Biden and Haiti – Cause and Effect

Posted on Tuesday, September 28, 2021
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles
president biden sitting at table, amidst afghanistan attacks

Cause and effect work in diplomacy, as they do in physics. Prior to the July 2021 assassination of Haiti’s president and the August 2021 earthquake, Haiti struggled. While facing endemic poverty, corruption, and agitation, stability was possible. After these events, Haiti sought American help. Biden did nothing. Haitians now flood our border. Biden failed – again.

To understand Haiti, context is vital. Everyone from Jimmy Carter and Colin Powell to Obama and Trump have – grousing aside – tried to help Haiti. Haiti has unique problems, from geography to public health and safety. Still, progress was being made with backsteps.

A terrible earthquake in 2010 set the country back, but successive administrations helped. This includes forward-leaning efforts during the Trump years. By 2019, trade preferences had Haiti’s economy clawing back. As the US economy surged under Trump, industries like apparel –90 percent of Haiti’s exports – were thriving. In that year, the industry boasted 50,000 jobs.

Likewise, while political issues created turbulence, other highwater marks were recorded. Haiti recorded zero cholera cases, hope rose with 27,000 new jobs from “private sector competitiveness” effort, and while security was a concern, political outmigration was no higher than normal.

Then came the devastating assassination of Haiti’s president in July of this year. That is what an insurrection looks like. It was horrific and turned the nation upside down.

As a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, whose job focused on unstable regions, some principles resonate. Without security – including law enforcement – stability slips. Without stability, civil societies do not work, no investment, rising fear, and lawlessness.

In July, the proverbial writing was on the wall. Haiti needed immediate support. How? As with past instability, they needed US troops, directly or under UN command. That, we know, works. Biden did nothing. Secretary of Defense and State Austin and Blinken did nothing.

A weak branch can bear a heavy bird, but two birds will often break the branch. They did. In August, a devastating earthquake hit. While we responded, slowly – no security support.

While humanitarian aid is useful, recall the principles: No security, no stability. No stability, civil societies do not work – crime, fear, lawlessness, lack of hope follow. They did in Haiti.

Mr. Biden was preoccupied with fleeing Afghanistan, no time for little Haiti. Of course, in retrospect, maybe Haiti is better off without his attention. That said a self-stoking disaster.

Once Biden’s indifference was obvious, security nowhere, people hoping to save their lives fled. Unlike in Afghanistan, where the Taliban hold Americans and allies, Haiti had a backdoor – Mexico.

So, Biden’s indifference to Haiti’s security needs, preoccupation with Afghanistan, and on-again, off-again cogency left Haitians with a simple choice – face insufferable conditions or get out.

Not only did they leave, but last week the US Ambassador, appointed by Biden, followed them. In protest of Biden’s failed foreign policy, which has now included a strange combination of deporting Haitians back to a lawless country and pushing 15,000 of them into America’s Heartland, Ambassador Daniel Foote – whom I respect – left.

This tragedy was preventable. The 30,000 Haitians on US soil who should never have been here, and which Mr. Biden could easily have encouraged to stay in Haiti by paying attention to what Trump, Obama, Bush 43, Clinton, and Bush 41 had done – fled because they had no security.

Reality: We reap as we sow. Biden is doing that now. Cause and effect work in diplomacy, as in physics. If Biden were cognitively engaged in July, this would not have happened.

A real insurrection occurred in Haiti, and it left the president dead, the first lady in the hospital, nation in disarray. Instability was predictable, making security essential. The August earthquake iced the cake, forced a vital reaction – security assistance – only Biden stumbled, missed that.

If you get down to it, this is why we are now awash in COVID-untested Haitians, terrified to go home. Some combination of security assistance, deportations tied to security, and immediate humanitarian aid remain vital. Words are cheap. Action is real. Biden continues failing.

Like in Afghanistan, Biden failed miserably in Haiti, misread events, and caused calamity. It seems he did not care or is not all there. Foresight, planning, and courage are among his deficits.

Failures in foreign and domestic policy are becoming Biden’s hallmark. But he is good at the podium pivot and probably basement darts; maybe that is why he goes to Delaware every weekend and is never in DC. The less he knows, the less he does – cause and effect.