[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]


The crisis in Haiti has so far taken 100 lives, total collapse of civil administration, no law and order situation, complete anarchy, roaming wild vigilantly squads on the streets here and there and, at the end, the silent “spectators” of the world witnessed the flee of the President Aristide to an undeclared destination in the morning hours of Sunday, February 29, 2004. The question arises who is responsible for this human tragedy? Why the condition in Haiti was allowed to be deteriorated to such an extreme? Why the democracy in Haiti was not protected in time? Why a free state in the western hemisphere was not given full protection right at the very outset where the USA is dominantly prevailing and is the declared champion of the people and the governments of the area?


The answer is very simple but meaningful. The USA has neither the will nor the requisite capacity or “military” muscles or the men in arms to look after or take care for the “third” or “another” troubled spot on the surface of the earth. It has already thinned out its resources in men and material by being brutally “bogged” down in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Korean Peninsula. It has no man power left even to replace the “tired” fighting armed men in Iraq, what to say of opening another front in Haiti. It would have required at least an army division to fight lawlessness in Haiti and reestablish democracy.  President Clinton had to send an army of 20,000 men to Haiti to restore law and order and Aristide back in power in 1955.  President Bush has no extra armed forces now left with him to come to the rescue of a sister country in the region. To “save” his face, he blames Aristide for the mishap as he has no choice but to repent for his “follies” in Asia, especially in the Middle East.


It is time that America thinks about its engagements on the foreign soil of Asia, Europe and Latin America. It has already thinned out its military strength by spreading its air, land and naval forces at strategic points around the world. Paul Kennedy, the famous historian of Yale terms it as “imperial overstretch” in his famous book: “The Rise And Fall of The Great Powers” [published by Vintage Books in 1987] and then writes, “decision makers in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the sum total of the United States’ global interests and obligations is nowadays far larger than the country’s power to defend them all simultaneously.” This he wrote in 1987 and today it is 2004 when the USA has “nothing” left to protect the happenings in its own corridor and backyard. A “commander-in-chief” whose men are scattered around the world, cannot give retrieve to his exhausted men in arms, finds faults with someone else when another calamity falls, in fact, has no validity to be remained as “C-in-C”. The Congress should look into this national “tragedy” and better remove him from his onerous responsibilities. The sooner it is done, the better it would be for the country.  


The military “adventures” of the USA in Afghanistan and Iraq has brought her to the brim of its capacity. It cannot stretch anymore. The USA has simultaneously antagonized the dominant countries of the EU that could come to its help and is causing continuous “irritation” to China by giving very often its tacit approval to “independent” designs of Taipei. It was but natural for the USA to take hands off from the happenings in Haiti and transfer the “buck” on Aristide, hiding its own “shortages” in diplomatic words like the ostrich that seeks refuge in the sand where its “size and image” tells where it stands. God forbid, if anything happens elsewhere in the present context of the world on the pattern of Haiti, America will have no choice but to cut a sorry figure as it has done today. It exposes the vulnerability of the USA in its commitment to make the world “safer” and defending, trade routes and economic interests in around the five continents of the globe. There is no reason why the “disruptive” forces and anti-American die-hards will not take the advantage of this “delicate” military situation of America and turn it into their favor in the countries or regions of their choice. If it happens so, people sitting in the White House will have no choice but to repent again as they have just done in the case of Haiti. If today’s situation repeats and it is likely to repeat, none of us should feel “astonished.”



Shamim A Siddiqi

February 29, 2004