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Did Obama blunder in Haiti because he has to pay so much attention to Israel?

Middle East
on 17 Comments

I’m just back from Haiti, where I reported on the mass pro-democracy movement that has just blocked the US effort to force Haitians to accept rigged presidential elections. I saw thousands of demonstrators chant “Down with Obama” and wave “Obama Terrorist” banners — an astonishing change in a country that back in 2008 had been ecstatic over his election victory. My full article is up at The Nation.

Daily militant demonstrations forced President Michel Martelly’s government to cancel the second round of the fraudulent elections. The US has wasted $33 million on the process, and heads should roll at the State Department for the dishonest and disastrous policy, which many of us predicted months ago was doomed to fail.

Haitians have several explanations for the US failure, and I outline their views in my report. But it’s hard to believe that Barack Obama himself would have been stupid enough to approve this policy if he had known the facts.

One possible part of an explanation is that Obama has only limited time to devote to foreign affairs. He has had to dissipate his energies on coddling Israel (and the Israel lobby), and on fighting for an Iran nuclear deal that was so clearly in the American interest that Congress should have approved it unanimously. So Obama has less time for other parts of the world. “There’s no foreign leader who I’ve met with more frequently,” Obama said of the Israeli Prime Minister last November, after their make-up meeting on the heels of the Iran deal.

A few statistics: Israel has 8 million people. Haiti has 10.5 million people, and is only a 4-hour plane trip from New York. There are 42 million African Americans, many of whom are deeply concerned about Haitian people. And not just African Americans; the veteran Haiti-watcher Jonathan M. Katz reports that a survey after the 2010 killer earthquake found that more than half of all American registered voters had donated to Haiti, for a total of $1.4 billion in private donations.

But I would be surprised if over the past year the US State Department spent more than a couple of hours in total briefing Obama about Haiti. After the president sat through the endless discussions on Israel, there just wasn’t enough time.

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17 Responses

  1. Bumblebye
    January 27, 2016, 6:37 pm

    I fail to understand the need ofthe US to always exert control over Haiti. Which, since it threw off the French, has consisted of forever undermining the country, destroying any chances of success. Seems written into the deepest dna of the US govt that a black, former slave colony cannot be allowed to become successful. The machinery of govt has always preferred hardline dictators in its so called backyard, despite what elected reps may claim. Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier lasted a long time.

  2. Boomer
    January 27, 2016, 7:23 pm

    I have been suspicious about the role of the U.S. there for a long time. Much seems unclear.

  3. hophmi
    January 27, 2016, 11:22 pm

    Yes, Haiti’s in bad shape because Israel. ROTFLMFAO.

    • Emory Riddle
      January 28, 2016, 11:10 am

      How is that possible hophmi?

      Israel was the first nation to send in Doctors (along with the IDF, of course) to quake stricken Haiti in 2010.

      And most of the doctors spent nearly a whole week there. And then Israel spend years bragging about their quick and wonderful response to help the Schwartze….oops, they did not mean to let that word slip in non-Jewish company

      • hophmi
        January 28, 2016, 11:26 am

        So the great work of Israeli doctors is the reason Haiti is in bad shape. This logic gets stranger and stranger.

        “Namely, that the US government spends an inordinate amount of time dealing with Israel’s constant demands and placating them, time which could be spent more productively seeking solutions to problems in other parts of the world”

        Obama has repeatedly said that the foreign policy issue that occupies the bulk of his time is ISIS. Most of the time the Administration spends with Israelis is with Israeli intelligence officials, with whom they work on common security matters, not with Israeli political officials.

        So it’s you, Qualtrough, who is missing the point; people like you are simply misinformed and trying to create a false narrative out of whole cloth.

      • John O
        January 28, 2016, 1:45 pm

        @hophmi

        “So the great work of Israeli doctors is the reason Haiti is in bad shape. This logic gets stranger and stranger. ”

        Who said anything about Israeli doctors being the reason Haiti is in bad shape (apart from you)?

