Maxwell: Shameless and Graceless – The International Community in Haiti

Posted on February 17, 2010


John Maxwell

Sunday, February 14, 2010

HENRY Kissinger once said that the United States had no friends, only interests. Watching the US intervention in Haiti makes it clear that the US, in the pursuit of its interests, does not need to exhibit any human attributes such as shame or grace.


ARISTIDE… wants to help Haiti develop
ARISTIDE… wants to help Haiti develop

I said a few weeks ago that it seemed a little counterproductive to send masses of soldiers to Haiti since you can’t eat soldiers and soldiers needed to be fed and, in Haiti, one American probably consumes as much as 10 Haitians. Feeding 20,000 US soldiers takes as much resources as feeding the entire population of Cité Soleil — the biggest slum in the Caribbean.

It is heartbreaking to read of the screwed-up relief efforts — screwed up mainly by sending in soldiers instead of relief workers, nurses and just ordinary people willing to follow instructions and to use their imagination and initiative. Remember that army put-down from the comic books:

“You’re not being paid to think!”

Famines, famously, are not caused by shortages of food but by deficiencies of imagination and planning. In Haiti at this moment, some of the world’s most disciplined people are too often being treated like wild animals. The problem is that many of Haiti’s self-appointed rescuers are scared witless by their own superstitions and the garbage fed to them by irresponsible journalists and crazy preachers.

You can see it in the pictures, where people have on their own formed orderly queues but are still being harassed by men with rifles and an inflated sense of their own importance. One of the scourges of Haiti — self-righteous NGOs — is clearly wasting resources, time and lives, insisting on being protected against starving women and children instead of getting out and doing what they should be doing.

Above it all are the mainstream journalists, busy viewing with alarm, scornful of the heat, the smells and the people, and prophesying outbreaks of mindless violence at any moment.

It is impossible to view Haiti without realising the enormous tax the world pays for ignorance and fear, and without understanding the real cost of journalism in promoting strife, frustration and unhappiness.

The Internet has made it much easier to transmit lies and superstition. A piece that landed on my screen supposedly from a black person in South Africa was so full of misinformation and outright lies that I thought that it must be a production of one of the thousands of right-wing solfataras of hate. Briefly, this farrago of nonsense claimed that no black country had come to the aid of Haiti — when his own country had been one of the first responders. Venezuela and other Caribbean countries had also made their contributions and, of course, he forgot Cuba, with 1,200 doctors and other emergency workers now there and more to come.

The letter was meant to discredit the poor, the black and the developing countries who are clearly not grateful for the incredible blessings bestowed on them by colonialism.

One of these days someone should try to estimate the real economic cost of ‘journalists’ like James Anthony Froude, Rudyard Kipling, Bob Novak, Jules Dubois and their more recent versions, the Wolf Blitzers, Judith Millers and their ilk.

These people are among the most important factors in the current confusion about Haiti and about the true state of the world.

Robert Novak, for instance, parachuted into Haiti in 2004 on a mission to sanitise the bloodthirsty La Tortue, and his way of doing that was to malign Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

According to Novak, the Haitian ‘Prime Minister’ La Tortue was correct in describing the bandits, rapists and murderers backing him as ‘freedom fighters’. According to Novak, “The radical president’s [Aristide’s] reign left a country without electricity, passable roads or public schools, with a devastated economy and, according to La Tortue, a looted treasury.”

La Tortue told Novak: “The public finance is in crisis. They (the Aristide regime) took everything they could from the reserve of the country.” His estimate: “Over $1 billion stolen in four weeks.” (Emphasis added)

The problem is that there has never been one billion of anything in Haiti worth stealing, and what is remarkable is that a remark so completely unbelievable and outrageous as to verge on the insane, was published and republished in newspapers and magazines considered reputable in the United States. Aristide, despite his interruptions, left a country better off than he found it. (See

The question, of course, is why the US has such a down on Haiti and why apparently sane people are so ready to believe the rubbish they do about Haiti.

Some of the reasons are:

*Haitian insubordination in declaring themselves independent and offering universal emancipation and universal rights;

* Haiti’s strategic position, commanding two of the most important gateways to the Caribbean;

* Haiti’s potential as a base to attack Cuba;

* Haiti’s position on top of a super-giant oilfield, rivalling Saudi Arabia’s in importance; and

* Haiti’s potential as an offshore slave plantation from which US companies can import cheap ‘manufactures’ without worrying about unions or human rights.

Haitians, of course, have completely different ideas.

* They want to be allowed, for the first time at last, to govern themselves without the brutal interference of the former slave-owning states;

* They want back the money — ¤20,000,000,000 — extorted from them by the French and the Americans over 120 years, and which robbed them of the resources to develop their own country;

* Haitians driven abroad by US-backed dictators want to go back home and work for the development of their own country;

* Haitians cannot understand why they are denied the benefits of their membership in the United Nations and other international organisations of which they were foundation members.

Part of the problem with any discussion on Haiti with Americans is the political illiteracy of so many Americans — particularly journalists — some of whom think Obama is a Socialist or a Nazi. Aristide’s opponents, including some so-called journalists, have portrayed him as a blood-drinking, baby-sacrificing, black-magician Communist. This garbage has been spread so wide and so deep that outside of Haiti, most people do not know that Aristide is a gentle, God-fearing priest, a practical man whose ideology is Haiti.

The Haitian people know this and keep telling the world that they want their democracy and their president back. The world press this week is full of stories about the lack of leadership in Haiti. There is no lack of leadership in Haiti; the leadership is there but it is the leadership of the majority, of the Fanmi Lavalas, of people loyal to Aristide. The United States and their clients in the United Nations Security Council do not wish to see this.

Aristide does not want to be president again, but he wants to help Haiti develop. Between him and that aspiration sit a small gang of parasitic margin-gatherers who call themselves businessmen but who are really sophisticated gang leaders operating by remote control.

If Haiti is to regain its integrity and autonomy, there will need to be a programme resembling the post-war de-Nazification in Germany to re-educate people in elementary civics. Otherwise, sooner or later there will be another Papa Doc, or maybe even an Idi Amin.

In 2004, the UN special envoy to Haiti, Reginald Dumas, a Caribbean man, declared that the UN should be committing itself to a long-term mission in Haiti to last about 20 years. “We cannot continue with the start-stop cycle that has characterised relations between the international community and Haiti. You go in, you spend a couple of years, you leave, the Haitians are not necessarily involved and the whole thing collapses. This has to stop,” Dumas said.

He told the council: “There has to be a long-term commitment, which I perceive the council is ready and willing to give,” Dumas said. “It must be co-ordinated assistance. It must be sustained assistance, and it must be assistance that involves the people of Haiti. It cannot be a situation in which the UN or some other agency goes in and says, ‘I have this for you.’ There has to be discussion. There has to be cooperation, or else it will fail again.”

I agree with Dumas but for one particular point: The Haitians need to get out of the clutches of the Security Council and seek help from the General Assembly, where they have friends.


Copyright©2010 John Maxwell