Thursday, February 26, 2004

No terrorism in Haiti, right?

Any Democrat presidential candidate worthy of my support will immediately be denouncing from the rooftops the recent US chess moves in Haiti. How is this not terrorism? Heavily armed bands pounce on defenseless city populations and attack the police stations. Thuggish, shadowy, unaccountable actors announce that they will topple the duly elected democratic government.

I’ll make a deal with the Bushsters: you get me footage, within 24 hours of the summation of this “war,” of a falling statue of President Aristide in Port au Prince. Then I’ll have to admit this is not actually a victory for Bush’s preferred face of terrorism, but rather a glorious liberation of the Haitian people from evil. Somehow I think that statute will be hard to find, given that Aristide is a normally elected president with just two years until his term ends and he leaves office for good.

How is this not terrorism? To at least show some legitimacy for the project of ousting Aristide, I’d like somebody to explain to me specifically what laws he has broken, how the constitution has been violated, or even what norms recognized in international law he might have contravened, making him unfit for office. I know a few things about the flaws of Aristide, but I’ve never yet seen legal specifics of his apparently assumed illegitimacy addressed in the mainstream American media.

This is terrorism, yet with it, the US and France have finally found something to agree upon: Haitian democracy is not worth defending.

To Haiti, France has 400-plus years of villainy to answer for. But the transgressions of the US are immediate, and should obviously be condemned right now by the leading Democrat in such devastating terms that Bush cannot defend himself. The leading Democrat should going in for the kill now, attempting to turn this into Bush’s policy-hypocrisy Waterloo.

Aristide is a broken figure. Once he was a man who raised a hopeful grassroots democratic ferment in Haiti, on the back of which he was legitimately elected by a landslide. But he was a decade ago illegally ejected from the presidency by thuggish armed forces. He was only returned to office after his will was broken during exile in the US. Aristide re-entered the presidency (he was duly elected again by the people) willing to sign Haiti up for a new round of economically catastrophic debt deals with the global financiers from the G-7 and its arm, the IMF – something he never would have done before. The economy has since grown more dismal than ever. Lacking an army, he brought with him new methods of repressing people with paramilitary gangs. He learned a few things during his exile in the US, corruption among them, but one thing he didn’t learn was how to be lovable.

So with his support withered, perhaps now’s a better time to make a move than later, when the people get closer to the next election and begin to envision the possibility of a peaceful electoral transfer of power to somebody unknown, somebody who might do things differently, might not accept the IMF’s terms. So it’s time to pull the plug. Too bad for Jean-Bertrand Aristide – now he’s become another of the US’s presidential-assets-gone-bad – another in the line of ex-presidents – Noriega, Saddam...

Could it be that Bush is sending a signal flare in February that will land in President Hugo Chavez’s oil-rich Venezuela by, oh, say September? Or maybe December? Maybe that’s crazy – but we’re certainly sending “hate me” messages to the world outside again.

Where’s my Democrat, the guy who forcefully pulls the rug out from under such naked duplicitousness?