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Gringos out of Haiti!?

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The imperial project to conquer, occupy, and annex Haiti seems to have hit a snag:

“Haiti, for all intents and purposes, became the 51st state at 4:53 p.m. Tuesday in the wake of its deadly earthquake,” noted Time magazine. “The U.S. military effort alone will soon have 33,000 troops ashore or in direct support of the relief operations,” predicted the Weekly Standard. Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, said he was watching to see if there might be an impact on operations in Central Asia and the Middle East.

That didn’t happen. In a bloggers roundtable this week, Army Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, the head of Joint Task Force Haiti, said that only 850 servicemembers were left on the ground in Haiti. And the military task force there, he added, will dissolve at the end of this month.

“We will actually stand down the Joint Task Force on the 1st of June,” he said. “That is when I will take the last elements of United States Army South home and send those sister services personnel back to their home stations.”

What will remain behind: A U.S. Southern Command coordination cell, about eight people in total. They’ll stay on in Port-au-Prince to coordinate with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the lead U.S. government agency for the reconstruction effort. They’ll also help set up an upcoming exercise called New Horizons. It’ll involve about 500 soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard and other units, rotating in and out until the end of September.

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  • Not that I think the US used their earthquake laser on Haiti (we used it on Iran, obvi), but “boots on the ground” is a particularly bad way to determine whether or not “imperialism” is happening. The best imperialists always find ways to get what they want while using their expensive soldiers as little as possible (see for example, “gunboat diplomacy” in “British imperialism in Latin America in the 19th century” and “American imperialism in Latin America in the 20th century”). If you’re occupying a country, ur doing it wrong. The US controlled Cuba via the Platt amendment, after all, not permanent occupation by the rough riders.

  • DocAmazing

    Given our appalling history in Haiti and the region at large, and given our current warmaking, I’m quite certain that an enormous sigh of relief will be heard throughout the Caribbean Basin upon the withdrawal of the last Marine.

  • To be clear, my point isn’t that Chavez is or isn’t right, it’s that when you take his dumb terms seriously (even to make fun of him), you essentially cede the argument to him.

    The point is that an “imperialism” understood in terms of military occupation is just not what’s at issue here. After all, the soldiers may have left, but the question is in whose interest the “Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti,” headed by Bill Clinton and banked by the IMF, is running Haiti. People who think the US is using the crisis to restructure Haiti for their own self-interest think (and have at least very good reasons to be suspicious) that they’re doing it using those kinds of means, not boots on the ground. And when you act as if the presence or absence of American troops is or isn’t significant, you do absolutely nothing to persuade, for example, the rest of Latin America (but also Americans who are inclined to think the worst of US foreign policy) that the US isn’t up to no good. And DocAmazing is right, I think, that the burden really is on the US in this department.

  • MkeN

    Can anyone seriously doubt that the most-favored US policy toward Haiti, if pssible, would be to

    A) hitch up a couple of aircraft carriers
    B) drag it across the Atlantic to the Bight of
    Benin
    C) leave it there.

    Barring that, they’d like to spend the least possible time, money or attention on it.

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