Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

High Praise For Authors Of Haiti Pact

Victories in the world of diplomacy are usually hard to come by and when they are achieved they often contain mushy language subject to different interpretations by opposing sides.


That certainly seems to be the case in the 11th hour climbdown by Haitis military leaders negotiated by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. All that seems clear is that the agreement calls for General Raoul Cedras and his military junta to step down by Oct. 15 at the latest, paving the way for the return of the exiled elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, although he is not mentioned in the pact.


A number of hurdles need to be overcome even to reach those accomplishments. There is still the potential for violence as 15,000 U.S. and Caribbean troops come ashore to implement the agreement.


Never mind. The most important point is that there is an agreement to restore a democratically-elected government and it has been achieved without an invasion. That is no mean feat considering that planes carrying the vanguard of the invading force were only about an hour away from their targets when the agreement was announced.


Some of Aristide's supporters who are criticizing the agreement should realize that the worst way for the president to have returned to power would have been through the barrel of American guns, given the history of U.S.-Haitian relations.


It may never be known whether the junta would have agreed to step aside if those planes had not taken off. If the agreement works, historians are likely to look at the last week's events as a highly successful use of military power in the pursuit of diplomacy, an uncommon feat in this war-torn century.


Sure, the deal could still break down. For at least one day, however, it is pleasant to look on the positive side and apportion some praise. President Bill Clinton had the courage to go against public opinion and embark on a military course that could have made him a lame duck leader. There were well-founded concerns about whether the move was in the national interest or was constitutionally legitimate without congressional approval. He then had the wisdom, when it came to the crunch, to accept something less than total victory.


But top honors belong to Carter. He refused to take no for an answer, just like at Camp David 16 years ago when he virtually held Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin under house arrest to achieve a far greater victory, the first Arab-Israeli settlement. In Haiti, he even refused administration advice to give up and get out so the invasion could start.


Carter is among the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize to be announced next month. He deserves such an honor