Smashing Up Things and Creatures in Haiti

Smashing Up Things and Creatures in Haiti

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925.


As you may have heard, Haiti has collapsed into chaos.  If it strikes you that you may have heard this before, that’s only because you have.  Haiti is perpetually collapsing into chaos.  That’s what Haiti does.  Over and over and over.

Currently, however, the Prime Minister has resigned, the United States has evacuated its embassy, street gangs control the nation’s capital, a guy named Barbecue is the most powerful man in the country, and rumors of cannibalism are rampant.  The Biden Administration has pledged roughly $300 million to support a United Nations-backed Kenyan peacekeeping force, and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has joined regional leaders at various summits to try to find a solution to the current bout of unrest.  All things considered, the place is a wreck.  Again.

The list of those responsible for Haiti’s perpetual unrest is long and sordid.  In a very concrete sense, the country has been in chaos since its birth – a slave revolt against French colonial rule, during the French Revolution.  That said, chief among those most responsible for the unrest that has plagued this Somalia-in-the-Caribbean over the three decades or so are two people who are responsible for unrest and chaos wherever they go, Bill and Hillary Clinton:

When Bill and Hillary Clinton travelled to the Caribbean nation of Haiti as newlyweds in 1975, they were enchanted. Bill had recently lost a race for Congress back home in Arkansas, but by the time they returned to the US, he had set his mind to running for Arkansas state attorney general, a decision which would put him on the path to the White House. “We have had a deep connection to and with Haiti ever since,” Hillary later said.

Over the next four decades, the Clintons became increasingly involved in Haiti, working to reshape the country in profound ways. As US president in the 1990s, Bill lobbied for sweeping changes to Haiti’s agricultural sector that significantly increased the country’s dependence on American food crops. In 1994, three years after a military coup in Haiti, Bill ordered a US invasion that overthrew the junta and restored the country’s democratically elected president to power. Fifteen years later, Bill was appointed United Nations’ special envoy to Haiti, tasked with helping the country to develop its private sector and invigorate its economy. By 2010, the Clintons were two of Haiti’s largest benefactors. Their personal philanthropic fund, The Clinton Foundation, had 34 projects in the country, focused on things such as creating jobs.

Over their many decades of involvement there, the Clintons became two of the leading proponents of a particular approach to improving Haiti’s fortunes, one that relies on making the country an attractive place for multinational companies to do business. They have done this by combining foreign aid with diplomacy, attracting foreign financing to build factories, roads and other infrastructure that, in many cases, Haitian taxpayers must repay. Hillary has called this “economic statecraft”; others have called it a “neoliberal” approach to aid.

The most significant test of this approach in Haiti began on 12 January 2010, when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck just west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. In a nation of 10 million people, 1.6 million were displaced by the disaster, and as many as 316,000 are estimated to have died. The earthquake also dealt a huge blow to Haiti’s economic development, levelling homes and businesses in the most populous area of the country and destroying crucial infrastructure, including the nation’s biggest port.

Within days of the earthquake, the Clintons stepped up to lead the global response. Bill was selected to co-chair the commission tasked with directing relief spending. As US secretary of state, Hillary helped to oversee $4.4bn that Congress had earmarked for recovery efforts by the US Agency for International Development, or USAid. “At every stage of Haiti’s reconstruction – fundraising, oversight and allocation – a Clinton was now involved,” Jonathan Katz, a journalist who has covered Haiti for more than a decade, wrote in 2015.

Those of you paying particularly close attention to the news lately might have noticed that Jim Biden – President Biden’s brother – has been the subject of much scrutiny.  Like his nephew – the infamous Hunter Biden – Jim has made a fortune over the last decade, largely by trafficking in his proximity to his powerful sibling.  Three weeks ago, he testified behind closed doors to the House Oversight Committee about his potentially corrupt business dealings and any potential involvement of his brother in those dealings.  Of course, when it comes to getting rich by dropping a sibling’s name, Jim Biden is but a piker compared to Hillary’s brothers.  And Haiti constitutes but one example:

[Hillary’s brother Tony Rodham] drew scrutiny as co-chairman of Haiti’s recovery commission, following the devastating 2010 earthquake, for allegedly seeking a multimillion dollar deal to rebuild homes in the ravaged country with funding from the Clinton Foundation.

In court proceedings in an unrelated lawsuit, Rodham explained how someone in Haiti had “donated” 10,000 acres of land to him. In court testimony, he said he had pressed Clinton for helping in breaking through red tape to get funding for the rebuilding project.

“I deal through the Clinton Foundation. That gets me in touch with the Haitian officials,” Rodham said, according to a transcript of his testimony, the Times reported. “I hound my brother-in-law, because it’s his fund that we’re going to get our money from.”

And that project, we note, is in addition to Tony’s role as a director in a company that sought gold mining rights in Haiti – a connection he made, unsurprisingly, through his role at the Clinton Foundation.  Wherever one looks over the entirety of this century, the Clinton name is stamped all over Haiti.  Nothing important has happened there for years, without the Clintons, their relatives, or their Foundation having a significant say in matters.  The Clintons’ corruption has had an enormous impact in the United States, but nothing near the impact that it has had in Haiti, where it has shaped the course of the nation.

We have referred to Bill and Hillary as Tom and Daisy Buchanan for almost the entirety of the last three decades.  They destroy everyone and everything they touch.  And they always have.  Their unique combination of arrogance, avarice, and immunity from the repercussions of their actions have made them a powerful and pulverizing force.

As you watch the news reports about the collapse of Haiti, the dangers there, and the costs associated with it – in human and financial terms – keep in mind that none of this can be separated from the Clintin legacy in that nation.  They are careless people.  They smash up things and creatures and even countries.  And they do so over and over and over again.

Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
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Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.