March 14, 2005 [LINK]

Even more vacation pix!

There are two more pages full of thumbnail links to photos from our recent trip to Central America: Costa Rica scenic photos (Part II) (15 photos) and Nicaragua scenic photos (10 photos). These two batches consist of traditional print photographs that I scanned; they are higher quality and therefore reproduced at a larger size than the previous photos from this trip, which were taken with our Canon video camera. The only photographic chore left for me to do from this trip is to transfer the video clips to my iMac, which should yield freeze frame images for ten or so more birds. Later I will probably and add descriptive captions to many of the individual photograph pages. Outside, there is a fresh carpet of snow on the ground...

March 14, 2005 [LINK]

Militias disarm in Haiti

Several hundred Haitian militiamen -- mostly ex-soldiers who had served under the old military regime -- handed in their weapons yesterday, in a belated gesture of respect for government authority. A little over one year ago the elected government of President Jean Bertrand Aristide was overthrown, and the U.S. government took no contrary actions, conveying the impression of tacit approval. Since then Haiti has been policed, just barely, by foreign peacekeeping troops under U.N. auspices. Elections are supposed to be held next October or November.

Haiti shows there are exceptions to the notion that democracy leads to peace and prosperity, the optimistic belief upon which President Bush's foreign policy in the Mideast rests. Haiti never embraced liberal democracy (meaning pluralistic and tolerant) with which we are familiar, however. It was "democratic" in the limited sense of Russia under Putin or Peru under Fujimori. Heavy pressure and pleading for more liberalization by the Clinton administration, which restored Aristide to power in 1994, simply did not bear fruit. To ensure that Iraq does not follow in Haiti's footsteps, we must derive the proper lessons from the failed U.S. policy in Haiti. To wit, resist the urge to push the U.S. model of government, and instead make aid flows contingent on tolerance of nonviolent dissent. The demagogue Aristide remains in exile, meanwhile, hoping for a return to power some day, and probably seeking revenge.