Reflections about Iraq and Haiti

Post Reply
User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2153
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:03 pm

Reflections about Iraq and Haiti

Post by admin » Sun Mar 23, 2003 4:58 pm


Reflections about Iraq and Haiti
Guy S. Antoine, March 8, 2003

Please consider:

How many countries in this world possess weapons of mass destruction?
Let's start with the biggest culprit.

How many countries in this world make and sell weapons of mass destruction?
Let's start with the biggest culprit.

How many countries in this world stockpile weapons of mass destruction?
Let's start with the biggest culprit.

How many countries in this world have unleashed weapons of mass destruction?
Let's start with the biggest culprit.

How many countries in this world have threatened to use their weapons of mass destruction?
Let's start with the most recent culprit.

If Iraq figured as the answer to any of the above questions, then we'd agree with the President of the United States that Iraq represents A CLEAR AND IMMINENT DANGER to the security of the United States and indeed the entire World, and should be forcibly disarmed. For the sake of HUMANITY, all weapons of mass destruction should be destroyed. And it's only rational that the biggest of the culprits, those who possess, make and sell, stockpile, unleash, and threaten to use weapons of mass destruction atone for their sins. The World needs leaders who show great determination in attaining peace, not an absolute preoccupation with waging war. In one generation, we have already seen too many wars. Are those wars leading the world to greater peace, justice and security??? Dare to answer the question for posterity.

Yes, we demand war: War against starvation in Ethiopia and in Haiti, war against AIDS in South Africa and in Haiti, war against poverty in North America and in Haiti, war against misery in Latin America and in Haiti, war against hopelessness in Haiti and increasingly in the rest of the world.

If we should unleash war, let it be a war that we can all believe in!

We Americans, and I do speak as a Haitian-American, have every reason to be concerned about a world perception of the United States as A CLEAR AND IMMINENT DANGER to the security of lesser nation-states. In this 200th anniversary of the emergence of the Haitian Flag that in 1803 came to symbolize the abolishment of the European institution of slavery (resulting in the abject dehumanization and limitless exploitation of Africans in America) and the liberation of nations the world over, I ask that my country of citizenship, the United States of America, finally make peace with the country whose political independence they deigned to recognize only some 60 years after the fact; that they begin a progressive foreign policy of assistance, not to be measured in dollars, but in real living terms: health delivery systems, literacy and education, nutrition, reforestation, agriculture, renewable energy and water safe enough to drink, waste recycling, and meaningful employment.

The real shame of America today is not in having allowed Saddam Hussein to stay in power in the early 90's, but in allowing and abetting the persistence of inhumane conditions in a little black country near their borders. A little black country, yes!, but a country that seemed larger than life when in 1803 it gave the world the greatest example of leadership in its inexorable pursuit of freedom; a country where dark-skinned world heroes dared accomplish what no U.S. leader of the fabled American Revolution had dared think possible: the liberation of black African slaves and their integration into an inclusive society.

How long after 1776 did an American Leader emerge to consider that the Negroes of America were men equally deserving of their freedom? How long after 1803 will an American Leader emerge to consider that Haiti deserves its own place in the sun, that men from a little black country, "the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere," as the world press never fails to inform us, deserve the opportunity to set themselves straight and take a place of honor in the family of nations? The question is: should Haiti be eternally punished for its grand gesture of victory over its oppressors (who happened to be White, Europeans, and descendants of Europeans) or should it be let free to exercise its rights to self-determination, with the assistance and real fraternity of the United States of America, its former master France, its Latin American neighbors, and the friends it selects from the rest of the world? That's the question, America! The lessons of 1803 can never be erased from the History books. Free men of all nations should celebrate Haiti this year, for what Haiti gave to the world in 1803. No one should still feel ambivalent about what this proud nation accomplished 200 years ago.

In 1803, an army of would-be re-enslaved black men defeated Imperial France and showed unmistakable courage to an American continent which treasured the privileges derived from slavery, and in so doing struck fear in the hearts of American slave owners who wished that an independent Haiti would go to hell. Are we living their dreams today? No, they wished us far worse. However, we must slow down our descent into the abyss. Haiti and ALL Haitians deserve better.

We open our arms to 500 million friends around the world, who would assist us rather than dictate when we may get our next meal. Haiti for Haitians and for a World free of all forms of terrorism!

Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2153
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:03 pm

Do not assign all the blame for that to the US

Post by admin » Tue Mar 25, 2003 1:03 pm

This letter was sent to me by a correspondent. It constitutes an interesting argument to which I will respond to clarify my point of view.

Dear Guy,

Re: your frustrations of failure in Haiti, which I, too, bemoan, but I do not assign all the blame for that to the US, or to Americans, or to the reluctance to accept the 1803 independence of Haiti. I have seen enough in Haiti i.e. corruption (customs, government agencies, police, army/macoutes, some clergy, drug dealers etc.), political instability due to hunger for power, greed and paranoia of the elite, etc., all on the part of HAITIANS) to be able to see that the biggest reasons for the bad situation you describe in Haiti and which you criticize the US for tolerating are not imported. I certainly agree that the above sins are not committed by the majority of Haitians, but the substantial minority who do are controlling the fate of the co
untry.

Continuing to wait for the US to take responsibility for Haiti's problems is to accept defeat. The Haitian diaspora for example, (in US and elsewhere) is in a position to make a difference in Haiti's politics, not just in sending money and goods to family members, so why not urge them to do something instead of expecting the US government to do it?

A correspondent

User avatar
admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2153
Joined: Thu Nov 13, 2014 7:03 pm

Where do you get the idea that I assign all blame to the US?

Post by admin » Tue Mar 25, 2003 1:48 pm


From Guy S. Antoine:

Thanks for your reply.

I do not, as you seem to imply, "assign all the blame to the US, or to Americans, or to the reluctance to accept the 1803 independence of Haiti". I most certainly fault American policy for some of the obstacles that have been put in the way of Haiti's development and I am addressing those obstacles as specifically as I can. I have not said, and I have never meant to imply, that Haitians themselves have had no part in the current sorry state of their underdevelopment.

In the space of one editorial, one cannot begin to address all different aspects pertaining to the history of one nation. I am grateful for the support that a great many Americans have given to Haiti unconditionally throughout her history. But I would be highly hypocritical, if I did not also point out that Washington DC policy not only towards Haiti but towards Central and Latin America, as well as most of what used to be called "the Third World" has been mostly a policy of supercharged exploitation. And certainly that policy has been expressed by many American leaders in an unmistakably racist manner. Am I a radical for pointing this out? I am simply expressing myself as a Haitian-American, with a particular interest for the affairs of Haiti, just as a Cuban-American has a particular interest for the affairs of Cuba, an Armenian-American has similar interest with respect to policies affecting Armenia, etc...

While I critique American policy towards Haiti through Democratic and Republican administrations, I do so in concert with many concerned Americans, while wishing the best for the US and its citizens, which will likely include my yet to be born grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Simply, I would like to see better, much more humane policies coming from Washington DC.

As to how Haitians conduct their own affairs, I am not accepting defeat nor am I urging them to "expect the US Government to do" for them what they will not do for themselves, as you seem to believe. In fact, nothing would please me more than to see the US take a less active role in Haitians' conduct of their own affairs and forcing them to take full responsibility for their own governance. Let Haitians deal with their own bad leaders, their own dictators, their own corrupt politicians. In the long run, Haitians are not less capable than Americans or any other people to straighten themselves out. They are no less capable.

I AM NOT ASKING AMERICANS TO POUR MONEY INTO HAITI. Strangely enough, sectors in Haiti where USAID has poured the most money through the generosity of American taxpayers are precisely those sectors that have become the most impoverished. American humanitarian aid in Haiti in the past several years has gotten attached to strings and strings of political demands, which to the eyes of more and more Haitians
, gives "humanitarian aid" a really bad name. It becomes humanism in the service of policy.

Doesn't it seem strange that under the worst periods of totalitarian rule and repression in Haiti, humanitarian aid never was so encumbered by concerns of American ideals of democratization. They never were... yet, today, the US is such a big brother to Haiti and has become so concerned with Haiti's democratic future, that it is killing Haitians with its embrace. From one American to another, I suggest to you that such an emphatic embrace does not come from benevolence.

