By Max A. Joseph
Haiti is at an “important juncture” in the consolidation of stability and democracy, the UN Security Council has decided. On Oct. 14, the self-styled Lord Protector of all living species extended the mandate of the Minustah (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) for another year; although by the Council’s own standard, democracy is to be cherished and defended, not practiced.
Resolution 2180, adopted without the input of representatives of Haiti’s civil societies, the government or the opposition, was a mere formality. The whole session lasted only 25 minutes, even though the matter is of utmost importance to the millions of Haitians living under the decade-long U.N occupation. Shockingly, the mandate, unwarranted and illegal under the UN Charter, remains a non-issue within Haiti’s political establishment whose primary concern has always been self-preservation.
The renewal of the infamous mandate came days before the 208th anniversary of the shameless assassination of Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti’s founding father, by the same forces that aided and abetted the current occupation of the country. It is as if the shameful event of Oct. 17, 1806 is being repeated over and over to reinforce a point that the international community sees as having been lost on Haitians. It was not by happenstance that the occupation of Haiti, which has been in the offing since the 1960s, coincided with the bi-centennial of its rejection of slavery and white supremacy in 1804.
By virtue of its strategic location in the Caribbean Sea, exceptional origin, and wretched economic conditions, which earned it the unenviable status of “poorest country of the Western hemisphere; Haiti remains a major factor in the international arena, and will always be an object of desire, resentment and loathing. Aptly, Haiti’s weaknesses could be converted into strength, as 12 million impoverished Haitians cannot be made to disappear, nor the ecologically exhausted and overpopulated island towed to another location.
What the country presently needs is ingenious leaders that can take advantage of this delicate situation and make it work to the benefits of its people. Sadly, the political establishment, accustomed to being led and told what is best for Haiti, remains oblivious of this extraordinary game-changing option.
Notwithstanding the thousands of dead Haitians under the occupation, the implication being that ten years into “the mandate,” the political favors and billions promised in backroom deals among its architects and troop-contributing nations, the UN Security Council still considers Haitians a threat to world peace.
In light of this obviously racist and paternalistic decision and the noted indifference of the political establishment, has Haiti’s membership in the UN become a burden that Haitians can no longer afford? Because the cost-benefit analysis of being a member of the UN is disproportionate and detrimental for small countries like Haiti, the subject should be thoroughly debated and ultimately decided by a referendum.
A by-product of a murderous war started by European powers vying for supremacy, the UN has become the epitome of what it was set up, in theory, to eradicate: the predatory behavior of powerful entities which spanned the entire history of humanity. Hence any small country’s continued membership in such organization, whose scope and power surpass anything the world has ever seen or experienced, amounts to voluntary servitude. Must Haiti, a nation founded on the inspiring principle of “resistance to oppression,” abandon its raison d’être and comply with this unsettling geopolitical reality?
Because of the seemingly indispensable role of UN apparatus such as the IMF and the World Bank in the lives of the world’s inhabitants, extricating a nation from the grid is a daunting undertaking. Nevertheless, the law of unintended consequences makes it an achievable one, as the excesses of the UN Security Council continue to alienate everyone except its permanent members. Presently the organization credibility is at an all-time low; its Charter has lost much of its appeals, if not relevancy, and many nations would like nothing more than its dissolution as a vestige of an archaic geopolitical Order.
Nothing in the UN Charter prevents a member-state from leaving the organization specially if is done to accommodate the will of its people. Haiti preceded the UN by 141 years and, during that period, survived some of the worst punishments ever meted out to defenseless countries by predatory powers: i.e. economic embargoes, naval blockades, military invasions, fomented insurrections, cultural genocide, extortion, and imposition of foreign customs on its people. Hence the notion of the UN engaging in nation-building in Haiti is at best pretentious and illusionary. Most importantly, what else can the predatory powers/UNSC possibly do to Haiti that would be a worse alternative to the nightmare Haitians are actually experiencing?
As I reflect on the troop-contributing nations helping the UNSC in this unlawful endeavor, the words of an anti-Nazi clergyman, Martin Niemoller (1892-1984), came to mind.
“First they (the Nazis) came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”
These gullible nations might be unaware of Niemoller quote, but they would one day come up with a similar conclusion.