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24672: Durban (pub): Wash Post lead editorial

Lance Durban <lpdurban@yahoo.com>

Here's the lead editorial from today's Washington Post....
L. Durban

                  Haiti, One Year Later

JUST MORE THAN a year after U.S. forces escorted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile, Haiti remains in crisis.
Heavily armed gangs loyal to Mr. Aristide or to drug traffickers
roam urban neighborhoods;  former army and security forces of
the military dictatorships that preceded him control much of the
countryside. More than 400 people have died in political
violence just since September, ranking Haiti with Iraq as a zone
of debilitating insecurity. A timid U.N. peacekeeping force has
been as ineffectual as the politically isolated interim
government.  Economic reconstruction from last year's warfare
and subsequent natural disasters has barely begun: International
donors failed to deliver 80 percent of the aid they pledged last

  In short, Haiti remains what it was a year ago: a
quasi-failed state 600 miles from the United States. Sadly, U.S.
policy hasn't changed much either. The Bush administration still
aspires to delegate Haiti's troubles to other countries or
international organizations such as the United Nations and the
Organization of American States. One direct result of this
policy is the continued insecurity, since the Brazilian-led U.N.

force of 7,400 has lacked the capability or willpower to disarm
the thugs. It has never reached its mandated strength, and until
recently its commander equated the use of force with
"repression" and refused to employ it. Last month it finally
launched a couple of raids on armed gangs, taking and inflicting
several casualties. But few Haitians believe that the U.N. force or the national police, who number just 4,000 and
are themselves infiltrated by criminals, will be able to restore

  U.S. disengagement has contributed to a similar lack of
progress on the political front. The interim government of Prime
Minister Gerard Latortue has been aggressive in rounding up and
jailing, usually without charge, former officials of the
Aristide government, but it has done little to forge the
political climate that will be needed to hold successful
legislative and presidential elections later this year. The U.N.
special representative in the country is a Chilean diplomat with
little influence over the country's feuding political forces.
Administration officials boast of the $230 million in aid they
say has been provided to Haiti in the last year; but when
Congress recently considered a trade measure that could have
created tens of thousands of desperately needed textile jobs,
the administration stood by while a couple of Republican senators blocked it.

  Some policymakers appear to be slowly awakening to the
possibility that Haiti is once again headed toward catastrophe.
France recently sponsored a new pledging conference and assigned
donor governments specific projects, in the hope that this would
prompt them to deliver on their commitments. Secretary of
Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld discussed the peacekeeping mission
during visits to Argentina and Brazil, perhaps inspiring its belated show of muscle. Yet the Bush administration still
resists accepting the obvious: that deeper U.S. involvement in
Haiti is inevitable. Better that it happen sooner  --  when
there is an international force that can be bolstered, and
political solutions that can be brokered --  than later, when
the only recourse, as so often before in Haiti's history, may be
the Marines.