Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Haiti Probably Wishes it Had Oil

The Haitian rebels may have stopped for the time being, as they wait to see if Aristide will step down, but prospects look bleak for the Haitian people either way. Aristide has many opponents both within and without of his government and international observers noted voting irregularities in the 2000 elections. Popular sentiment has definitely assisted the rebels because they captured Haiti's second largest city Cap-Haitien with only a few thousand troops.

This is making things very difficult for the Haitian police force. They aren't equipped to handle armed rebels and no countries have stepped forward to assist in thwarting the insurgent movement led by Guy Philippe.

The United States has refused to send in any troops until a political entente was reached. This is sort of like a reverse Iraq War, because that involved the US sending troops into a country who's leadership and people didn't want them to invade and now they are keeping troops on the ground until a political entente is reached (ie. a provisional government that will draft a constitution, provided it doesn't base itself on Sharia law).

If Haiti had oil, would the US be more interested in lending a battalion? According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti has no oil reserves. They aren't sitting on any Texas tea, unlike faraway Iraq. Of course, we went into Iraq to promote democracy, right? And when we sent troops to guard the oil wells and pipelines but ignored guarding the museums and schools, that was also a democratic decision made by the highest levels of the American government.

For now, Haiti will wait for someone brave enough to protect the innocent. I admit that I was caught on the wrong side of the fence a couple of weeks ago, misled by conflicting media reports that depicted Aristide as a monster. Upon further research, I discovered that much of the leadership of the insurgency was involved in human rights violations and previous coup attempts. Aristide and his thugs or Philippe and his thugs? Out of the frying pan and into the flames.

Canada is sending a squad of troops or so to secure our embassy and get out our nationals but we're not leaping to the defense of the Aristide government either. Then again, we don't spend $396.1 billion USD per year on our defense department, and we're already tied up with remnants of the Taliban in Kabul.

This is a perfect example of where the Peacekeepers of the United Nations should be sent. I hope that Kofi Annan sends in the troops, to prevent further bloodshed.

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