A Stark Choice for America

A Stark Choice for America

The United States faces unpalatable or unpromising options when it comes to helping Haiti.

By James B. Foley for The Atlantic

The shocking assassination of Haiti’s president, Jovenel Moïse, raises urgent questions about the country’s future and has serious implications for the United States. As Haiti descends further into chaos, we need to have a realistic understanding of its long history of political turmoil, to better grasp the situation it finds itself in.

Of all the things we must grapple with, none is more important than this: The options facing Washington and the international community when it comes to helping bring stability and some measure of development to Haiti are unpromising or unpalatable. We should therefore focus on what is actually achievable in the face of Haitian realities and constrained U.S. capabilities.

There is no question that foreign powers bear responsibility for the root causes of many of Haiti’s contemporary ills: From the country’s brutal history as a slave colony of France, to its being saddled by France with a crushing indemnity, and treated as a pariah by the U.S. for much of the 19th century. In such circumstances, it is no wonder that Haiti failed to develop functioning government institutions and the rule of law.Continue reading

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