Scholars of public policy and political science understand that to enact an unpopular or questionable policy and to gain public support for such a policy, a crisis must occur. This crisis is either man-made or natural.
Haiti, the Eden of the Caribbean, the Pearl of the Antilles, the Liberator of the Americas, the Conquer of Empire, the Abolisher of Slavery and Colonialism, the Avenger of the New World, the Tormentor of Global White Supremacy, has faced many crises, both man-made and natural.
However, whether the crises are man-made or natural, the crises in Haiti seem to be all too familiar: rigged elections, postponed elections, titular heads of state (selected not elected political officials), violence against the masses, rampant disease outbreaks, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. These crises provide a policy rationale for the United States and other Western actors, such as the United Nations, to meddle messily in the affairs of Haiti.
Symbolically, the policy rationale of the United States and other Western actors seems to be diplomatic and humanitarian; yet, substantially, these policies are harmful and ultimately deadly to Haiti and its people.
Historically, since the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the United States has created crises in Haiti to implement its policy of deadly diplomacy and harmful humanitarianism. In the school of international relations, this deadly diplomacy and harmful humanitarianism are often referred to as the Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, gunboat diplomacy, dollar diplomacy and moral diplomacy.
Even though these deadly and harmful policies are attributed to Monroe, Jackson, T. Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson, in reality these policies are different variations of Thomas Jefferson’s Continentalism which is simply U.S. exceptionalism mixed with the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism in addition to Western romantic nationalism and white male jingoism.
Jefferson’s policy of Continentalism came about during the Haitian Revolution. The Haitian Revolution of 1804 not only stopped Napoleon’s dream of an American Empire but also abolished slavery and colonialism while placing a ubiquitous dent in the economy of the European-American world.
Thus, by 1808, it forced the United States and England to outlaw globally the trading of Africans as enslaved captives. Because of the Haitian Revolution, the European-American world felt that it was no longer financially feasible to maintain a global economy based on the Transatlantic slave trade.
The Haitian Revolution created the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere, and it also created a major crisis for the European-American world. In response to such a crisis, Napoleon sold the territory of Louisiana to Jefferson. As such, Jefferson “nudged” his policy of Continentalism to the American public for support.
As Continentalism emerged, the native population of the United States became further displaced and disenfranchised, as the sovereignty of Caribbean nations was threatened. Ultimately, by 1915, the U.S. used the crisis of German encroachment in Haiti, in addition to Haiti’s political unrest, to invade and occupy Haiti.
At that time, the U.S. desperately needed resources to finance its upcoming war against the Central Powers in World War I. The U.S. found the resources in Haiti, while using diplomatic and humanitarian lingo (restore democratic order; maintain economic and political stability; protect democracy and American lives) to justify their ugly presence in Haiti.
Wilson, as exemplified in his Fourteen Points and “The Hand of God” speech, used the rhetoric of peace, diplomacy and humanitarianism to camouflage U.S. imperialism and liberalism in Haiti. Thus, U.S. imperialism and liberalism are simply updated versions of Jefferson’s Continentalism.
Nonetheless, the same policy rationale was used in the 1990s, when the United States invaded and occupied Haiti again under the guise of peace, diplomacy and humanitarianism, despite the fact that the people of Haiti democratically elected Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide as their president.
Shortly after Aristide’s electoral victory, a man-made crisis occurred. A coup deposed Aristide and the U.N. sanctioned the U.S. occupation of Haiti in 1994, despite the fact that the coup was backed by the CIA. This coup took place under the presidency of Bill Clinton as he imposed his neo-liberal trade policy on Haiti.
By creating this political crisis in Haiti (the coup of Aristide), Clinton was able to cripple the rice exporting economy of Haiti, and his home state of Arkansas ultimately gained the competitive and absolute advantage in rice production and exports. Moreover, with Clinton and the U.N. in Haiti came economic and trade liberalization—the privatization of state-owned industries and resources. For example, the United States Agency for International Development privatized national and industrial parks, the World Bank privatized energy and the Inter-American Development Bank privatized education and water. Thus, with liberalism, Haiti ultimately became a major export processing zone not only in the Americas but also globally.
Now, with the onset of Hurricane Matthew, Haiti’s political climate is uncertain as the upcoming presidential election is postponed again. Thus far, it is reported that Matthew has killed more than 1,000 Haitians and devastated Jeremie, Les Cayes and many other regions in Haiti. As in past natural crises, the United States, Canada, France, Red Cross, the Clinton Foundation and the U.N. are more than eager to “help” the people of Haiti.
However, this time, Haitians are cautious, given the history of these countries and NGOs in regard to Haiti. For example, with the devastating earthquake of 2010 in Haiti, global citizens donated $500 million to the Red Cross and in return the Red Cross only built six homes, which were shanty, unsustainable and unlivable. Moreover, the U.N. “peacekeeping” troops introduced cholera to Haiti, killing more than 10,000 Haitians, and they also murdered and raped underage Haitians without any legal consequence. Furthermore, the U.S. under Obama and Hillary Clinton ignored the votes of the Haitian people by imposing Martelly as president of Haiti. The Clinton Foundation also raised $30 million for relief projects in Haiti and Haitians have yet to see any positive results.
With the crisis of Hurricane Matthew, the question is what is next for Haiti? Another selected official? An increase in cholera outbreak or other diseases? More privatization of state-owned industries? An increase in deaths and more damage to Haitian infrastructures and properties? More donations to the Clinton Foundation, Red Cross, USAID, etc.? Further physical and sexual abuse of Haitian minors by UN “peacekeeping” troops? Continuous complicity, non-activism and nihilism by Haitian intellectuals, scholars and professionals?
Perhaps what is next for Haiti is that the masses become more conscious and skeptical of Western forces, as another revolutionary movement might be in the winds of Haiti rotating inward to an area plagued by the progenitors of Jefferson’s Continentalism, but protected by the legacy of 1804, where the roads of deadly diplomacy and harmful humanitarianism will never meet again in Haiti.
To donate to relief efforts and development projects in Haiti, please consider the following Haitian organizations:
Hope for Today Outreach (https://hopefortodayoutreach.org/)
FONDASYON FELICITEE (www.fondasyonfelicitee.com)
Zili Dilo Hurricane Matthew Relief Fund (http://www.ezilidanto.com/2016/10/donate-support-haiti-hurricane-matthew-victims/)
Kiskeacity # LOF 1804 (http://www.kiskeacity.com/)
Patrick Delices is a political analyst/commentator for the Black Star News and the author of “The Digital Economy” in the Journal of International Affairs. Patrick Delices has taught the History of Haiti, Black Politics, Afro-Caribbean Politics I & II, and Afro-Caribbean International Relations at Hunter College and served as a research fellow for the late Pulitzer Prize recipient, Dr. Manning Marable at Columbia University. Patrick Delices can be contacted at [email protected]. Please visit his website at www.patrickdelices.com.