I exchange emails with a number of folks from different sides of the aisle. Here’s one that was forwarded to me concerning the allegations that US forces “kidnapped” Haitian president Aristide and that we performed a regime-changing coup in Haiti to further the diabolical schemes of the Bush administration:
I think that Haiti fits in perfectly with Bush’s foreign policy in that it was regime change, pure and simple. One year later we know that the war in/on Iraq was about
1) regime change (“he tried to kill my daddy.”)
2) a boon for the military-industrial complex in terms of profits in supplying troops and
3) oil in that Iraq was the first nation to sell it’s oil for a currency other than US dollars. It didn’t make much a ripple in the late 90s when Hussein decided to sell his oil for Euros instead of US $, but with our genius president Bush the US dollar has sunk 30% against the Euro, which has surely caught the eyes of other oil producers, some of which are not too fond of American foreign policy (see: Venezula, Saudi Arabia) If oil producers pulled the stability of the US$ out from under our feet by accepting Euros or another currency we would have a HUGE fiscal crisis in the country because of our debt, and well, because of the market which Republicans seems to love.
I have to disagree with [so and so] about this administration not being dumb enough to want to overthrow the poorest country in our hemisphere. This administration is plenty dumb. I do agree with [so and so] about Iraq being in a civil war soon, very soon. And sadly, lots of our friends, neighbors, sons and daughters will be in the middle of it.
I responded with
Please explain how “Haiti fits in perfectly with Bush’s foreign policy” matches up with that “foreign policy” as explained in 1-3:
1) Regime change, yes. But why? Just for the sake of regime change? Whether you agree with the reasons or not, there were at least specific reasons given for regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq. I also see specific reasons for regime change in Iran, DPRK, Saudi Arabia, and other places. But why in Haiti? It certainly isn’t because of the oil. If we wanted to overthrow Aristide for US gain, we could certainly have fabricated any story we wanted to justify our actions. We didn’t. The UN (even France) supports this operation. I thought the big bad thing Bush did last year was go it “all alone” without UN approval.
2) Supporting a couple of hundred Marines ashore and a small naval/air detachment, which were already in place and on call for exactly this sort of mission in exactly this sort of place, is a “boon” for the Military-Industrial Complex? Please. How many rounds of ammunition have US troops fired in Haiti? How many smart bombs have been dropped? How many cruise missiles fired? How many massive military bases are under construction? How many F-22 fighters and nuclear-powered aircraft carriers will be on a multi-billion-dollar Haiti emergency spending bill? Was sending the Marines into Liberia last year a boon for defense contractors? And Liberia is much farther away without ready forces available in the region. This is an insignificant speck to the MIC.
3) What does Iraqi oil, US dollars, or Saddam Hussein have to do with Haiti? This is simply rehashing the Iraq same old same old and presenting it as some sort of “proof” that we pulled off a coup in Haiti. Huh?
Sure, Bush and his crew are working hard toward “world domination”/US security (it depends on how you look at it, I guess), but does anyone have a real motive for the US overthrow of Aristide? Anything at all? I haven’t seen anything even remotely plausible.
It seems clear to me that we saw things were bad in Haiti, and since we haven’t been big Aristide fans for a while, we let things run their course. (I mean, wouldn’t protecting him and his regime be interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal business?) We sent soldiers to help get Aristide out, both for his safety (to prevent the general chaos that might follow an assassination or his capture by the rebels) and because we wanted to make sure, that once out, he stayed out. He didn’t like the idea of Central Africa, we told him that’s where the plane was going and that the only way out was through a squad of Marines, so he cried to the media about being “kidnapped”. He’s probably pissed that the good life is down the drain.
I find it amazing that whenever anything anywhere happens, some people work so hard to blame Bush. Friction between Jews and Palestinians? Bush’s fault. Unrest in Central and South America? Bush’s fault. Mexico’s economy in the tank? Bush’s fault.
I’m no big fan of Bush, but give me a break.
I’d also be interested to know what “soon, very soon” specifically means about an upcoming Iraqi civil war. This month? This summer? This year? And define “civil war”. Iraqis attacking other Iraqis? Already happening. Sanctioned government attacks against opposition groups? Was happening for decades, but the US interfered and put a stop to it for now. Armies facing off against each other? What armies?
(I’m going to post this on my site in a few minutes.) Thanks for the discussion.
Please note that I’m not completely dismissing the idea that we engineered a coup. I fact, I believe that we “let” it happen because Aristide seems to have worn out his welcome among the free nations of the earth. Still, I don’t know that this sort of meddling is any different than anything anyone else does (not that that makes it okay, of course), and I don’t really see how Haitians are going to be worse off in the long run. I just haven’t seen anything that indicates to me that the kidnap/coup talk is anything more than rabid anti-Bush drivel. If someone can change my mind, they’ll have changed my mind.
UPDATE: There’s more. Read at your own risk.
