America’s Obligations to Haiti

By Glen Ford

If you want to know what the rulers of the United States would do if they had unchecked power to order the world as they saw fit, look at Haiti. It is in Haiti that the United States shows its true face: a face of infinite greed, boundless cruelty, absolute cynicism, naked aggression, and a total lack of respect for human dignity—especially, the dignity of Black humanity.

Since 2004, Haiti has been a de facto colony of the United States. By organizing and funding the armed coup that toppled the freely elected government of Jean Bertrand Aristide, and then physically kidnapping and transporting him into African exile, the United States made itself responsible for everything that has transpired, since. This is a principle embedded in international laws of war, of conquest: that the conqueror takes responsibility for the welfare and safety of the vanquished population. The rationale is simple: by conquering a people and seizing authority over the defeated country, the conqueror assumes the responsibility to protect the inhabitants and their human rights, since the conquered people have lost the means to provide and ensure that for themselves.

The United States helped codify that principle into international law more than 60 years ago, but fundamentally violates its spirit every day, in Haiti. The Americans claim they didn’t overthrow President Aristide, but simply had their Marines transport him to safety. The Bush administration installed in Haitian government the most vicious pack of criminals ever assembled in the Americas, and watched while these handpicked degenerates murdered thousands. But the U.S. claimed that was not their responsibility, since America had not conquered Haiti. The U.S. joined with the long ago colonial ruler, France, and the new-jack colonialist, Canada, to figure out what to do with Haiti, without seeming like they were legally responsible. The great white powers snapped their fingers and the United Nations appeared. Haiti became a kind of international protectorate, which is something like being everybody’s colony.

But no one doubted, certainly not the Haitians, that the UN was just a blue-helmeted security service for Uncle Sam—that Haiti was a U.S. possession in every practical sense of the term. If any fool thought differently, last January’s catastrophic earthquake proved that the United States was the occupying power in charge. The Americans seized the Port-au-Prince airport, blockaded the coast, and sent in 22,000 troops whose word was LAW in Haiti. Washington did all of this unilaterally, as if it had every legal right—which it would have, if the Americans acknowledged themselves as the conquering power. But of course, that would mean the U.S. was obligated to spend as many billions as it takes on the human needs of the people of Haiti—not as a matter of charity, but as a solemn legal responsibility. After all, the U.S. took their government from them.

The Americans prefer to deny that they are the power-in-charge while pulling all the strings, including keeping former president Aristide’s party—the most popular in the country—out of the November 28 election.

This is how the Americans would rule the world, if they could: standing on everyone’s necks.

Black Agenda Report, November 16, 2010