Haiti

Don't Ask U.S. Troops To Solve Haiti's Problems

It’s unclear what a military intervention could even accomplish.

|

The recent assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in his Port-au-Prince home has plunged the nation, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, into another phase of violence and instability. The Haitian government, not particularly effective on a normal day, is begging for international assistance to keep the country in some degree of calm and order during a tenuous transitional period. Interim President Claude Joseph has gone so far as to request a provisional U.S. military deployment to guard Haiti's key infrastructure, a proposal the Haitian people don't support.

Outside of buttressing a U.S. Marine detail to protect the U.S. Embassy, the Biden administration is wary, if not outright opposed, to Haiti's request for a U.S. troop deployment. While the prospect of thousands of Haitians fleeing to the United States can't be ruled out if the situation further deteriorates, President Joe Biden is right to reject the Haitian government's request. The last thing Washington needs is yet another ill-advised, reactive military intervention in a de facto failed state—particularly at a time when the White House appears intent on extricating U.S. forces from wars that have cost too much, have gone on for too long, and have had next to no return.

Even before Moïse's late-night assassination, Haiti was in the midst of extreme political and economic turmoil. The nation of 12 million people has been without a functioning parliament for a year and a half. Due to the absence of a legislature, the entire government has operated by decree. Approximately 30 gangs control a large area of Port-au-Prince; thousands of Haitians have fled their neighborhoods from intergang violence. René Sylvestre, the head of Haiti's Supreme Court, passed away from COVID-19, a virus that is ravaging the broader population.

Moïse's killing has taken this dire situation and turned it into a catastrophe. Today, there are three separate Haitian politicians claiming to be Moïse's successor, a political contest for power bearing the markings of a serious confrontation. One of Haiti's powerful gang bosses is readying his own troops for action, claiming the assassination was a large foreign-orchestrated conspiracy against the Haitian population. The police, corrupt and riven by schisms, aren't exactly in a position to quell any violence that may erupt.

The U.S. military, however, isn't in a position to do so either. In fact, it's questionable whether foreign troops in any capacity would have the resources, patience, and fortitude to save Haitians from the depravity of their own politicians. There was a time not so long ago when United Nations peacekeepers were authorized to return democracy to the island during yet another fractious period in its history—the forced exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That U.N.-authorized peacekeeping mission would last for more than 15 years, and the result was anything but the peace, democracy, and stability Washington and its partners on the Security Council hoped to accomplish. Instead, Haiti's problems arguably multiplied. The mission was not only implicated in human rights abuses, but brought a deadly cholera epidemic to the country which killed upward of 10,000 people.

The U.S. military has some experience in Haiti as well. In 1994, 25,000 U.S. troops were sent to the island in a mission code-named Operation Uphold Democracy, a deployment designed to restore the democratically elected government to power after being ousted in a military coup three years earlier. While the mission succeeded in ridding the military junta from the capital and negotiating the exile of the coup's architect (Lt. Gen. Raoul Cédras), one can hardly call it a long-term success given Haiti's current circumstances.

The bottom line is clear: While the U.S. military is still very much the best fighting force on the planet, it hasn't proven to be especially competent in building democracies from the ground up in other countries. However, this shouldn't be a surprise. The U.S. military is not organized to play the role of a global force of do-gooders dispatched to the world's trouble spots, holding the line until the local authorities find a way to work through their internal conflicts—or worse, until the U.S. military itself comes up with a solution. To task U.S. troops with political missions is to saddle them with responsibilities they can't reasonably be expected to meet, all the while providing the host government with the cover to continue business as usual. Whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Haiti, deployments like these create more problems than they solve, shift the ultimate responsibility for fixing them onto the backs of U.S. soldiers, and can easily expand from months to years.

To its credit, the Biden administration appears unenthused with the idea of turning U.S. forces into security guards for Haiti's infrastructure. The most the White House is likely to give the Haitian government is support for the Moïse murder investigation. U.S. officials from the Department of Justice and Homeland Security are already in Port-au-Prince assisting the Haitian National Police. To the extent U.S. federal law enforcement has something to offer in this investigation, Washington should lend its expertise.

