Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Deluded People Talk About Haiti

I'm still reading Stein and Lang's The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar. It's taken me awhile because, .... well, I'll put it this way; I couldn't finish this book on Chartism because it started to get too depressing. With The Unexpected War, I can only take so much on the actions and subsequent reflections of people like John Manley, Paul Martin and Rick Hillier, before I get bored and sleepy.

Here's the thing though: It might just be mainstream Canadian scholar/pundits Stein and Lang's take on it that's influencing me, or it might just be me acknowledging a simple reality that those people in the book have a fair bit of brain-power, when all is said and done. But I still call their policies cretinous because, when all is said and done, they are cretinous. It's like a math question. If you make a mistake somewhere in the equation, your answer comes out wrong, and depending where you made your mistake, your answer could come out very wide off the mark. With the geniuses during the Chretien-Martin years, the mistake was thinking that the USA was justified in going on a global rampage after their own imperialist policies, blundering and incompetence led to the 9-11 terrorist attack. The next mistake was sending Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan to help the US-Americans, with "help the Americans" meaning "fight, kill and die to prop-up an unpopular, corrupt, rapist, warlord, narco-pedophile government on the people of Afghanistan."

But there's an earlier example of stupidity between these supposedly smart people that rankled me even more. On pages 179-181, the new Paul Martin government is looking around for where it can make a big splash in the world other than Afghanistan, which Martin saw as a leftover from the Chretien government. Darfur and Haiti are two possibilities. Of Haiti, the Department of National Defence (DND) says that it's a mess and it will always be a mess and there's nothing we can do. At one point, Foreign Minister (later Defence Minister) Paul Graham remembers Colin Powell telling him:

That the only way to help Haiti was to make it a protectorate and send in tens of thousands of US marines to secure the country indefinitely. Powell admitted there was no appetite for that kind of strategy either in the international community or in Washington.

Oh yeah; Because occupying Haiti with the marines turned out so well the last time:
The atrocities of the idealistic mission, including aerial bombing of a Haitian city, finally reached home, eliciting public protest. A 1927 study of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom recounted such U.S. atrocities as burning men and women alive, summary execution of children, beating and torturing, machine-gunning of civilians, daily shooting of cattle and burning of crops, houses, mills, and so on. It came to be understood that atrocities are best left to local clients, as other imperial powers had long realized. Washington proceeded to create an army that "may have ended forever the possibility of an agrarian revolt against the central authority," anthropologist Sidney Mintz observes, much as it did in the Dominican Republic next door at the same time, and in much the same way. Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot describes the establishment of "an army to fight the people" as the worst of the legacies of the occupation, which "left the country with two poisoned gifts: a weaker civil society and a solidified state apparatus." Current plans simply continue the process, which has its counterparts through Latin America, and is firmly founded in explicit doctrine.
The fact of the matter is that Haiti was run by murderous, kleptocratic governments for decades, and as long as they were compliant with US orders and anti-communist, it didn't matter. Then, when they elected a non-corrupt, Haitian nationalist who pledged social justice (Bertrand Aristide), they deposed him. Then, when he returned to power, they orchestrated a bullshit political crisis, cut off all foreign aid to the country and financed a rebellion against him before kidnapping him (with Canadian assistance) and sending him off into exile.

This abomination (happened during the Chretien years) was ostensibly done under the imperialistic "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine, which states that when a poor, weak country's government gets out of line, the imperialist powers have a right to topple it, supposedly to make things better for that country's people.

So we exiled Aristide for the good of the Haitian people, and gave them a government so bad that at one point the poorest Haitians were reduced to eating dirt to fill their bellies and which was later reviled for its corruption and incapacity in the face of the 2010 earthquake.

It's this level of ignorance and delusion amongst our foreign policy elites that they causes them speak so stupidly together about places like Haiti and Afghanistan.

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