The response to my response:
Thanks for the reply – I always like hearing other sides to any argument. Here is an explaination for 1-3, in my view
1) Regime change is all Bush understands. Afganistan, Iraq were the start. Haiti was next. Regime change isn’t about the natural resource, it is about having “friends” in power in as many countries as possible.
It is the cold war mentality brought into the post-Cold War world. It means that supporting someone like Musharrif is easier because he is “helping” in the war of terrorism ™ even though he was brought into power by a military coup while Aristide was elected. The Bush administration did not support Aristide at all, cut off aid in 2001 and left him out to dry. I have no great feelings towards Aristide but I don’t think the USA should be going around helping overthrow democratically elected officials. If we are so interested in promoting democracy around the world (one of the many reasons for our involvement in Iraq according to W) wouldn’t we defend a democratically elected official like Aristide?
And France, what can I say about France. They were right about Iraq.
It was so hard to side with them last year. But France has liked regime change too in the past, it is trait of colonalism probably. And they have a history (historie?) with Haiti, it is one of the few places they can go and have someone to talk to.
It worries me that the president either 1)outright lied to you, Congress and everyone else about why we went to war with Iraq and/or 2) is so inept that he can’t differentiate between solid intelligence reports and bogus reports from con-men like Ahmed Chalibi and you thought the worse thing was not getting UN approval. You should be pissed about the WMD and Al Quada lies that Bush sold to all Americans. Maybe you care more about the UN than I do.
2) I was talking about military-industrial complex making out like bandits in Iraq. Just look at the sharp increase in profits Bechtel and Halliburton reported recently and where they send there campaign contributions. And I think comparing our involvement in Iraq with Liberia is a little skewed.
3) Haiti has nothing to do with petrol dollars. Obviously my argument didn’t make enough sense. It has to do with the fiscal stability of the dollar being tied to the requirement of oil producing countries to trade internationally in US dollars. If oil producing countries did not need to keep large amounts of US dollars in their treasury, our currency and ability to borrow money would suffer.
I do not have the answer to our involvement in Haiti. I do know that we have occupied Haiti twice in the 1900s. I know it is poor. I know they speak French. I know there is voodoo happen there. But the real reason our troops are now in Haiti, I don’t know. I also don’t know why a priest that wanted to reverse the inequity of wealth distribution in Haiti is now in the Central African Republic complaining that he was kidnapped. I also know that Baby Doc got asylum in the French Riveria so maybe I would be pissed too.
I don’t think I blamed Bush for Israel’s problems. I do believe that we tried overthrowing Chavez in 2002 and believe we are still working at it. And our involvement historically in South-Central America dates back a long time so I would never place the blame solely on Bush. But is it part of our history that we should be proud of? Does it help us in the long term to overthrow goverments?
And my response to the response:
Thank-you for the in-depth reply.
1) I don’t think not intervening is the same as “helping overthrow”. Aristide WAS democratically elected, but so was Saddam. And Hitler. And Clinton. (Absolutely positively nothing should be read into the fact that I mentioned–oh, hell…I retract the Clinton statement.) We are not obligated to protect the power of Iran’s rulers simply because we are promoting democracy in the world. Still, I see what you’re getting at and will readily admit that Bush & Co. aren’t likely to take the diplomacy route if another option is available. And I personally don’t care whether Iraq had WMDs or not, I’ve supported regime change there since the summer of 1991. But I know that many people DO care.
2) I wasn’t comparing Iraq and Liberia. I was comparing Haiti and Liberia. I thought we were talking about Haiti. American manufacturers always make money during war. GM and Ford raked it in during WW2. Halliburton making $$$ during a war doesn’t necessarily mean anything improper is going on. Besides, Bush is pro-big business. Doesn’t that have anything to do with where Halliburton sends its contributions? Labor unions send their $$$ to the DNC more often than not because the Dems support the wants of the labor unions. I’m not dismissing Halliburton ties, just pointing out that the fact they’re making money isn’t damning in and of itself.
3) Our involvement in Haiti is after-the-fact order-keeping. Is every government that is sending troops to Haiti in on the scheme to overthrow Aristide? I’m not only not pro-UN as you mentioned, but I’m pretty strongly anti-UN, at least as the UN exists today. But I must admit that in Haiti today the UN and many of its member nations seem to be doing good.
I know you didn’t blame Bush for Israel’s problems. I was speaking generally. Bush is in power, so every time something goes wrong the fingers point at him. When Clinton was in power the fingers pointed in his direction. It’s sort of like being the starting quarterback. When the team wins, you’re a star. When the team loses, you’re a goat. It doesn’t matter what’s really going on, you carry the responsibility if you’re the POTUS.
A problem with discussions about Halliburton’s involvement is that you end up sounding like you’re defending them. I’m not. Really. But I’m also not willing to believe that our entire foriegn policy is based upon making them money.