Title

The Human Cost of Failed Diplomacy: The Political Motivations Behind the 1994 United States-led Invasion of Haiti

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

In 1990, Haitian citizens overwhelmingly voted Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the nation’s first democratically elected president. The following September, Raoul Cédras and other Haitian military officials overthrew President Aristide and forced him from the country. For several years following the coup, the United States, United Nations, and Organization of American States answered Aristide’s pleas for help by hosting several negotiation talks and implementing several economic sanctions on Haiti. Sanctions continued until 1994 when President William Clinton called for the United States-led invasion into Haiti to forcefully remove the military regime.

This invasion is particularly interesting for two reasons. President Clinton decided to take action to reestablish democracy and stop the human rights violations in Haiti in September of 1994, only months after neglecting the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Rwandan Genocide. And secondly, previous to the invasion, the United States government emphasized the importance of peaceful negotiations and nonviolent sanctions. What drove Clinton to suddenly approve of a potentially violent invasion? This paper considers the explanations for the timing of the invasion and ultimately finds that the United States’ foreign policy largely depended on the negative feedback that President Clinton received from congressmen and the American public about mounting human rights violations in Haiti as well as the exhaustion of diplomatic negotiations with Raoul Cédras.

Category

Social Sciences

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The Human Cost of Failed Diplomacy: The Political Motivations Behind the 1994 United States-led Invasion of Haiti

In 1990, Haitian citizens overwhelmingly voted Jean-Bertrand Aristide as the nation’s first democratically elected president. The following September, Raoul Cédras and other Haitian military officials overthrew President Aristide and forced him from the country. For several years following the coup, the United States, United Nations, and Organization of American States answered Aristide’s pleas for help by hosting several negotiation talks and implementing several economic sanctions on Haiti. Sanctions continued until 1994 when President William Clinton called for the United States-led invasion into Haiti to forcefully remove the military regime.

This invasion is particularly interesting for two reasons. President Clinton decided to take action to reestablish democracy and stop the human rights violations in Haiti in September of 1994, only months after neglecting the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Rwandan Genocide. And secondly, previous to the invasion, the United States government emphasized the importance of peaceful negotiations and nonviolent sanctions. What drove Clinton to suddenly approve of a potentially violent invasion? This paper considers the explanations for the timing of the invasion and ultimately finds that the United States’ foreign policy largely depended on the negative feedback that President Clinton received from congressmen and the American public about mounting human rights violations in Haiti as well as the exhaustion of diplomatic negotiations with Raoul Cédras.