Faulty elections or not, and I had rather not discuss Haiti's elections without making reference to the Florida debacle, I think that the vast majority of observers who have taken the time to speak to majority class Haitians in 1990 or ten years later in 2000, know perfectly well, unless they choose to lie to themselves, that Jean Bertrand Aristide was the majority choice of the Haitian people to be at the helm of Haiti's government. Has he been a good leader? Has he been a bad leader? Has George Bush been a good leader? Has George Bush been a bad leader? Those questions generate endless debates both in Haiti and in the US with extremely opinionated stances. But one thing for sure, no other country that I know of, irrespective of US policy, is giving money to create political parties of opposition to George Bush or to dictate the terms of America's electoral politics.

I can perfectly understand many Americans' desire to assist a much less privileged people living in a country close to their shores. But I do not agree with the factual embargo of "aid" to Haiti (and I emphatically put the word "aid" between quotes, and I absolutely do not agree with the Haitian government's begging for that aid for the past two years). If I do not agree with the factual embargo, it's on a LEGAL BASIS. The Inter-American Development Bank, of which the United States is a member, of which Haiti is also a member, has agreed on contractual terms to disburse monies to Haiti. Under pressure from the World Bank and particularly the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank has not disbursed those loans that were targeted to Haiti's economic development, because the Haitian government has not satisfied ever exacting political demands placed upon it by the American State Department. Those political demands are not part of the loan agreement, a fact which places the Inter-American Development Bank and its two bigger partners, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, in contravention of US Law.

That is the basis on which a suit against the Inter-American Development Bank has been threatened, for breach of contract by the Robert Kennedy Foundation, an American corporation. I fully support their aims, while recognizing that those aims will be extraordinarily difficult to achieve.

If the United States could close their eyes to the excesses of the dictatorial Duvalierist regimes, I am certainly not convinced by their sudden passion for the democratization of Haiti.

The withholding of 500 million dollars of contracted funds for Haiti is providing an illegitimate excuse for Haitians not willing to do for Haiti with the meager resources at their disposition. As an American citizen, I am willing to pressure the United States to do the right thing by Haiti, and to stop their politics of high hypocrisy, even when others choose to assimilate my demands to some form of "victimization". We should ALL want the US to be lawfully minded and to be a good moral leader for the world. As far as Haiti is concerned, if you research other editorials that I have written for Windows on Haiti, you will discover that I categorically oppose Haiti's debilitating reliance on US dollars.

I often feel embarrassed by the words of Haitian politicians, who speak as though 500 million dollars would begin to solve Haiti's grave problems, in the absence of an urgent call to all Haitians, in Haiti and abroad, to come
and participate in the renewal of Haiti. I can guarantee you that we would not need US Government money at all, if Haitians would realize that their society MUST become INCLUSIVE of all sectors of Haitian society, including the reviled "diaspora", the "Madan Saras", and the poorest of the poor in the Haitian countryside.

Could this happen with Haiti's current leadership? Good question, but I am willing to bet that a Haitian spirit of cooperation will never result from implacable demands by the so-called "International Community" that Haiti abide by their will or else. If you do not believe in the Haitian people's capacity to forge the destiny of their nation, then let Haiti die so she can be reborn from its ashes.

I sincerely believe, and so without having gone through any process of radicalization, that American policy towards Haiti, throughout Haiti's entire existence, has been largely negative. I should, as an American, feel entirely free to express what I believe to be the case from my clear and honest understanding of US-Haiti relations. I think that it is patently unfair to assimilate my stance to one of victimization. I do not choose to place my head in the sand so as not to see the extraordinary irresponsibility of both Haitian and US governments in the prevention of a course of progressive policies for the full human development of the Haitian people.

People often point to corruption among Haitian politicians or Haiti's business elite as evidence that Haiti cannot govern itself. We should be honest and consider that in terms of billions and billions of dollars, it would take a thousand Haitis to match the level of corruption that exists not only in the US, but in many other countries in the world. Corruption IS NOT a Haitian thing, as even some of my friends contend. Corruption simply exists in Haiti and it must be dealt with accordingly. I want the "International Community" to stop patronizing Haiti. If Haiti should live up to its historic responsibilities and contractual obligations, let it be in true partnership with other peoples in the world, and not under the forced tutelage of the US, France or Canada. That's where I play my part, as an American citizen, not in the preemptively described roles of "blame" or "victimization" that others would apply to me (I have seen such knee-jerk characterizations too many times). As always, let an impartial reading of history and not ideology be our guide.

In fraternity with you, always.

Guy S. Antoine

Post Reply