Experts Divided on US Invasion of Haiti
As Clinton seeks UN backing on armed intervention in Haiti, a Monitor survey shows opinions divided on how to build democracy there and prevent a flow of refugees
NO foreign policy issue has brought so much criticism down on President Clinton as his handling of the Haitian crisis. Mr. Clinton has been criticized for drift and vacilation, even as the stated goals of US policy - toppling the military junta that seized power three years ago, restoring democracy, and staunching the flow of Haitian refugees - go unrealized. The Clinton administration is now seeking UN support for a possible invasion. As relations with Haiti move into a critical period, the Monitor asked a cross-section of experts what they would do if they were in charge of US policy toward the island nation. US has plan in place, Aristide must be clearerSkip to next paragraph
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REP. Lee Hamilton (D), of Indiana, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
``I think the fundamentals of the [Clinton administration's Haiti] policy are basically sound. The goal is certainly sound - restoring democracy. We have a strategy in place now: tough, tightly targeted sanctions; a sanctuary policy for those who want to leave; humanitarian aid for the poor; contingency planning for military action; and extensive international planning for a peacekeeping force. It's taken quite a while for the policy to be put in place and now we have to give it an opportunity to work. In the meantime, we should make improvements in implementation, like stopping the flow of gas across the Dominican border and seeking more cooperation from the nations in the hemisphere. Also, I think Aristide has to clarify his own views. It's not clear what his position is on the use of force or on allowing peacekeeping forces once he is restored to power. He has to reach out to other democratic forces in Haiti. The question is not whether he is restored to power but whether he can govern, and to govern he will have to build a coalition.'' US backing of Aristide has been a bad mistake
ELLIOTT ABRAMS, assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs during the Reagan administration and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute:
``If we invade Haiti, the invasion will be denounced by Aristide and he will refuse to go back. The goal must be to put together a coalition government under [Haiti's caretaker Prime Minister] Robert Malval which includes all democratic forces, all parties in Haiti, and we can probably do that without an invasion.
``If the military grows so contemptuous of the the US that it will agree to nothing, and if human rights abuses grow and grow, I might favor overthrowing them, but I still wouldn't favor replacing them with Aristide, since I don't think his restoration will lead to the consolidation of democracy. One of the key failings of our policy has been to back Aristide instead of the center. To attain the goal of fair elections and a broad interim government, we have to marginalize Aristide, who has done enough damage already....
``We should have a large covert program aimed at identifying middle-level officers who could get rid of [Lt. Gen. Raoul] Cedras [and the other members of the military junta]. The Clinton administration has not undertaken any covert action. This is a big mistake.'' US should not invade, but use quiet diplomacy