Force for Haiti

The US faces a June 1 deadline in Haiti that may be as difficult to meet as the June 30 target for turning over power in Iraq. In less than two mon-ths, UN peacekeepers are supposed to be ready to replace the 3,600 soldiers from the US, France, Canada and Chile who are maintaining a tenuous peace in Haiti for now. The US should be willing to extend its Haiti commitment beyond June 1 if UN officials cannot mobilise a multinational force of 5,000 to 8,000 by then.

Without international peacekeepers, the risk of violence is high. According to UN members of an assessment mission, there may be as few as 1,000 Haitian police on the job in a country of 8 million, while the rebel force that forced President Aristide to flee has not been disarmed. UN peacekeepers will likely be needed for some years to give Haiti time to rebuild its police force. There was an effort in the 1990s to create a competent and uncorrupted national police force, but the effort failed. This time the international community must bring to the task more persistence and patience. Haitian officials must do their share, which includes disassociating themselves from members of the rebel force who have been

implicated in crimes or massacres. It would be a mistake for the US and other nations with troops in Haiti to pull out before a UN contingent capable of assuming these tasks is ready. — The Boston Globe