David H. Hackworth
September 13, 1994


For the past few days my phone has been running hot with this message from serving warriors: "We're invading Haiti this week." These new and old warrior friends reported that ships are moving into positions; aircraft are on countdown on runways and ship decks; paratroopers are sealed in marshaling areas; and Marines on ships off Haiti's shores have put on their war paint.

All these extraordinary fighting men are ready to go. They're just waiting for the word from their commander-in-chief. No one questions President Clinton's orders, but all wonder about his ability to think out the consequences of the mission.

One Ranger sergeant summed it up for those who risk life and limb executing flawed military options when he said, "Invading Haiti to establish democracy in our hemisphere is like trying to stop the U.S. crime wave by issuing machine-guns to teen gangs."

Rounding up Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and his junta gang will be as easy as it was getting into Somalia. Yes, American warriors will die even if the bulk of the Haitian military runs up the white flag -- as I predict they will-- within the first few hours of the invasion. But there will be die-hards who kill, friendly-fire mishaps that kill, and yet more killing from accidents caused by jumping out of airplanes at night, moving heavy equipment in the dark, crossing a cruel sea in small crafts and filling a sky with fast moving aircraft. Soldiering is dangerous business, even when no one is shooting back.

Clinton plans to keep thousands of our troops in Haiti restoring elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and rebuilding a nation in disintegration. The one-year Somalia misadventure cost $2 billion dollars and 221 U.S. dead and wounded. We left with our tail between our legs, and today the killing and disorder are far worse than when our forces first went in. With Haiti, too, getting out will be the hard part.

The 1994 occupation of Haiti will be costlier than our 1915-1934 miscalculation there and probably take as many years to again withdraw from that 500-year-old running sore. My estimate, based on the Somali/Rwanda model, is the dollar cost will be $2 billion the first year and $1 billion a year until, as in Vietnam, the American people insist, "We're out of here."

Will Aristide and his Clinton-installed set of Haitian thugs stop the centuries old pattern of human-rights abuse and restore democracy to a land that has never known liberty, equality and justice? Based on the former priest's track record, I'd say no. Aristide is an anti-American, Marxist rabble-rouser who has never been into democracy or human-rights. During this CIA-certified loony tune's eight month reign of terror, President Aristide openly denounced democracy and called for class warfare. Before Cedras tossed him out, he went along with such dirty tricks as "necklacing" his political opponents with burning tires rather than keeping his election promises to redistribute wealth, tax the rich or defang the police and army.

Clinton is reported to be a brain who blazes through a book every night. From all his learning, he should know that since Haiti presents no direct threat to American national security, our military intervention there will only increase anti-American feelings in Haiti and Latin America as well as diminishing U.S. credibility worldwide when the mission fails. And fail it will, once the body bags fill the tube and the taxpayer feels pinch as well as pain.

Clinton should know too that Haiti is not a domino which, if not quickly set up, will cause other dominos in Latin America to fall and/or lose their tenuous hold on democracy. The domino game was played in Vietnam, a shameful political sham responsible for the destruction of a generation of Vietnamese and American youth.

In the follow-on "Forest Gump" movie, I suspect "Forest" will end up as president of the USA. He sure won't have Clinton's brain power, but his simple American horse-sense wouldn't permit him to stick our warriors into the Haitian swamps with the impossible mission of instilling democracy in a country where it has never been known.