Source Responsible Statecraft
WASHINGTON, U.S.--The Biden administration is throwing its support behind a misguided push for international intervention in Haiti.
The United States has drafted a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for an armed multinational force to be sent to the Caribbean country over the express opposition of most Haitians and the bulk of Haitian civil society.
The unelected and widely despised Haitian authorities under acting prime minister Ariel Henry have appealed for outside forces to restore order, but the people of Haiti have made it as clear as they can that Henry and his allies do not speak for them and that their request has no legitimacy.
The long history of failed and destructive outside interference in Haitian affairs shows that neither the United States nor the U.N. has the solution to Haiti’s political problems. Each time that outside forces have meddled in the name of helping Haiti, they have reliably made things worse.
The United States and other outside powers have consistently refused to let Haitians decide their own political future, and now they propose to send troops once again regardless of what the population wants.
It is true that Haiti has been suffering from a deteriorating security situation that has grown worse since Moïse’sassassination in 2021, but sending in foreign troops isn’t the answer.
The last U.N. mission in Haiti was a debacle marred by extensive human rights abuses, including sexual assault of young women and girls, and the spread of cholera.
Interventionists have no good answers for this question.
Haitian civil society leaders have been unequivocal that foreign intervention is not needed or wanted. An umbrella coalition of Haitian organizations, The Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, also known as the Montana Accord, rejected the government’s call for outside military assistance, and they have been joined by other Haitian organizations in their opposition to an outside imposed solution.
Reflexive interventionists in Washington have been banging the drum to send foreign forces into the country ever since the last president was killed.
Advocates for outside intervention have failed to recognize the deep popular hostility to another international mission, and they are seriously underestimating the dangers of sending unprepared foreign soldiers into a political situation as explosive as this one.
“But the major reason I resigned is because I saw U.S. policy moving in exactly this direction, toward intervention, which is, as Einstein said—and I’ll paraphrase—trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity.
There is good reason to fear that introducing foreign troops into Haiti would exacerbate the country’s security problems over the longer term rather than bring them under control. There is a strong possibility that Haiti’s armed gangs would resist a foreign military presence, but beyond that there is a danger of provoking a popular uprising against outside forces that are not wanted there.
Military intervention would be a risky proposition even if it enjoyed broad popular support, but to pursue it when there is so much vocal opposition to it inside the country is inexcusable arrogance.
It is not too late for the Biden administration to change course and avoid making a terrible blunder, but to do that it must abandon this idea of backing a multinational force and begin listening to what most Haitians are saying about how to address their country’s crisis.
The right course of action is to withdraw U.S. backing for a de facto government that has no legitimacy, assist in determining who was responsible for the assassination of Moïse, and support Haitian civil society organizations as they prepare the way for new elections on a timetable of their choosing.