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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reframing Haiti’s National Security Policy By Stanley Lucas

Historic Context
Since the founding of the Republic of Haiti in 1804, our country has had a proud tradition of a professional defense force capable of securing our national borders and defending our sovereignty.  In 1959, that changed when the Duvalier regime corrupted and politicized the army turning it into a destabilizing force, predatory upon our people.  Jean Bertrand Aristide tried the same in the 1990’s; however, he failed and requested foreign military occupation of the country and dissolved the army. 

It was as a result of the actions of the Duvalier and Aristide dictatorship that our army descended into 40 years of chaos and corruption turning against its own people.  In 1994, for myriad complex political justifications, former President Aristide chose to disband our army rather than reform and professionalize our military service.  Haiti fared no better with the absence of a military force.  In its absence, politically organized gangs have threatened the citizens, drug trafficking has burgeoned and our borders have been breached without recourse.  Without a military, our country was unable to operate in the wake of the tragic January 12, 2010 earthquake and was forced to rely upon the U.S. military to stabilize our country.

We now have an opportunity to reframe our national security policy and ensure that we never return to that state of affairs.  We must ensure that we honor the founders of our Republic, Jean Jacques Dessalines and Toussaint Louverture, who both used the army to secure freedom and liberty for our people and champion those values worldwide.  In fact, Haitian soldiers fought alongside the Bolivars to secure freedom throughout Latin America; and they fought alongside American soldiers in Savannah, Georgia to overthrow colonial rule.  Haiti has made an indelible historic contribution to the cause of freedom and liberty.  

Under the Martelly Administration, Haiti can reclaim its national sovereignty and restore a professional, modernized Territorial Defense Force.  Haiti's defense policy can be strategic and comprehensive focused on protecting and preserving our national interests.  We can strengthen our existing defense institutions and leave behind a legacy of a functioning defense apparatus for the next Administration breaking the cycle of failed leadership.  

Principle-Based Policy

First, we need to ground our defense policy in a core set of universally accepted principles:  
  • Safeguard the National Interests and Sovereignty of Haiti.  Haiti can reclaim its ability to defend its borders from external threats.  As such, Haiti should establish a Territorial Defense Force in the interest of defending the borders and supporting our nation in times of disaster.  The United Nations force, known as MINUSTAH, is currently supposed to be providing this function but has not met expectations.  Further, MINUSTAH is technically an occupation of our country and a violation of our national sovereignty.  We should work with the United Nations to redefine our Framework of Cooperation to drawdown their forces in a timely manner and encourage those resources to be channeled into a new Haitian-led Territorial Defense Force.

  • Promotion and Defense of Freedom and Human Dignity Worldwide.  Haiti was founded upon the principles of freedom and human dignity when in 1804 our forefathers overthrew a colonial power to achieve freedom from slavery making Haiti the world’s first black republic.  In keeping with our proud history, we must champion, support and defend freedom and liberty worldwide.  This principle should serve as the foundation upon which all policy decisions are conceived.

  • Support for Our Allies.   Haiti has strategically important allies throughout the world.  We have heavily relied upon the support of the international community for aid and provision of social services.  In fact, foreign aid comprises 75% of our national budget.  Where our interests align, we must actively support and engage our allies positioning Haiti as a trusted ally and champion of freedom.  In support of this principle, our Defense Force should seek to build strategic partnerships with our allies seeking support for the relaunch of our defense capabilities and ensuring that all allies understand the purpose for the new force.

Current Threats

Haiti has limited international threats given its weakened economic position globally.  The threat of international invasion is low.  Haiti lacks resources or strategic positioning to be a primary global target for invasion and has solid international relationships to protect against that threat.  Rather, threats to Haiti are primarily criminal and environmental.   

  • Drug Trafficking Our primary threat is drug trafficking.  According to recent reports, approximately 78% of the cocaine entering Haiti in transit to the United States is coming from Venezuela and the rest from Colombia. Drug trafficking is destabilizing for a country that is trying to build its democratic institutions. Under the Aristide regime Lavalas party members, the head of the President security, the Lavalas President of the Senate, several of Aristide’s police chiefs and his associate kingpin Jacques Beaudouin Ketant are all heavily involved in the drug trade. The marijuana traffic between Haiti and Jamaica is bringing arms in the country as well. As a result of these illegal activities and economic power, drug dealers have penetrated the banking system and various areas of the economy thus influencing elections, the justice system, the police, parliament and the executive branches.

  • Political Gangs They are again organizing to promote political chaos and undermine this Administration.  Under a group called the Ghetto Reunis former kidnappers and political gangs are planning disorder. They have burned several public markets (Tabarre, Croix des Missions and Gonaives) and two camps in order to push merchants who lost their goods to protest in the streets. They are working to create a destabilizing political campaign of violence against the population in an attempt to intimidate the Administration and undermine reform.

