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December 15, 2003



If I were a candidate for president I would beg our allies fulfill their existing committments before I asked them to take on more.

In Haiti, for example that interests me, in 1994 the U.S. helped depose Duvalier and reinstate Aristide (elected democratically in 1990.) We turned the mission over to the U.N. in 95. At turnover there were nearly 1500 international troops, peacekeepers, aid workers, etc in the country. By early '96, the U.N. had announced (a) the name of the support project ("MICAH", which is some sort of clever acronym if you can decipher the French) and (b) a six-month timetable for withdrawal of forces. By 2000, MICAH was still there, though down to a strength of some 300 people, mostly civilian. That same year elections, wide considered fraudulent, "confirmed" Aristide as dicta -- er, president. The last four U.S. officials of the project pulled out.

Given that Haiti is a Franco-Phonic nation one might expect that France would have a serious interest in the success of Haiti. Likewise Canada, which has the added interest of (relative) proximity, membership in the Organization of American States, and a world wide reputation at being GOOD at peacekeeping/nationbuilding missions, (as always, drawing contrast between themselves and the United States.)

But it is not evident to me that either of these allied nations have greater interest in taking stronger action in Haiti than does the U.S. Either we will all let the place fall apart, or the U.S. will -- acting unilaterally, as Clinton found himself doing -- intervene. Again.

Which may pull resources away from the hunt for Bin Laden. Alternately, a president might have to pull 1000 U.S. troops out of NATO's mission in Kosovo, or a different 1000 out of Bosnia; in order to do similar missions closer to home. I can't imagine any such reduction would be popular with NATO or the citizens of Afghanistan, or the former Yugoslavia. Seems like the perception overseas is, if U.S. forces aren't present, it isn't really happening.

I would REALLY like our allies to step up a bit more aggressively and shoulder more of these loads.

Sorta like the Australians have in E. Timor, I guess. (Ozzies staying in after the U.N. pulls out...)

Cecil Turner

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