what I did read.... my reaction was "What utter *v!!$#!+!"
I no longer own it.
That you speak of this novel in this context tells me a lot about you. But since you referenced it, let's examine how we might apply it's story lines in the context of this thread, shall we?
For example, I notice nobody seems overly concerned about the cultural changes imposed on the Baptist preacher and his family, and my extension, his home country and culture. No, the outcry is focused on culture of the people in the Congo, and THEIR culture.
It appears to me your concern for the Hatians is similarly one-sided. Is our culture our values, worth less than theirs, in your view?
So what are we to take from this, within the Nonsensical "Poisonwood" concept, as proposed?
That we shouldn't be involved in Haiti because there are consequences to taking action? That in the words of one, we shouldn't be imposing our cultural POV?
Well, let's see where this non-thinking takes us.
What of child labor, as practiced elsewhere?
What of 'honor killings' and female mutilation as practiced in the Arab world, because it;s another POV and we should respect it simply because it exists?
At what point does this start breaking down, for you, I wonder?
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