Jean de la Fontaine, the 17th century French poet and fabulist, was correct when he wrote “La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure” to which a rough English translation will be “Might makes right”, which is why nations that continually wage wars of conquest fare better than others. They are more organized socially, economically and politically which suggests that hegemonic wars may not be bad after all, and history can attest to that. Moreover and undoubtedly, wars of conquest are indispensable to the survival of nations, as the laws of the jungle that govern the animal world are no different than those to which humans have to live by.
Sun Tzu, the Chinese military commander and strategist (544-496 BC), would have agree with this assessment “If a small country does not assess its power and dares to become the enemy of a large country, no matter how firm its defenses be, it will inevitably become a captive nation” he declared. Indeed, size does not really matter, as long as the warring nation sees itself under siege and considers wars of conquest vital to its own survival. The British have proved it, as were the Athenians and the Romans before them.
Juxtaposing Sun Tzu’s theory to colonialism and today’s neocolonialism, even large countries, without might, can become captive nations. Britain’s control of India (1757-1949) is a foremost example of inevitable domination of a large country that disregarded Sun Tzu’s dictum. Considering Haiti’s deplorable situation two centuries after its epic victory over colonialism and its most egregious feature, namely slavery, it is fair to conclude that Haitian leaders’ disregard for Sun Tzu’s dictum is to blame. Many may find this analysis presumptuous, but I differ because it is precisely the failure of Haitian leaders to transform Haiti into a belligerent and warring nation that ultimately sealed its fate as a captive nation.
The one particular event associated with Haiti becoming a captive nation was the July 11, 1825 capitulation to France’s ultimatum to invade the country and restore slavery unless the Haitian government agreed to compensate France to the tune of 150 millions of gold francs for recognition of its independence. An analogy to the absurd episode would be Germany asking the State of Israel for monetary compensations for the Holocaust in exchange for official recognition. In agreeing to France’s nonsense, Jean Pierre Boyer, the then-president of Haiti (1818-43), may have been motivated by his consummate hatred for the black majority. Or, given that France has a history of capitulating before a superior enemy, Boyer, being the son of a Frenchman, could have inherited this defeatist French peculiarity. A former lieutenant of André Rigaud, the mulatto leader who had wanted to restore French rule in Haiti but was defeated by Toussaint Louverture in 1801, Boyer had essentially committed the ultimate act of treason.
From that point on, Haiti’s independence slowly withered away under recurring threats of military invasions by opportunist powers and the weight of the exorbitant sum, which it was forced to borrow from French and US banks. Had Boyer chosen to fight, even with the possibility of slavery being restored in Haiti, history would have taken a different course. This episode validates Sun Tzu’s theory of planning under siege: “If you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” The vindictive and extortionist French could not have restored slavery in Haiti, even if they wanted to, since the recently emancipated inhabitants of the newly created country would have fought them to the last man and woman.
Subsequent to that infamy, Haiti lost its raison d’être and put itself at the mercy of enemies that never intended to show mercy to the impertinent Negroes of the “Terrible republic”, quoting Thomas Jefferson. Sure enough, France’s cowardly action, backed by 14 warships, further impoverished Haiti, which had to allocate 80% of its annual revenues to finance the debt it incurred by capitulating to king Charles X’s extortionist scheme. Naturally, the infamous episode provoked penuries, social disorders and political instability, which ultimately resulted in Haiti being invaded by US marines on July 28, 1915 on behalf of the lenders. To date, the July 11, 1825 abomination remains the only instance in the history of the world in which a victor was forced to compensate the vanquished.
Boyer’s apparent treachery was to be repeated in the year of Haiti’s bicentennial, when an influential group of mulatto families, incensed over the growing political power of the black majority, aided and abetted the occupation of Haiti by US and French forces on February 29, 2004. Basically, the ongoing occupation (2004-?) nullifies whatever was achieved by our ancestors; a new purpose is therefore needed to avert a greater calamity. The societal dysfunction that facilitated its re-colonization notwithstanding, Haiti also faces a probable ecological disaster (overpopulation and desertification) that may render most of its territory inhabitable. Overcoming these odds requires a sense of purpose that includes our inalienable right to recover lost territories and self-determination.
Despite the malevolence of some of its sons and daughters, Haiti simply cannot accept its current fate, even in the face of impossible odds. Peace, the most elusive of human’s aspirations, naturally depends on violence, as is enforcing the rule of law or assuring the survival of a country; anyone disagreeing with this premise is either naïve or irrational in his or her thinking.
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