Don’t go to Haiti

      2 Comments on Don’t go to Haiti

I feel like I should go on record as saying: I am deeply, deeply skeptical that sending US troops of any kind or number to assist Haiti now in the wake of their governmental collapse and the assassination of their ruler would improve anything for anyone. Deeply, deeply skeptical. Like, I can't even imagine what could possibly persuade me that it's a good idea.

Gentle Readers may remember that YHB was once a bit of an interventionist—in theory, I’m not against the idea that US intervention overseas, even military intervention, can be a Good Thing. In fact, I oppose the idea that the US has no responsibility to intervene in overseas crises, or that our responsibility ends with food aid and cash. I am an internationalist, if not an outright globalist, and I don’t really believe in the nation-state as such, or in the unalienable sovereignty of the nation-state anyway. On the other hand, there haven’t been a lot of US military actions that I’ve actually supported recently. Or that have turned out well. But my point is that I’m not a principled pacifist. I am not automatically opposed to it; I am opposed to it in this instance.

Admittedly, it’s easy to imagine myself opposed to any such instance in the near future. The US needs to have some humility for a while, on the global stage, I think, and while it could usefully supply troops to some sort of international effort, it would be more effective public-relations if they were not under US leadership, and the US wouldn’t allow that. Still, whatever the general case, this is a specific case: we don’t know who planned or paid for the assassination (unless it was us) and nobody knows who will be the most influential leaders in a month or two, and we don’t know how the populace will jump, either. I assume that a chunk of them will believe that the US was behind the assassination, and another chunk will believe that the US is murdering the righteous tyrannicides. How big are those chunks? I don’t know. And how should I know, obviously, I’m not an expert. But—I don’t believe that the experts know, either.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

2 thoughts on “Don’t go to Haiti

  1. Chris Cobb

    Tangential question: if you don’t really believe in the “inalienable sovereignty of the nation-state,” where do you see sovereignty residing? Or do you not believe in sovereignty as an inalienable political condition within human political relations?

    (I also don’t see sending U.S. troops to Haiti as a good idea, btw.)

    1. Vardibidian Post author


      I think I’m on the second of those—sovereignty is always conditional, in any grouping. The nation-state’s special claim to sovereignty (which I suppose is real) is abrogated with enough frequency that the question is under what circumstances is it appropriate to overrule the sovereignty of the nation-state. The US in particular has a notorious history of interfering with other nations when the stakes seem high enough to us, and then refusing to intervene when we would prefer not to take responsibility for the outcome.

      This will presumably become more urgent to grapple with as the climate situation gets more dire, and as the refugee crisis gets more dire.



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