Tag Archives: failed state

The Democrats and Haiti

MONDAY 27 SEPTEMBER 2021

On MSNBC, Ari Melber was reporting that the Democrats were not sure they were going to pass the infrastructure bill so central to Biden’s plans. 

Even so, Melber was describing Pelosi as “a master tactician.”  This has become the received wisdom of those in the corporate news.  No matter what Pelosi does, the pundits assume that she is playing two dimensional chess or fifteen dimensional chess.  Even though none of us can figure out what she is doing, it is assumed that she can.  

Josh Marshall, from Talking Points Memo, pointed out that neither Manchin nor Sienna will explain exactly what they object to in the $3.5 trillion bill, and therefore why they are threatening to hold it up.  Even though they are in the position to bring the entire bill to its knees, there is nothing specific that Manchin or Sienna can name that would satisfy them and cause them to vote for the bill.  Marshall claims that they are more concerned with positioning themselves than developing policy.  There is not, in effect, much difference in terms of policy, the two senators just want to have themselves positioned as or known to be positioned as “moderates” rather than Senators on the “extreme.”

As Marshall notes: “There’s not really a disagreement over policy.”

Juanita Tolliver noted that if the Republicans don’t vote for the bill, it will hurt the Republicans politically.  Note: If she thinks that warning the Republicans that they are going to be hurt politically if they stand strong and don’t vote for the infrastructure bill will work, I think she is sadly mistaken.  Republicans cannot be shamed.

Haiti                                                   

 A “principled resignation” Chris Hayes called the decision of Daniel Foote, the Special Envoy to Haiti to quit.  We haven’t, Hayes continued, seen one of those in years.  I have to agree with him.  Milley watched a potential nuclear war unfolding in front of him, set in motion by Donald Trump, and even though he placed a call to China, he didn’t stand in front of the American people and resign.

Foote did.  Appointed as special envoy to Haiti in July of 2021, after the assassination of the Haitian president, Jovenel Moise, Foote resigned over what he characterized as “inhumane” and “counterproductive” deportation of thousands of Haitians back into a desperately troubled country. 

In his letter of resignation, Foote noted that American officials  were confined to secure compounds in Haiti because of the danger of armed gangs which operated freely.

The situation of a failed state was so dangerous, Americans were advised not to travel to Haiti and those living there were told to confine themselves to armed areas.  But, the Biden Administration airlifted an estimated 2,000 Haitians back to Port-au-Prince and dumped them in a country where some of them had no friends, relatives, or means of support.  Many of them had not even lived in Haiti for years.

In Foote’s resignation letter, he not only pointed out the immediate political situation, Foote noted a “cycle of international political interventions in Haiti” that have “consistently produced catastrophic results.”  Foote warned that the number of people who would show up on the borders of the U.S. would increase as long as we refused to confront the fundamental problems surrounding Haiti and our policy toward the country.

It doesn’t seem to be an especially radical thing to say. 

Foote wasn’t reluctant to pass his judgment on to the Biden Administration.  After all, he was supposedly appointed for that very reason.  But, Foote claimed that his recommendations were “ignored and dismissed.”

So, Biden administration officials who trusted his experience and judgment so much that they called upon him when the president of the country had just been assassinated and the country was turning into an anarchy, refused to listen to his assessment of the situation in Haiti and dismissed recommendations based on his expertise.

The thanks Foote received for pointing out that in regards to Haiti “Our policy approach to Haiti remains deeply flawed,” was conveyed to him by Ned Price.  In an unusually graceless strike back at Foote Price said that Foot’s recommendations were “even harmful to our commitment to the promotion of democracy in Haiti.”

Contradicting what some have said about the reception of differing opinions on Afghanistan (Sarah Chase), Price snipped that “no ideas are ignored.”  He finished up, “but not all ideas are good ideas.”   

But, Foote was not the only one familiar with the situation in the country who was disagreeing with Biden administration policy.  Representative Andy Levin (D-Michian), chairman of the House Haiti Caucus, said that the Biden administration was “propping up” the governent of Ariel Henry, Haiti’s acting prime minister.  After Henry had been accused by Haiti’s chief prosecutor as having been involved in the assassination of Moises, Henry summarily removed him from office.  Mr. Levin told reporters on Thursday:

“The Haitian people are crying out for the opportunity to chart their own country’s future, and the United States is ignoring their pleas.”  

india is the republican’s idea of the future

In the past two days I have listened to three interviews with Indian journalist Barkha Dutt about the stunning second wave of COVID deaths in India.  Dutt lost her own father to COVID within the past week.  She comes from what she describes as a privileged family in India, but even so, she was not able to get the medical attention that could have kept her father alive.  The desperation in her reporting and in her voice are inescapable.

