Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Should Use Force to Return Aristide to Haiti

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Clinton Should Use Force to Return Aristide to Haiti

Article excerpt

IT'S good that President Clinton has at last decided to allow refugees fleeing the terror in Haiti at least one fair hearing before United States immigration officers decide whether or not to return them to Haiti. But that still deals with only a tiny part of the problems in American-Haitian relations.

The big question is what the administration will decide to do if the military goons who hijacked that country three years ago don't meet the next United Nations-imposed deadline in mid-May for the return of the lawfully elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Mr. Clinton should commit his administration wholeheartedly to the speedy reinstatement of President Aristide. And yes, by force if necessary. The shilly-shallying and the constant appeasement of the renegade generals that marked Clinton's first 15 months in office have achieved nothing. They resulted in a far, far worse situation for democrats and human rights activists inside Haiti. And they have contributed strongly to the image of Clinton as a weak and bumbling ditherer in world affairs.

In his election campaign, Clinton quite correctly promised that his administration would give more support to President Aristide and would end the heartless (and illegal) policy of forcibly repatriating Haitian refugees intercepted at sea. Once in power, he forgot those promises. He kept the repatriation policy, maintaining President Bush's active appeasement of the generals in Port-au-Prince.

Then last October, when the generals thumbed their noses at American power by sending a ragtag mob of 200 protesters to "threaten" the US Navy vessel taking Canadian and American police trainers to Haiti, Clinton ordered the boat turned back.

If the president had hung tough that day, there was a good chance that the will of the international organizations that were sending the trainers could have prevailed. The crisis might have been resolved without much further bloodshed.

As it was, the moment the boat turned around, the pogroms against democrats, human rights monitors, and Aristide supporters inside Haiti intensified. But Clinton's diplomats continued inexplicably to demand political concessions from Aristide! …

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