Lugar: Buildup to Haiti Has Become Like Theater


THE Haiti crisis, with its public invasion preparations and continued huffing and puffing intended to scare the Haitian junta into retirement, has developed into an extraordinary piece of political drama, according to one of the GOP's chief foreign-policy spokesmen.

``This is almost an entertainment,'' said Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana at a Monitor breakfast. ``It's theater in the round.''

As Mr. Lugar spoke Saturday, the crisis had not been resolved. President Clinton might yet successfully force Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and his cohorts into peaceful retirement, noted Lugar.

But Lugar continues to oppose an invasion of Haiti, even though he recognizes that such a military move is a forgone conclusion if General Cedras does not leave. ``These things always go badly in some particular way,'' said Lugar, whether unintended casualties, accidents, or a mire effect that traps US troops in a country past the point of their intended departure.

A difficult end to the crisis became inevitable once the Clinton team decided that the restoration of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was the key factor, said Lugar. Mr. Aristide - who won what the US judged a free and fair election by an overwhelming margin - is loathed by the Haitian military, and they fear for their lives upon Aristide's return.

By restoring the popularly elected president, the Clinton administration hopes it can restore stability on the island and stop the flow of refugees toward the US. But the economic problems of Haiti are so dire that it is not clear merely returning Aristide will stop the refugee flow, claimed Lugar.

Congress has felt that it was not properly consulted on the Haiti policy, and thus strong opposition to Mr. Clinton's actions has surfaced in recent weeks. But Clinton might still have been able to win a vote approving invasion, said Lugar. ``The fact is the president hasn't made a case to Congress,'' said Lugar.

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