Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Haiti a Far Cry from Grenada

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Haiti a Far Cry from Grenada

Article excerpt

President Bill Clinton has compared his greatest foreign policy triumph to the 1983 action in Grenada. That's interesting because members of his party and many liberal media commentators ridiculed Ronald Reagan's successful effort to rescue American medical students and Grenadans from the clutches of disciples of Fidel Castro and communism. Critics faulted President Ronald Reagan for sending "too many" troops into a tiny nation for such a small job.

If Grenada is the standard, a brief review of history will help us judge the eventual success or failure of the Clinton-Carter-Nunn-Powell effort in Haiti.

Following a military coup in Grenada in mid-October 1983, the Reagan administration wasted no time in responding. On Oct. 25, Reagan ordered troops into Grenada with support from members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Troops were withdrawn by mid-December. The leader of the coup, Gen. Hudson Austin, was arrested, and the Cubans were sent packing.

Nicholas Braithwaite led a 13-month interim government until general elections were held in December 1984. Herbert Blaize of the New National Party served as prime minister until his death in December 1989. Following inconclusive general elections in March 1990, Braithwaite again became Grenada's prime minister. The country has had no more turmoil. Grenadans erected a statue of Reagan in the public square.

If the Clinton administration approximates the success of the Grenada operation, it will deserve the accolades it is prematurely receiving from some circles and the back-pats it is giving itself. But there are serious reservations about how our occupation of Haiti will turn out.

Grenada's political and social history, like our own, was strongly influenced by the British, who claimed it as part of their empire from 1762 until 1967, when it was given its independence. Unlike Haiti, Grenada had instruction in parliamentary rule and the traditions of English Common Law.

Haiti's history has been violent and turbulent - whiplashed by French and Spanish forces and by the horrors of the slave trade. It has had little experience in government of the people, but much experience with assassinations, dictatorships and a strange religion known as voodoo. …

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