After it became apparent that a second wave of COVID was out of control in India, a number of journalists posted photographs of vastly overburdened crematoriums operating all over the country.  There was also video footage of hospitals that are so over run patients are laying on the ground, or on flattened paper boxes with IV feeds hanging from the limbs of trees.  Family members are desperately running from hospital to hospital seeking medical attention for loved ones, and individually searching for oxygen and taking it to those lucky enough to be in hospitals.

According to Dutta, India was incredibly complacent after the first wave of COVID.  Most people thought the worst was behind them.  The Indian government failed to buy adequate supplies of vaccines to cope with a possible second wave, rejected the idea of buying vaccines that weren’t completely made in India and even gave vaccine away after the first wave.  Politicians continued to have enormous rallies without any social distancing or masking and the government allowed masses to gather for religious services.

Now, a second wave has hit India and even the official statistics of deaths are stunning. And, as Dutt reports, the official statistics, alarming as they are, are grossly underreporting the number of deaths.  Dutt has talked to crematorium workers who report burning over 120 bodies a day.  This is one crematorium in one location.  Government statistics for that region, report something like 47 deaths for the entire city. 

Dutt has said that she can’t even estimate how extensive the underreporting is.  She said that she has seen instances where there is as much as a four-fold difference between the official statistics and those she estimates for a city. 

To add to the problem, some testing facilities have been asked to decrease the amount of testing so that there will not be so many cases reported.  This is reminiscent of actions taken by the Trump administration when COVID case counts became politically embarrassing.

Dutt argues that the Indian government was outrageously complacent and did not adequately prepare for the possibility of a second wave of COVID.  She also reports that people in India while initially forgiving of the mistakes of the government, are now angry.

Some people are blaming health care workers for the lack of vaccines and infrastructure, but in fact, it is the fault of the government.   Citizens, she says, have been left to fend for themselves.  Whether you survive this pandemic depends on who you know and how strong you are.  It is survival of the richest and the most connected.  People feel that they are out there all alone, she says.  There is no state apparatus to turn to for help at the hospitals or the crematoriums.  It is just every person on their own fighting for resources.  You can hear the fear and desperation and anger in her voice.

This is what the social configuration looks like when the state breaks down in a complex society.  This is exactly what the Republicans have in mind for this country.  They have worked for decades to destroy the faith people had in the government.  They have worked tirelessly to block any policy that would have allowed government to improve their lives of the citizenry.  They have blocked any policies which would have even allowed the government to function.  Republicans are against effective programs to deal with COVID because successful state intervention in a crisis might have caused people to start understanding and valuing the role of government in a complex society.  An effective government response to COVID might cause people to question whether the state is the enemy.

Numerous corporate journalists (who are like parrots) are now having a field day talking about how the Republicans have ceased to be ideological.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  They have been and are now conducting an ideological fight for a world where life is each against all, where the wealthy and the powerful can secure access to health and clean food and clean water and the rest of us fight it out on the street as did Dutt’s family when they went to have her father cremated.

This is the world Republicans are ushering in.  The reality is staring us in the face every day, with every news report, but the reality is so disturbing Americans cannot and will not look at it.  They would prefer to watch corporate news hosts make celebrities out of the hundreds of thousands of people who needlessly died because of a refusal to allow the government to act. They would rather watch hosts quote rap lyrics as if they were great literature, follow the soap opera of the royal family, or  interview each other about their books (which all say that the institutions are holding and everything’s fine).  The American people would, in other words, prefer to do anything, anything but look at the stark reality of the world the Republicans are preparing us for.

And, we should remember that many of these Republicans have no investment in this world.  They truly believe that this is the “end times,” and that in a very short time they are going to be leaving the rest of us behind while they ascend to heaven.  So, far from being free of ideology, they have the most destructive ideology on the planet.  They believe that the worse things get the better because that brings us nearer to the end of the world.

If you want to know what that world is going to look like, just take a look close look at India.

Dutt was interviewed on Christine Amanpour’s nightly news program and by Ian Bremmer on his podcast, Gzero World (5/8/21)