Mon, 03 Oct 1994

Slippery objectives in Haiti

One Clinton goal in Haiti is to provide enough stability for the Haitians to launch democracy. A second goal is to get out by prompt stages -- scaling back from 15,000 to 2,000 soldiers and from U.S. to UN control after parliamentary elections in December, followed by a full American withdrawal and a return to complete Haitian control after presidential elections a year hence. Stability and withdrawal -- the early going underlines the potentially frazzling inconsistencies of these goals.

Many ordinary Haitians seem delighted finally to be shielded from their longtime tormentors. But while some have responded by handing over weapons, others respond by looting and threatening vengeance.

Eager for a low profile, the United States is being drawn toward a high one in defense of both sides. Even more will this be so when the dictator Raoul Cedras steps down and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns in mid-October. A quick start on weeding out and trying to train the security elements and subordinating them to the political authority is the key.

-- The Washington Post