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Haiti Needs New Elections, Not Invasion

WHEN it comes to invading Haiti, Brent Scowcroft has a word of advice for President Clinton: Don't.

The former national security adviser to Presidents Ford and Bush says the US policy of trying to restore exiled Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power has run its course. The United States should therefore drop Mr. Aristide and press for new elections in Haiti.

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``Let's go back and focus on democracy, not on Aristide,'' Mr. Scowcroft said at a Monitor breakfast Aug. 2. ``He's too weak a reed to lean on.''

Scowcroft says Mr. Clinton should do in Haiti what he did in China. After insisting for a year that the US should link the renewal of China's most-favored-nation trading status to human rights reforms, Clinton bowed to the inevitable and changed policy.

Just so, Scowcroft says, it is clear that in Haiti, only an unpopular invasion could reinstate Aristide. Thus, the Clinton administration should abandon its efforts to put Aristide back into power, on the condition that the mil- itary junta that overthrew him in 1991 also stands down.

``Let's organize new elections [and] start over again,'' says Scowcroft, who is now a private consultant. ``We've done our best. The UN vote shows that the world is less than enthusiastic about what we want to do. There's even less enthusiasm in Latin America. Therefore, we need to take a different course.''

Calling for new elections in Haiti instead of supporting the winner of the last one might not be popular in Latin America, Scowcroft admits, but then neither is the idea of a US-led invasion, even under the UN auspices granted by the Security Council July 31.

Scowcroft says Clinton's management of the Haiti situation reflects a larger pattern of inconsistency. Each time Clinton steps up pressure on the Haitian junta - with new military maneuvers, for example - he then says the US has not made up its mind about what to do next. Such erratic policy has convinced Haiti's military leaders that they can safely ignore US pressure - which means that, in the end, the US may have to invade.

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