Sunday, January 29, 2006

The NYT buries the (political) lede

NYT today:

But in a recent interview, Otto J. Reich, who served under Mr. Powell as the State Department's top official on Latin America, said that a subtle shift in policy away from Mr. Aristide had taken place after Mr. Bush became president — as Mr. Curran and others had suspected.

"There was a change in policy that was perhaps not well perceived by some people in the embassy," Mr. Reich said, referring to Mr. Curran. "We wanted to change, to give the Haitians an opportunity to choose a democratic leader," said Mr. Reich, one of a group of newly ascendant policy makers who feared the rise of leftist governments in Latin America.

Told of that statement, Mr. Curran said, "That Reich would admit that a different policy was in effect totally vindicates my suspicions, as well as confirms what an amateur crowd was in charge in Washington."
I have been following, fitfully, the condition of Haiti on DemocracyNow! This NYT article is quite long, but I can't yet say it is comprehensive, nor even why President Aristide (identified in the article so far only as "a former Roman Catholic priest who rose to power as the champion and hero of Haiti's poor") was not a "democratic leader."

Of course, I suspect he was "undemocratic" in the way that Arcbishop Romero was a threat to the government of El Salvador.

And I suppose it will amaze few here that the Administration is being openly condemned as "amateur."

But I woke up noticing a common trend: the Canadian government abruptly changed hands, largely on charges of wide-spread corruption by the party in power. Hamas, NPR was reporting this morning, rose on largely the same terms, that Fatah was too corrupt to govern any longer. From the outside, we can imagine all kinds of reasons for political upsets, all of them connected to our concerns, which is seldom correct. Tip O'Neill was right: all politics is local.
And one thing functioning democracies tend to abhor is corruption. They may seem to move slowly about it, but like the slow grinding mills of God, they srub it down to the ground. This article is, in that sense at least, one more indication that the reign of the GOP is over.

How much damage is done to the world remains to be seen, and that's the real thrust and interest of this article. At this point, at least, we do know this much:

Several months later, the rebels marched on Port-au-Prince and Mr. Aristide left Haiti on a plane provided by the American government. Since then, Haiti has become even more chaotic, said Marc L. Bazin, an elder statesman of Haitian politics.

"I was suspicious that it would not be good," Mr. Bazin said. "But that bad — no."

Added Mr. Einaudi, "Building democracy in Haiti now is going to take a very long time."

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