re AristideAn Invasion of Haiti is Averted by Accord To Restore Aristide
1993- President Clinton needed a significant foreign policy victory to boost his sagging political career, and Haiti seemed to be the “perfect opportunity” to do this.
1994- Even after a year of frenzied negotiations no tangible results were in sight and the “perfect opportunity” seemed to be turning in to yet another nightmare for the President.
However , this was not to be and President Clinton turned near defeat in to a resounding victory, with the help of former president and skilled negotiator, Jimmy Carter.
September 19, 1994- Today the threat of invasion is over and, “a society (American society) that doesn’t rest comfortably with the burdens of imperialism can breathe easy”.
American troops will enter Haiti as “peace keepers” and not as members of an invading force.
In order to arrive at a peaceful solution several concessions had to be made by U.S government negotiators and Haitian dictator, General Raoul Cedras.
1) The U.S government let General Cedras and his cohorts “save face” by allowing the military junta to step down, after their parliament passed a general amnesty for the military. If this had not happened the U.S government would have had to oust the ruling party by using force, and this would have made the junta look bad.
2) The U.S agreed to lift the economic sanctions imposed on Haiti as soon as possible.
3) The U.S also dropped it’s insistence that General Cedras and two of his military commanders leave the country.
On it’s part, the Haitian Junta agreed to hand over power to the democratically elected government of exiled Haitian leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
The key to solving this complex problem was former President, Jimmy Carter. All through the crisis, Jimmy Carter stayed in direct contact with General Cedras, who he had come to know well while acting as an independent election- observer during the Haitian elections in 1993. Carter knew the situation on the ground and offered to act as a go-between. However, White House officials declined his offer initially. This was partly because they were upset that Carter had publicly disagreed with some of the current administration’s policies as regards North Korea.
When negotiations between the U.S and the Haitian government broke down, President Clinton went on national television and announced that United States armed forces would soon invade Haiti. This move wasn’t aimed at ending negotiations but at making a last ditch attempt to arrive at a peaceful solution. The ploy worked and a worried General Cedras indicated that he was still willing to negotiate. At this point, Clinton could have refused to talk and gone ahead with the invasion but, he kept the channels of communication open and played his trump card. He brought in Jimmy Carter who he knew Cedras respected. Cedras, who might have been uncomfortable with some of the other U.S negotiators would at-least be willing to hear Mr. Carter out, if not as an envoy of the U.S government perhaps as a personal friend. This approach worked , Cedras realized the futility of opposing the army of the strongest nation in the world and agreed to step down of his own accord, setting the conditions mentioned earlier.
It was important that at no point did President Clinton say he wasn’t willing to negotiate. Even when he announced the impending invasion he did not say that he was shutting down the channels of communication. General Cedras on his part was open minded and was at least willing to listen to what President Clinton’s envoys had to say even after the President announced plans of the invasion. If Cedras was not interested in negotiating, he would have shut down his borders and refused to receive President Clintons envoys.
In the end, all parties came out winners. The United States managed to remove the Junta, General Cedras stepped down from power on his own terms, the people of Haiti got peace and President Aristide was restored to power.
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