  • The former Haitian Military:  Illegally disbanded in 1995 by former President Aristide, the force remained a legal institution according to our constitution. During his campaign, candidate Martelly promised to build a modern army capable of answering to the needs of the country.  Recent polls showed that 98% of Haitian supports the build up of a Haitian Defense Force.  On November 18, 2011, President Martelly announced that the army would be reconstituted. Since then, some members of the former military have entered various bases asking the President to keep his promise and requesting overdue salaries and benefits. However, cabinet members have deemed their actions to be illegal.  While the Martelly administration is trying to peacefully resolve this issue the Minister of Defense has yet to issue a policy on how the Defense Force will be built and if some of the former military -- after proper vetting and evaluation -- will be integrated into the new force. 

  • Natural Disasters Haiti’s most destabilizing security threat comes from its geographical location.  Located on three earthquake fault lines and in a hurricane corridor, Haiti must be prepared to cope with natural disasters and emergencies.
    •    Viruses and Bacteria:  Viruses and bacteria are major threats to Haitian agriculture and therefore the economy and political infrastructure.  In a country with no healthcare infrastructure and subsistence farming, Haiti is particularly vulnerable to viruses and bacteria that can devastate the people and the economy furthering our dependence on international assistance and predatory foreign profiteers.  Often, foreign profiteers will increase the price of food to levels that become unaffordable for Haitians, who will take to the streets in protest resulting in an unstable political situation. 

In 2007, the avian flu virus killed 65% of Haiti’s chicken production with a direct impact on both the chicken and egg markets, two products consumed heavily by Haitians. For the past nine years three different viruses are killing banana trees, coconut trees and coffee. These have a huge economic impact on the famers, the agriculture and the economy of the country.  Haiti is forced to import these agricultural products, chicken and eggs from the Dominican Republic furthering our dependence on that country. 

The Nepalese soldiers of the United Nations Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) introduced a devastating cholera outbreak to the country by contaminating the main rivers of Haiti (Riviere de Mirebalais and the Artibonite River) with the cholera bacteria. That bacterium killed 100,000 people and infected thousands of Haitians. It is estimated that it will cost $1.5 billion to cure the people infected and clean the country from that bacteria.  Clearly Haiti does not have the financial resources to do that further putting the country in a weakened position.

While these are our primary immediate security threats, we do have international threats that merit close and careful monitoring as well as bilateral or multilateral collaboration.

  • Dominican Republic While relations are the most stable they have been in decades, there are many imbalances that need to be addressed comprehensively.  From a security standpoint, the Dominican military has been acting aggressively at our borders, violating Haitian human rights and, in some cases, crossing the border illegally.  They have also been strengthening their military building up a capability that far surpasses our own.  It is clear that they constitute a military threat – although not imminent – given the dramatic imbalance.  The perception in Haiti is that there is a sector of the international community that is supporting that hegemonic policy of the DR toward the first black republic of the world. This sector is working hard to sneak in Dominican soldiers and policemen into MINUSTAH. That would be unacceptable for 100% of the Haitian people. Launching our own Defense Force will contribute to rebalancing the relationship and addressing this national security shortcoming.

  • MINUSTAH The UN has a vested interest in maintaining the MINUSTAH force:  it is a source of extensive funding.  The 2010 budget for MINUSTAH was $864 million.  They have been largely ineffective in their mandate to professionalize the police and have been an outright threat in many instances to the Haitian people.

  • Foreign Profiteers:  There is a network of foreign profiteers operating in Haiti in alliance with the Groupe de Bourdon, Haiti’s corrupt business cartel supported by Lavalas anarchists which has become the most politically and economically destabilizing force in Haiti.  This network of profiteers is comprised of foreign politicians, NGO representatives, government officials and business representatives all seeking to cash in on Haiti’s aid.  They secure the aid money and contracts with a generous cut for their operating expenses and deliver no results for the people.  Less then one cent from every dollar actually goes to the Haitian government and there is almost no consultation with the Haitian government on how the money is spent.  In fact, the Haitian government has been unable to obtain basic information about how much aid money has been spent on what programs and how those programs and providers were selected.  They have now set their sites on the recently discovered USD$30 billion gold mines as well as the potential oil reservoir of Haiti. This is basic information.  Those who raise questions about the money and where it went have been politically and personally threatened, myself included.  

A New Framework  

In order to effectively meet these challenges, the Haitian defense team should be reorganized into six discreet organizations with clear lines of responsibility.

  • National Security Council
The National Security Council should be housed in the Office of the President as the primary advisory panel to the President on all domestic and international security issues.  The President will be the Chairman of the Council with the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense as Vice Chairmen.  In addition, Council members will include a representative from each of the following organizations: Ministries of the Interior, Justice, Foreign Affairs and the Haitian National Police, Territorial Defense Force, and the Intelligence Service.

