BY CHRIS DODD
The nightly news cameras may have left, but the human suffering caused by the devastating earthquake in Haiti continues.
Hundreds of thousands of people are dead or injured. Many more are homeless or orphaned. And without sustained intervention by the international community, Haiti’s future could be very bleak indeed.
Nearly a quarter million homes — and 20,000 commercial buildings — have been destroyed, or so badly damaged that they will need to be demolished. And the earthquake, which struck just 16 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince, essentially destroyed the capacity of Haitian authorities to act.
Haiti’s education system, in the words of its minister of education, has “totally collapsed.” Transportation and communication systems have been wiped out. Finance and industry have been crippled.
There is no health care system to treat the wounded, no social services to help the displaced, and no government infrastructure left standing to bring about order out of the chaos.
The Haitian government, for all practical purposes, does not exist. It lies in ruins, in the rubble of the presidential palace, and other government buildings ranging from the Supreme Court to the National Assembly.
After the quake, the Washington Post interviewed Haitians who begged the United States to take over control of Haiti.
Haitians no longer believe that their government could do what needs to be done to save their country. Said one man: “When we tell the government we’re hungry, the government says, `We’re hungry, too.’ ”
Sadly, they may be right.
I do not believe, of course, that we should occupy Haiti. We should not take lightly the importance of sovereignty, not discount the Haitian people’s long history of enduring difficult times. But we cannot pretend that Haiti can lead its own reconstruction.
Fortunately, there is precedent for situations in which the international community must intervene to ensure that a troubled country can look forward to a brighter future.
Chapter XII of the United Nations Charter established the International Trusteeship System for the supervision of territories placed under U.N. control by agreement of the territories themselves as well as the states administering them.
The idea was not to bring about hostile takeovers of failed states, but rather to provide administrative support for countries emerging from the geopolitical reshuffling after World War II — until those countries could stand on their own two feet.
The Trusteeship System was, by all accounts, successful. And even after the program became obsolete, a form of trusteeship was used in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, and Cambodia — places where the collapse of order necessitated help from the international community to perform the basic functions of a government.
Haiti — an independent sovereign nation and a United Nations member — would not be eligible for trusteeship. But, as in those other cases, the U.N. mission can be broadened to coordinate the various international actors currently working in Haiti.
Instead of the ad-hoc system currently in place — the United States controls the airport, the United Nations controls food distribution, and other responsibilities are divided in a scattershot fashion — a form of trusteeship would allow the UN to coordinate assistance in an orderly and transparent fashion.
Other international actors could then be tasked with specific roles — ranging from security and governance to economic development and the coordination of international aid.
The goal is simple: Provide Haitians with a legitimate, functional state — one capable of managing the day-to-day tasks of government and providing security, economic stability, and social services.
This won’t work without the Haitian people and their elected leaders — it must be done with them, not to them.
Indeed, Haitian authorities have repeatedly asked the United States and the international community to provide this help, and we must answer their call in a way that allows Haiti to get back on its feet and regain control over its future.
The task of rebuilding Haiti will fall on the international community — that much is clear. And I believe we can do it most effectively if we have a coordinated strategy for our efforts.
Intervention on this scale might not be pleasant to consider, but it is what the Haitian people want — and, more importantly, it is what Haiti needs to emerge from this latest tragedy and build a new future.
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., is chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Chris Dodd was one of the people who placed Haiti in its present situation. Senator Dodd, and his teammates, imposed an illegal embargo upon this poor Caribbean nation. All embargos are illegal under terms of the OAS Charter and are specifically barred by Article 18 which insists upon the basis concept of NON-INTERVENTION with regard to dealing with member States.
Dodd was one of the ones who had earlier forced Duvalier out of Haiti, in 1986, starting the slide to oblivion. It has been downhill since then.
Dodd had an inside track with Duvalier, having dated Duvalier’s sister-in-law Chantal.
Then he derailed attempts at a Constitutional settlement in 1991 when a non-confidence vote went against Aristide in August of 1991. Had Dodd and his friends not blocked the process, an election would have been held in December, 1991 and we would not be in the disastrous mess now drowning us.
Dodd has handled his position in the Senate so well that he is facing a landswell of opposition that sees him surrender, rather than fight.
The facts is, Haiti’s government is completely and totally incapable of handling the recovery projects.
If MINUSTAH is an example of what Dodd has in mind, there is no hope at all.
We need some international business brains involved, not a bunch of endomorphic PhDs that cluster whenever the UN gets a big budget.
We also need a system of accounting, with waypoints to replace the existing practice of throwing money up in the air and not supervising its spend. The billions require a forensic control of spending as the system moves forward. In this way we can avoid, or correct mistakes before they become uncorrectable.
Haiti can be saved but it doesn’t need Chris Dodd who will soon be looking for a high-paying job with Bill Clinton’s team.