Anything more, though, would be a dangerous slide into another long-term U.S. overseas deployment with marginal benefits. Let Haiti serve as a lesson for Washington writ large: the U.S. military is designed to defend the United States of America, not right every wrong in the world.

NEXT: Judge Says 'Fuck Biden' Signs Are Obscenity and Orders Their Removal

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “It’s unclear what a military intervention could even accomplish.”
    A new, pure blue state comes to mind – – – – – –

  2. “The mission was not only implicated in human rights abuses, but brought a deadly cholera epidemic to the country which killed upward of 10,000 people.”

    Feature?

    1. Judging from that story in The New York Post, “The Bed Intruder Song” should be the Anthem of the United Nations “Peacekeeping Force.”

  3. The Koch / Reason libertarian answer is to invite the entire population of Haiti to immigrate to the US.

    #OpenBordersWillFixEverything

    1. Haiti is roughly the size of Vermont, and Vermont also happens to be the second least populated state.

      Sounds like a plan to me.

  4. It’s unclear what a military intervention could even accomplish.

    We’re pulling our troops out of Afghanistan, we gotta give them somewhere to go. The CIA and the FBI need protection in Haiti, it’s a win/win situation.

  5. “…the poorest in the Western Hemisphere,”

    Just declare a War on Poverty and send in enough troops to win the battles; that worked for us during Johnson’s admin, right?

    1. Why troops? Just send a monthly check for $1,000 to every person in Haiti.

      1. “The nation of 12 million people”

        Ok, since we’re throwing around a trillion here and a trillion or 2 there on our own boondoggles, why not toss 12 billion to Haiti and see what happens. Exactly $1,000 US to every man, woman, and child.

        What do you suppose would happen?

        1. Hint: most of them would book a one way ticket to Miami, which would make OBL deliriously happy.

        2. 12 million? Island should have capsized by now.

  6. For sure, military intervention (not to mention open borders) would forever eliminate famine, pestilence, destruction, racism and strife while bringing permanent peace, health, harmony, eternal bliss and prosperity to all.

    1. See what I mean [re comment immediately above]?

    2. Hey, it worked for about 70 million Chinese people under Mao and 50 million Soviets under Stalin and you don’t hear any of those people complaining do you?

      1. Pol Pot General, don’t forget Pol Pot.

      2. None of them needed to wait in food lines.

      3. “…you don’t hear any of those people complaining do you?”

        Nor the one out of six people playing Russian Roulette!

  7. can you up-armor against voodoo?

    1. BEWARE THE GROUND UP PUFFER FISH

      Haiti does in fact have a law against making zombies; what you do is administer a drink or some food to a person with the power of this thing in it:

      https://www.environment.sa.gov.au/goodliving/posts/2017/10/pufferfish-zombies

      Then your victim goes into a coma in which breathing is barely detectible; then the quickly bloat up and stink, so are quickly interred. Afterwards the voodoo practitioner digs you up and you are alive but so brain damaged from hypoxia that you are a virtual slave.

      And that is how a real zombie is made.

      1. my ex-wife just went to TCU.

  8. Sending US troops anywhere hasn’t solved anything since about 1945.

  9. “the U.S. military is designed to defend the United States of America”

    What is your proof of this? Or better yet tell me the last time the US military actually defended us from attack.

    1. 1812. And it did a bad job of it for the most part of that war.

    2. Lots of times. Cuban missile crisis, for one. Just the existence of the U.S. military is a deterrent to attack.

      1. So are millions of private gun owners.

    3. Retaking Kiska from the Japanese, August 1943.

    4. The Aroostook War

  10. To the extent U.S. federal law enforcement has something to offer in this investigation, Washington should lend its expertise.

    Methinks we’re not very interested in investigating anything too closely. The assassination team is a bunch of Colombians (many of them former military trained by the US) and the organizers are two Haitian-American DEA informants.

    Pretty clearly this assassination was not about anything domestic in Haiti. And the last thing the US wants is for anything to become transparent about the US puts in narco-states.

  11. I can remember when Papa Doc and Baby Doc ran the place. Also remember the Clintons collecting big bucks through their foundation that seems to have been a total waste in helping Haiti after the earth quake hit.

