Thursday, January 21, 2010

Read a lil' bit about Haiti, and how the U.S. almost got Canada

That's what I've been doing today.

It all started with Žižek's review of Peter Hallward's Damming the Flood, here.

That got me to reading a review by Michael Deibert, here. Pretty informative, but not sure that Deibert was considering Hallward's thinking (he was considering Hallward's historicizing).

I wanted to read Hallward's reply, but had a hell of a time finding it (the Monthly Review wasn't very revealing).

So I read Deibert's reply to Hallward's reply, here, hoping that would be informative. Sorta.

Then, I finally found Hallward's reply to Deibert, here. This wasn't particularly informative.

But this was - Hallward's review of Dupuy's book about Aristide.

So, now I feel like I have a sense of some of the Aristide years. I remember as a kid hearing on CNN that burning tires were employed; so I got confused when the U.S. was once again going after Aristide in Haiti. Now I get why I was confused:

Aristide was elected in 1991, a popularly elected man that seemed to juice the poor. He was deposed in a coup in 1991 by the military (backed by the West). He was reelected in 2001 and deposed in a coup d'etat during 2004. Apparently he's still very popular among the people.

This points out an important feature of Haitian politics: there are two majorities - the qualitative (intellectuals and powered elite), and the quantitative (the poor).

Haiti became independent upon a slave rebellion. This terrified the U.S. (because the U.S. had millions of slaves) and so the U.S. did not recognize Haiti until 1864 (and the Civil War).

France insisted that Haiti had to pay compensation for all the freed slaves. The last payment was in 1947 and this was made possible by loans from the U.S. that are still being paid. Hmm. Don't worry, the U.S. (officially) occupied Haiti from 1915 until 1934.

Back to the Civil War.

The last surrender of the U.S. Civil War, by the way, was in 1865. In Britain.

The CSS Shenandoah had been cruising the Pacific Ocean and sinking Union whaling ships for about a year. The U.S. sued the British for their double-crossing us, this was called the Alabama Claims.

In these claims the U.S. requested damages of $2 billion, or surrendering Canada to the U.S.

The result of this arbitration was to establish a precedent for international arbitration and the codification of public international law.


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