Wednesday, February 18, 2004

How Do You Say "Overstretched" in French?

When our military is stretched too thin, lots of really bad things can happen. And not just to our troops' morale.

While clothed in the usual mealy-mouthed diplomatic language of international affairs, BushCo. has indicated they have "no enthusiasm" for sending troops to Haiti, where a violent coup appears poised to spiral out of control. And this for the Haitian president, Jeanne Bertrand Aristide, that American troops helped re-take the presidency he overwhelmingly won after a previous coup attempt.

There are lots of reasons why Aristide himself should likely not be helped; he has grown more corrupt and allowed roving bands of government supporters and thugs to enforce his tenuous hold on power. But the Haitian people, some of the poorest in the Caribbean, already dependent in large part on government and international food aid, are in dire need of help. Deploying even a regiment of US troops, in coordination with the UN or a couple of European allies would be a relatively easy way to bring some stability to the country and allow its fragile democracy a chance to heal itself.

From The Seattle Times:

Secretary of State Colin Powell responded that the United States, which sent in soldiers to restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994 after he was ousted in a coup that led to an influx of Haitian boat people to Florida, had "no enthusiasm" for sending military forces to Haiti.

He said the administration was working toward a political solution.


He is accused of using police and armed militants to stifle dissent and allowing corruption to fund lavish lifestyles for his cronies as the majority of the 8 million people suffer deeper misery.

But other countries say they cannot condone the use of force by Aristide's opponents to remove him.

"Certainly there needs to be some changes in the way Haiti is governed and the security situation as well," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. But he added, "That's a matter for the people of Haiti to decide."
And they say irony is dead.

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