The Haitian poker game broke up at the eleventh hour last night. The game was called with the U.S. holding a full house. The spoils weren’t distributed. At this point no one really knows how much was at stake, only one thing is sure. We’re responsible for whatever was on that table; and we will be for months, or even years to come.
The immediate winners were the U.S. paratroopers who were on their way to the island of Hispaniola to lead the invasion, and the Democrats in the United States Congress. The men from the 82nd Airborne are back in the barracks, and a showdown on Capitol Hill will be replaced by long hours of political posturing for the Congressional Record.
In the next few days and weeks we will see boat-loads of goodies being distributed to the Haitian people; and they are needed, desperately needed, but it should have come a long time ago.
There will be an attempt to present President Clinton as tough and resolute in this matter. The facts tell a different story: last Thursday night he told us we were going to invade because there were no other options. On Friday he dispatched Mr. Carter, Senator Nunn, and General Powell to negotiate a peaceful solution.
On Thursday we were told that the Haitian military leaders must leave immediately. On Sunday we were told that they will preside over the military when our troops come ashore to help keep the peace. In fact, there is no guarantee that the Haitian military leaders will leave the country at all. We are told only that they will step down after the Haitian Parliament passes a new law granting them and their followers amnesty; and that they will have no other option. But, why would the present military leaders have to leave if they are granted amnesty? After all, this is their home. They have their supporters and there are supposed to be other elections. Could it be that we cannot guarantee their safety? If we cannot guarantee their safety how can we guarantee the safety of the 7700 people presently in the military, or the Haitian parliament, or any of those who opposed Aristide?
If we could not control Aristide, and get him to agree to share power at Governor’s Island in New York how can we control him and get him to work with the Haitian parliament once he surrounded by his supporters on his own turf. And what happens if there are more human rights violations against Aristide’s opponents? What then? Do we remove him; and if so, on what grounds? After all, he was democratically elected!
No, the game is not over. It was suspended, and Mr. Clinton may have escaped from one corner only to find he has backed into another.