Eyewitness to Chaos: Personal Accounts of the Intervention in Haiti, 1994

Eyewitness to Chaos: Personal Accounts of the Intervention in Haiti, 1994

Eyewitness to Chaos: Personal Accounts of the Intervention in Haiti, 1994

Eyewitness to Chaos: Personal Accounts of the Intervention in Haiti, 1994

Synopsis

In September 1994 a large U.S. invasion force converged on Haiti. Years of diplomatic efforts, secret government planning, and military rehearsals on the parts of the United States and the United Nations had failed to restore to office Haiti's democratically elected, junta-deposed president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and now invasion was imminent. Poised for action and mere minutes from striking, President Bill Clinton stunned military commanders when he announced a drastic change of plan: a peaceful cooperation with an illegal government.

In Eyewitness to Chaos Walter E. Kretchik retells the experience of this unprecedented and convoluted operation through the voices of its participants. Synthesizing accounts from a cross section of military officials, Kretchik unveils the little-known inner workings of government and military planning and the real-world quandaries of operational execution faced by those involved. The thirty-seven interviewees provide insight into the many facets of the operation: strategic and operational planning; intelligence gathering; multinational force design; medical and legal complications; communication concerns; contracting and logistics; ethnic, cultural, and historical considerations; mission execution; and language barriers. What emerges is a new perspective on this attempt to secure a brighter future for Haiti's people.

Excerpt

From September 19, 1994, to March 31, 1995, the U.S. government intervened militarily in Haiti. Conducted under un Security Council Resolution 940 and Chapter vii of the un Charter, Operation Uphold Democracy was the most convoluted military invasion in American history. Due to former president Jimmy Carter’s successful last-minute negotiations with an illegal junta, President William J. Clinton turned around about one hundred aircraft and airborne troops twenty minutes before hostilities were set to commence. Commanders and their units then prepared to enter the country peacefully, scrambling to switch from a war mentality to a peacekeeping mind-set overnight. Operational disorder ensued for weeks even as thousands of multinational forces and numerous agencies entered the country to advise and support Haiti’s fledgling democratic government. With mission handover to the United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH) on March 31, 1995, many U.S. troops departed while others donned blue berets to serve under un command. For fifteen months, unmih troops, 40 percent of them from the United States, assisted Haitians and their government in furthering democracy before mission transfer to yet another un force, the United Nations Support Mission in Haiti (UNSMIH).

The 1994 U.S.-led military intervention also allowed the U.S. Army major and Haitian American Anthony “Tony” Ladouceur to return to his native country. in 1967 Ladouceur left Haiti to spend his teenage years with relatives in New York City while his businessman father remained in Port-au-Prince. American citizenship and an army enlistment led to a commission through officer candidate school. As a cultural advisor and translator for the . . .

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