Haiti: January 2, 2005


The government has been unable to destroy the dozens of armed gangs that control towns and neighborhoods throughout the country. The gangs are pro-Aristide, pro-Army or just out for themselves. A popular idea among the people is the establishment of a UN protectorate. In other words, a decade or more of colonial rule. There are still fond memories of this sort of thing 70 years ago, when the US Marines ran the country for over a decade. In the 1930s the marines were withdrawn, partly because the US could not afford to run Haiti any more, and partly because it was thought Haitians could do it themselves. But the country soon fell under the rule of another series of corrupt dictators, leading to the current situation. The idea of a UN protectorate was also popular in Somalia, and several other African countries. The problem is, running a protectorate is expensive, and no one wants to pay for it. There's also the bad PR, with accusations of "colonialism" and all that it implies. But with the threat of Islamic radicals setting up camps in parts of the world that are unable to govern themselves, there is interest in getting some kind of government operating in places like Haiti.  Colonialism was always a losing proposition, financially, which was one of the reasons it was largely abandoned after World War II. 


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