  • Haitian National Police
The HNP will continue to serve as our primary domestic security force. The HNP is comprised of 14,000 police officers poorly trained and equipped and does not cover Haiti’s 140 municipalities. They should be professionalized, depoliticized and properly equipped. 

  • Territorial Defense Force of Haiti
Under the Ministry of Defense, the Territorial Defense Force of Haiti (TDFH) should be launched on November 18, 2012, Bataille de Vertieres holiday.  The new force should be comprised of 3,500 troops to be trained as a modern military protection force.  The primary role of the Force should be:
  • Protect and defend the nation’s borders;
  • Combat drug trafficking; and
  • Provide emergency and disaster response and management.

Proven perpetrators of atrocities and human rights violations under the former army will not be admitted.  Anyone found of illegal actions will not receive back salaries or pensions.  

  • TDFH Corps of Engineers
Haiti should establish a public engineering, design and construction management agency.  The Corps’ mission should be to provide public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen the nation's security, promote economic development, provide vital public works projects for social advancement, protect the environment and ecosystem of the country, and reduce risks from disasters.  

To that end, the Corps’ mandate should be:

  • Plan, design, build, and operate dams, bridges and irrigation systems. Other civil engineering projects will include flood control, beach nourishment, and dredging for waterway navigation.
  • Design and construct flood protection systems.
  • Design and construct defense facilities for the Territorial Defense Force, Intelligence Services, x, and the Haitian National Police.  
  • Develop and implement environmental and ecosystem restoration projects.

  • Ministere de l’Interieur et de la Protection Civile
Haiti lies on three known earthquake fault lines and in a major hurricane corridor.  In October 7, 2002, the Bureau of Mines issued a report to the Aristide Administration stating with certainty that Haiti would face an earthquake in the near future.  Nothing was done to address that risk.  In 2008, Haiti faced a devastating hurricane season.  Nothing was done to prepare and plan for that weather system.  In 2010, Haiti faced the most serious earthquake in its history resulting in one of the most serious humanitarian crises of the decade.  Our government was completely unable to respond to or manage that crisis calling in foreign militaries and agencies to stabilize our country and pick up the pieces.

Haiti must revamp and professionalize its emergency management and disaster response capabilities.  The primary purpose of Secretariat d’Etat de la Protection Civile within the Ministry of the Interior is to coordinate the response to a disaster that overwhelms the resources of local and departmental authorities.  The delegue of the department in which the disaster occurs must declare a state of emergency and formally request from the president that Secretariat d’Etat de la Protection Civile and the government respond to the disaster. 

Response capabilities should be divided into five categories:

  • Disaster Medical Assistance Teams:  This group should be comprised of doctors, nurses, paramedics, veterinarians, pharmacists, morticians, and forensic scientists to provide medical care at disaster scenes.  

  • Disaster Medical Systems:  This group should be comprised of hospital administrators, pharmacists and representatives of the Ministry of Health to mobilize resources in disasters.

  • Epidemic and Pandemic Disease Containment:  This group should be comprised of epidemiologists, doctors, hospital administrators, pharmacists, and representatives of the Ministry of Health to contain and treat the outbreak of communicable diseases.  This group could also contain an international outreach and coordination team that will work with counterparts around the world to contain disease outbreak.

  • Search and Rescue Team:  Search and rescue teams should be comprised of police and defense force personnel to rescue victims from structural collapses, confined spaces, and other disasters.  This team should also build international support networks.

  • Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS):  The vehicle provides communications support after a major hurricane.  These teams provide communications support to local public safety. For instance, they may operate a truck with satellite uplink, computers, telephone and power generation at a staging area near a disaster so that the responders can communicate with the outside world. There are also Mobile Air Transportable Telecommunications System (MATTS) assets, which can be airlifted in. Also portable cell phone towers can be erected to allow local responders to access telephone systems.  

  • Intelligence Service
The primary purpose of the nation’s intelligence service should be to gather information relating to domestic and international security threats to Haiti to inform policy makers on critical domestic and foreign policy issues.

Parliament will have to pass legislation to provide for the national security of the country and ensure this strategy becomes real.  In addition, parliament should pass legislation to guarantee that resources from private donations to NGOs, international aid and cooperation, private investments and the exploitation of Haiti’s gold and diamond mines as well as oil benefit both investors and the Haitian people.

The International Community

Haiti will need a cohesive and comprehensive strategy to secure the necessary international support for this initiative.  

  • Ensure Support From the TDFH from Traditional Allies:  Haiti needs to define the establishment of the force as part of an overall defense strategy and an effort to reclaim sovereignty and build internal capacity.  There are several international allies that will be willing to help and support this domestic goal.

