...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Monday, March 01, 2004
      ( 1:04 PM )
Coup Central

So here we are in Haiti again. Last time Aristide escaped and we put him back. This time, it's looking like we kidnapped him out of the country. I recall yesterday, as I watched the President's wandering, jumbled comments as he arrived from Camp David that Haiti was following the constitutional process and everything was fine, but then hearing Aristide's lawyer interviewed and saying that they didn't know where he was and he'd been out of communication with his family, I thought, "Hmmm, something isn't right here." Evidently, something wasn't right.

Aristide has claimed he was kidnapped while our government insists he signed a resignation and left of his own accord. Now, Aristide isn't exactly a shining example of a democratic leader. But then again, neither is George Bush. Here is how it stands currently:

The kidnapping accusation also was reported
Monday by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, and
Aristide's attorney, Ira Kurzman. Waters said she
had spoken with Aristide by phone and he had
told her a story similar to Robinson's.

Waters said that Aristide also had told his story
to Rep. Charles Rangle, D-New York.

"What you need to ask is this: Would [Aristide] call
three different people -- two members of the
United States Congress and tell us that he has been
kidnapped -- that a coup d'?tat has taken place --
unless he believed that?" Waters said. "And do
you think we would make this information up?"

Actually, yes, he could have made it up. And why not - he doesn't have anyone on his side this time. Unfortunately, the issue isn't whether he was taken against his will or not. The international community, led by the US who installed Aristide the last time around, should have seen this coming four weeks ago. Instead, Bush issued proclamations saying that all refugees would be turned back and delegations were dispatched to try and "negotiate." Last time, we made a huge deal about Aristide being the "democratically elected leader" and that's why we forcefully re-installed him in office.

But this time we allowed the riots to go on and eventually assisted in his fleeing the country. He was a terrible leader, and he did no good for Haitians. But he WAS democratically elected. So we have now shown once again that we have no qualms about assisting in the overthrow of a country's leader, just because we don't like him. If we were consistent, we would have supported Aristide once again and then perhaps actually invested in the country of Haiti and urged Aristide to step down when there was more calm. But we allowed the riots to grow and gain power, and we gave legitimacy to the rebel leaders, thus making it obvious that we had no intention of supporting an elected government against mob action.

I am in no way justifying Aristide's leadership. What I'm saying is that we are crude hypocrites. We left Haiti to shrivel up and die after the last time we occupied it, and we only encouraged its most recent destruction. It's the same with Africa. We allow the most horrible violence, destruction and cruelty to continue unabated because we simply have no economic interest in saving human lives in the Congo or the Sudan. What good are they to us? Let them be brutalized and extinguished. We have treated Haiti the same.

The US has not only squandered its good will around the world, but it has squandered its riches. We have spent money on weapons and destruction, on lies and the acquisition of false power. We have let our own citizens go hungry and un-cared for, and those even worse off in other countries we have ignored, betrayed and cast off. Our actions will not go unanswered, I am sure of it. Though I do believe this country has done some good, I cannot find many examples where the good was not simply a by-product of acting in our own best economic interests. The question is how much will it take before American citizens wake up to the reality of our own crass treatment of humanity. I know it's unrealistic to believe that we could ever become an altruistic country that cares more for the state of humankind than for the lining of a few people's pockets. But I can't help hoping.

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