The UPI says the Canadian government is considering sending troops to Haiti whose current President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is on the verge of fleeing the country.
Canadian officials were reportedly close Saturday to sending hundreds of troops to Haiti as part of an international stabilization force. The Toronto Globe and Mail said Prime Minister Paul Martin spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Friday, as Martin worked to help build an international consensus aimed at resolving the crisis. "He's been personally taking a hand in this," an official said.
Consideration of sending a significant number of troops would depend on the makeup of an international force and the ability of the Canadian Forces to pull together a contingent on short notice. "Potentially, hundreds could go," the unidentified government spokesman told the newspaper. "But it would depend on the need there. "It's going to be a challenge, without question."
Although the US 24th MEU is potentially able to intervene there are no firm indications that US deployments are contemplated. On the contrary, it is widely believed that Washington has soured on trying to affect the outcomes in the chaotic nation. However the imminent collapse of the Aristide government and the lack of any significant force projection capability by United Nations "peacekeepers", including Canada, may force American participation as a matter of necessity. Underarmed and historically helpless UN personnel even when reinforced by Canadians may only add their numbers to the civilian bargaining counters which the belligerents will use as their chief foreign policy tool. Aristide has already raised the specter of sending a flood of refugees onto the waves or across the border into the Dominican Republic. Rebel leader Guy Philippe, himself a thug of some accomplishment, will doubtless do the same -- after looting everything that isn't nailed down.
The absence of military capability means that even if the Canadians could hold their own within a defensive perimeter, they would lack the muscle to prevent depredations in Haiti's interior. Other UN troops are likely to be in much worse case. This would lead under the traditionally timid UN doctrines to the adoption of a largely symbolic peacekeeping posture with a few UN garrisons in Port Au Prince and anarchy everywhere else. The UN mission in the Congo is a stellar example of this kind of Potemkin peacekeeping, where the Blue Helmets hold nothing but the airport and a nearby base while cannibal rebels roam the rest of the country pursuing hapless civilians to the very gates of the UN compound.
Any American involvement should come with strict conditions. The foremost should be an insistence on an active pacification strategy by UN and especially Canadian forces. Experience in the Global War on Terror and in fighting narco-terrorists in Latin America suggests that civil society can never emerge unless the backbone of thuggery is broken. In the context of Haiti this means an aggressive pursuit of warlords, looters and criminal elements that have reduced that country to a shambles. The Canadians should forthwith embark on an intensive intelligence operation to discover the most dangerous elements threatening orderly society and issue their equivalent of a Most Wanted Deck of Cards. Thereafter, the Canadians must simultaneously hunt these men down while rebuilding the Haitian police and judiciary. Only by employing these methods will Haiti and Haitians have any chance of regaining normal life.
If these conditions are met, the United States can provide any reasonable assistance the Canadian forces require. Although competent, the Canadians lack fire support and logistical lift, aerial surveillance assets and specialized equipment. The American assignment of amphibious lift, helicopter gunships and AC-130s should go far toward making the Canadians are really potent force capable of fulfilling the role of the great nation that they are, if only they could recollect it. But not a single American ship nor a single airlifter should be used to support a moronic UN operation whose sole utility is to hold a few acres of symbolic ground in the port while the Haitians suffer outside the range of the public relations cameras.