  • Renegotiate UN Framework:  MINUSTAH is spending around $864 million yearly in Haiti without having a net positive impact on the country. The mandate of the mission should be refocused to an exit strategy to allow serious security institutional building to strengthen Haitian security capabilities like what happened with the U.S. military in Iraq to facilitate an organized and orderly departure of MINUSTAH.

  • Effectively Convey Haiti’s Rationale.  A network of political opponents has already begun a public relations campaign, particularly in the U.S., to undermine the establishment of the TDFH.  They have a well-worn and very weak argument.  Haiti’s rationale for relaunching the force is eminently defensible with the facts, but a well-funded and savvy team of lobbyists is undermining those facts.  The Haitian government needs to clearly convey its rationale.

The Rationale

Getting lost in the overall debate is the Haitian Government’s rationale for launching such a defense force.  Therefore, I would like to provide a simple, concise outline of why the establishment of the defense force is actually a top priority for Haiti:

  • This is the will of the Haitian people:  On the campaign trail, citizens raised the issue of the Defense Force repeatedly with President Martelly, which prompted him to include it in his platform.  The launch of this Force is a direct response to the request and will of the Haitian people who have been far too long marginalized from the political process.  Currently, more than 96% of the people support the idea. 

  • The MINUSTAH has failed to produce results and has become a destabilizing force:  Over the past seven years, the MINUSTAH has received more than $3.5 billion in funding.  We can hardly see any of the lasting impact or results of that investment.  MINUSTAH’s track record has been plagued by scandal after scandal.  There was a sex scandal involving Uruguayan and Nepalese soldiers; their responsibility for introducing cholera into the country after the earthquake resulting in the deaths of 10,000 Haitians and 500,000 illnesses; involvement in a murder; business scandals and corruption; and most recently, the rape of a 17 year old man caught on video tape for which the offenders were not immediately punished but only extradited to their home country.  They have become a destabilizing force and there is growing fear amongst the Haitian population.

  • Actions of the military under previous dictatorships should be factored into the launch of a new force, but are not a reason to undermine the establishment of a modern protection force in Haiti:  Many people are arguing that Haiti’s previous dictatorships politicized the army and it became an uncontrollable and corrupt force. There were actually many reasons for the disbanding of the military in 1994 by Aristide, and many in fact were more political than security related. But Haiti has not fared well in the absence of a military either.  Gangs proliferated and drug trafficking burgeoned. We should also remember that Haiti’s military history is not all bad.  There are few militaries in the world that have a spotless record.  But Haiti’s military has some remarkable triumphs as well.  Overthrowing colonial forces being chief among them.  And, supporting other nation’s in their quest for freedom and liberty.  Haiti’s troops supported Bolivar in his quest to liberate Latin America.  Haiti’s troops fought alongside Americans in Savannah, Georgia in their quest for independence from colonial power.  We can hardly judge our military history based only on the tragic events under the Duvalier dictatorship.

  • In fact, the building and professionalization of an army in transition countries, is a standard practice – so why would there be a double standard in Haiti?  The US military strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan included building and training modern armies.  After the fall of Pinochet in Chile, they reformed their army, which has been a modern military force which most recently displayed their organization in their 2010 earthquake recovery efforts. Haiti is no less able to overcome a tragic historic episode and build a modern military than these nations and countless others throughout the world that have overcome their historic precedents.

  • The HNP is incapable of managing Haiti’s current threats:  Outgoing MINUSTAH commander, General Elito, said in 2005 year that even if Haiti were to train an addition 30.000 police officers, the HNP would be incapable of providing for the domestic security.  Further, a modern military provides services beyond policing.

  • Haiti was incapable of responding to a major natural disaster, a traditional role of the military throughout the world.  In the wake of the 2010 earthquake, we were unable to respond in any way to the disaster.  The US military had to come in and manage our ports and airports, conduct search and rescue missions, and provide air support for food delivery and immediate medical assistance.  This is not sustainable for a country that is located in a major hurricane corridor and lies on three earthquake fault lines.  We must have our own capabilities.  And, these capabilities throughout the world are performed by the military.

  • Launching our own defense force is more cost effective and can address some immediate employment challenges.  We would envision hiring and providing training to 3,500 young Haitians.  Unemployment in our country among youth is 70%.  This is also an effective and immediate jobs program. Further, the international community (tax payer dollars) pays almost a billion dollars annually to support the UN defense force.  We estimate that the train and run our army, we will need a $200 million budget.

  • Most importantly, we are a sovereign and free country.  Why wouldn’t we have our own protection forces?  Why wouldn’t Haiti have the right to defend its borders?  There is no defensible reason to justify denying Haiti the right to defend itself and exercise its sovereignty.