    • talknic
      January 28, 2016, 5:35 pm

      @ hophmi January 27, 2016, 11:22 pm

      ” Haiti’s in bad shape because Israel”

      If you say so

      @hophmi January 28, 2016, 11:26 am

      “So the great work of Israeli doctors is the reason Haiti is in bad shape.”

      If you say so

      ” This logic gets stranger and stranger”

      Zioidiocy has a way of doing that

    • hophmi
      January 29, 2016, 12:17 pm

      No, really. I mean, the US has been playing imperialistic games in Haiti for 200 years. But whatever happens there, it’s Israel’s fault. Remember people, it’s anti-Zionism, not antisemitism.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        January 29, 2016, 2:08 pm

        And remember hopknee, this isn’t the New York Times. Nobody cares about your lame ‘antisemitism’ jibes. But I suppose when that’s all you’ve got, it’s all you’ve got.

      • Mooser
        January 29, 2016, 2:18 pm

        Remember people, it’s anti-Zionism, not antisemitism.

        Good G-wd, “Hophmi”! What political and rhetorical genius! As long as we make Zionism all about being Jewish, nobody can criticize Zionism without being antisemitic!
        There’s simply no way to get past that, is there? And the best part is, it’s true!

      • yonah fredman
        January 30, 2016, 2:22 am

        James North is way off base with this contribution to the ether sphere. Hophmi is right on target. North has established: Nation magazine: journalism. mondoweiss: sometimes journalism, sometimes drek. in this case: dreck.

      • RoHa
        January 30, 2016, 4:35 am

        “But I suppose when that’s all you’ve got, it’s all you’ve got. ”

        As I’ve said before, Hophmi is all chip and no shoulder.

  4. Qualtrough
    January 28, 2016, 9:44 am

    Leave it to Hophmi to once again entirely miss the point. Namely, that the US government spends an inordinate amount of time dealing with Israel’s constant demands and placating them, time which could be spent more productively seeking solutions to problems in other parts of the world. Here’s an analogy that Hophmi might understand: It’s like a kindergarten with one brat acting up and taking up all the teacher’s time so that the other kids get less help and attention than they should. Actually, a better analogy would be a kindergarten in which the teacher has to deal with a brat who periodically kills some of his classmates.

    • DaBakr
      January 29, 2016, 1:15 pm

      @q

      hop did not miss the point at all. the article is absolutely suggesting that the obamas failure on haiti is because of israel. its ridiculous on the surface, paranoid, and childish. it is more like the ‘butterfly effect’ theory then anything close to true journalism. -obama was so outraged at netanyahu he couldn’t think straight about haiti- that is the premise of this piece. hopefully-the full piece at TheNation is not dedicated solely to foolish zionist-hating assumptions

  5. yourstruly
    January 28, 2016, 4:06 pm

    The U.S. has been interfering in the internal affairs of Haiti for at least two centuries now. Initially said interference had to do with slaveowner fear that a successful revolution in Haiti might inspire African slaves in America to seek their own freedom. More recently what drives U.S. interventions is the fear of the emergence of the “good example”, a nation that takes a path that’s outside of what’s “permissible” (ie independent of the neoliberal hegemon). That’s why the U.S. made sure that Jean-Bertrand Aristide was toppled (twice) in the nineties, and why puppet governments have been the norm ever since. Has to do with the revolutionary spirit of the Haitian people. After more than two centuries of collective struggle, Haitians sense almost instinctively when it’s time to and how to rise up and take back their nation. They epitomize the maxim that a people united can never be defeated*. So saying that President Obama’s inattentiveness to Haiti is the cause of the rebellion now sweeping this island nation is like saying the Iraq War was a consequence of George W. Bush’s stupidity, since both the rebellion and the war are consistent with the U.S. drive for world domination, something that, to date, has been more or less independent of who happens to be in the White House and what sort of blunders he supposedly made.

    *some will insist that the failure of Haiti’s ongoing struggle disproves this maxim. But said failure is attributable to outside (U.S. or U.S.-led) interventions, and I have no doubt that the Haitian spirit will eventually prevail.

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