    Bottom line is as Trump would say ‘a shithole country’ and that won’t change.

    1. But it did help pay for Chelsea’s big fat wedding.

      1. Gotta wonder how much they paid the guy to marry her.

      2. And plastic surgery.

    2. Oh yeah….I remember those two. Rule by voodoo and fear.
      I also remember their secret police the Tonton Macoutes and the awful crimes they committed just to keep their boss in power, and I also remember what happened to many of them after Baby Doc was forced to flee the country.
      Getting necklaced had nothing to do with wearing jewelry.

      1. And never forget that the so-called “Saint” Mother Teresa supported the Duvalliers as “friends” of the poor and sent them money from her charity. The prune-faced sadistic bitch!

  12. The primary concern of the Biden administration is preventing millions of refugees from Haiti (and Cuba) from washing up on the beaches of Florida and/or landing in Mexico to come to Texas. The Biden administration is already overwhelmed with asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and if millions of Cubans and Haitians are added to that, it will be a political disaster for the Biden administration–no matter what they decide to do or not do about it. If and when refugees from Haiti start showing up en masse in the United States, expect a U.S. military intervention to install a new government.

    It should be noted that the U.S. military intervention in 1994 and the 2010 earthquake disaster relief were motivated by the same concerns. The point of both was to keep the Haitians in Haiti. Regardless of whether that should have been the goal, that’s what the Clinton and Obama administrations were doing. Biden is no different. Biden’s and the progressives’ rhetoric about asylum seekers and immigration won’t withstand the reality of millions of Haitian refugees anymore than it did the reality of hundreds of thousands of children from Northern Triangle countries. How embarrassing for progressives!

    1. ” If and when refugees from Haiti start showing up en masse in the United States…”

      They won’t. Not because they won’t try, but because the US will interdict the vast majority and return them to Haiti. Sans whatever transportation that was being employed regardless of ownership.

      All of which will be studiously ignored by the media, including the brave truth tellers hear at Reason.

  13. “Don’t Ask U.S. Troops To Solve Haiti’s Problems”

    Yeah, just for record, the legitimate purpose of government is to protect our rights, and the legitimate purpose of U.S. Troops is to protect our rights from foreign threats.

    Whatever the solutions to Haiti’s political problems are, ultimately they need to come from the Haitians. Otherwise, they’ll just come back over and over and over again.

  14. Okay, look, how many times do I have to tell you idiots, don’t do this kind of shit.

    Yes, it’s true that a bunch of Third World soldiers, who were sent to Haiti so their home countries could collect “peacekeeping” checks from the US and Europe, and who neither understood basic sanitation nor could restrain themselves from committing gang rapes, didn’t bring any stability to Haiti. That says absolutely nothing about what US troops could do, and anybody with an IQ above room temperature knows it. You’re setting up a cardboard target any pro-interventionist can knock down.

    Similarly don’t pretend an intervention in Haiti would be contested by the locals, like Iraq or Afghanistan or Somalia. The Haitians would not engage in a long fanatic guerilla war to drive us out; the big threat to the lives of US troops in Haiti would be traffic accidents like in any other peacetime posting. If the Haitians were going to engage in a long fanatic guerilla war to drive occupiers out, they’d have done that to the above Third World gang-raping cholera-spreaders. Which they didn’t.

    Finally, yes, it’s true that an in-and-out six month visit by US troops in 1994 didn’t bring long-term stability to Haiti. That’s another cardboard target; you’re just inviting the pro-interventionists to suggest a longer occupation.

    Seriously, just point out that we have neither the right nor the responsibility to involve ourselves in Haiti, and leave it at that. That’s the necessary and sufficient argument. Don’t engage in obvious bullshit.

  15. Haiti has been a failed state since independence (225 years). What would lead anyone to believe that this will ever change.

  16. The Koch / Reason libertarian answer is to invite the entire population of Haiti to immigrate to the US.

    #OpenBordersWillFixEverything

  17. Similarly don’t pretend an intervention i

  18. Sending US troops anywhere hasn’t solved anything since about 1945. Mp4moviez2

Please to post comments