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He Said, He Said

There seem to be two sides to the story in regards to Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s departure from Haiti this weekend. Aristide is claiming that the United States participated in a coup d’etat by “kidnapping” him and taking him out of the country. Supposedly he was wisked onto a plane headed for an unknown destination and kept onboard without any ability to communicate with the outside world or even open the window shades. According to his lawyer and Deborah Norville, who had both spoken with him immediately prior to his evacuation, there was no indication he was intending to leave.

Today, VP Dick Cheney said, “He made the choice to leave. He resigned the office of his own free will and left on a civilian aircraft which we chartered for him. He left with his security detail. This was his decision to go.” State department officials are claiming, “There were strong indications that he was packing his bags for several days before this.”

Like much of the Bush administration policy, it's a matter of semantics. While they may not have physically restrained him and carried him onto ther plane, as Senator Chris Dodd recounted, "The fact of the matter is, we said to President Aristide: Look, you can you stay and be killed or you can leave; you make the choice. That's hardly a voluntary departure."

Less than 24 hours later, hundreds of Marines poured into Haiti. These same troops could have been used to protect the democratically-elected Aristide had the administration chosen to do so, suggesting that the were going to choose to let him be killed were he to remain in Haiti. Now if this isn't a clear case of forcing regime change under less than democratic means, I don't know what is.

Clearly, Aristide was failing his country as leader and probably needed to be removed from power. But was withholding protection and then giving him an "exile or death" ultimatum the right way to deal with the issue? Or should we have brokered talked between Aristide and the rebel leaders like we've been doing with the Israelis and the Palistinians?

Posted by blipsman at March 2, 2004 4:11 PM