Feedback to Update #60


We Asked; You Said

Feedback From Communitarian Update
Number 60

We asked:

Large segments of the population of the West, especially in the United States, believe that their foreign policy makers should promote democracy around the world. Yet the United States recently allowed gangs of rebels to depose Haiti’s elected president. Should the United States and its Western allies have sent troops to prevent this? Should the United States or the United Nations have gotten involved despite the fact that Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide presided over a corrupt regime and is associated with human rights violations?

For additional discussion on the limits of democratization, see

To Join the Discussion, email

Here are the responses we received:


Yes, the U.S. government and its allies certainly should have tried to prevent the deposing of President Aristide and the further destabilization of yet another region of the world. Instead, it is my belief that we enabled a coup. President Aristide was a democratically elected president, whose election was monitored and certified by the United Nations.

In my mind the U.S. government is acting more and more like a rogue nation. We are clearly not devoid of corruption ourselves (as is also the case with most governmental processes throughout the world). In addition, there is no government on the planet that is not guilty of “some” form of human rights abuse. Haiti has historically been mired in corruption and corrupt regimes are endemic to its history. There are a number of governments in the former Soviet Union who are prone to corruption; however, we do not go and spirit off their leaders to some African country. Nor do we give them the “devil’s choice,” so to speak.

The United States has seemingly become a country that acts much like a pubescent teenager, acting before thinking through the consequences. It seems to me that at this point in both our history and world history this is a very dangerous game– one that will have dire world consequences for the standing of the United States in world opinion and for our moral compass. It seems to me that if it is truly democracy that the United States is supporting then we should work with a democratically elected regime to right its corruption and supposed human rights abuses before we enable a very dangerous and frighteningly unstable regime change.

Nancy Ent
Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights
University of Cincinnati College of Law
Cincinnati, OH

I am dubious that “large segments…especially in the United States…” believe that their foreign policy makers should promote democracy around the world. What is the evidence that Americans and their legislators are willing to commit significant financial and personal resources to nation-building? To send a handful of Marines to Liberia or Haiti is a PR ploy; sustained American intervention in the Western Hemisphere and in the Middle East has NOT been unequivocally on the side of democracy or populist regimes. On the contrary, more often than not. Human rights violations and corruption is rife in countries strongly supported as “allies.” One last query: How many Haitians have been granted political asylum in the United States during the present and past political upheavals of that country?

Edward Tiryakian
Professor of Sociology
Duke University
Durham, NC

I suspect that the Bush Administration was reluctant to intervene in Haiti for a number of reasons: (1) past support of Aristide by the United States, although Bush has never been particularly sympathetic to him; (2) the fact that Aristide was an elected President, and the Administration seemed to have wanted it very clear that Aristide’s mandate was, practically speaking, now at an end; (3) our long history of intervening in countries like Haiti, often for self-interested reasons, which gave us an imperial odor, which is somewhat embarrassing for a self-proclaimed exponent of democracy to possess. Note our efforts to get the concurrence of other Carribean states as well as France in the intervention; (4) reluctance to be involved in yet another intervention, one that doesn’t rank very high in the “war on terrorism” theme of recent vintage. In the end we could not tolerate chaos next door, especially with the prospect of another wave of refugees heading for Florida.

Philip T. Crotty
Professor Emeritus of Management
Northeastern University
Boston, MA

The behavior of the Bush administration towards Haiti for the last three years has been outrageous, culminating in the coup engineered by the United States. Two essays by Jeffrey Sachs (in the Los Angeles Times and a newspaper out of Taiwan) make this clear.Worst of all, Colin Powell has lost all credibility. If he believes what he says, he is a fool. If he knows better, he is a fraud.

Mayer N. Zald
Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Social Work, and Business Administration
Co-director, Intersections: Initiative on Social Sciences and Humanities
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

I think any interference of powers or super powers in Third World or other countries is contradictory to the community development project. The United States or any other power should use another option for promoting democracy in other counties rather than troops.

Dr. Saeid Zahed
Chair of Sociology
Shiraz University
Shiraz, Iran

Should the United States and its Western allies have sent troops to prevent this? The United States and its allies sent troops in the 1990′s to create this. The Haitian people believed that they were getting democracy, roads, highways, schools, and hospitals. They should have gotten involved to help rebuild Haiti and make it the Mecca it should be.

F. Joseph
New Jersey

My answer is YES — the United States and the United Nations should promote and send their troops to prevent. It is our responsibility. Being born in a democratic state it is necessary. Living in a democratic State is a privilege. If poor people don’t have this opportunity then we must help them, even with troops.

Barbara Rasi


We apologize if you received this message in error. To be removed from this list send the message “signoff commlaw” to or reply to this message with the word “remove” in the subject line.

The Communitarian Update is compiled by Emily Pryor. Please consider forwarding the Update to others who may be interested.

 Posted by at 7:26 pm