International Relations’ Crisis of Imagination

Date:

International Relations' Crisis of Imagination

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Located in Haiti.

  • Between Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Haiti has a reputation for being impoverished and chaotic.

  • About 12 million people attempt to live in Haiti despite internal state collapse and outside meddling.

  • Military forces are ill-equipped to handle the complexity of a poly-crisis like Haiti’s.

  • Could new approaches to dealing with gang violence be found by viewing it as a component of a larger public health concern as opposed to an increase in crime? On the other side of significant adjustments in domestic and global politics are various responses to the need to “do something.”

The Caribbean’s most hilly region is on Hispaniola’s western portion. It rises to about 8,800 feet and sways between elevations before plunging into beaches that are dazzling white and roll into the glistening blue sea. The area is lush but farmed, with an increasing population that primarily depends on subsistence farming reducing the area’s tree cover. Tornadoes erupt on the hills in the summer, and the lowlands below receive deluges of rain. Visitors will find the scenery breathtaking, the locals welcoming, and the history fascinating, but navigating the political quagmire of today can be challenging.

Located in Haiti. Between Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Haiti has a reputation for being impoverished and chaotic. The term “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere” is nearly invariably used after the word “Haiti” in the world news, giving the nation a kind of surname. About 12 million people attempt to live in Haiti despite internal state collapse and outside meddling. After President Jovenel Moise was shot dead while sharing a bed with his wife in 2021, the most recent low point started. As gang warfare and armed vigilante organizations have taken control of communities, killings and kidnappings, have increased. Elections that were initially planned for 2019 but were later delayed to November 2021 due to violence never took place. There are now no officially elected authorities in charge of the country because the tenure of the last 10 elected senators expired in January 2023. The nation sponsored a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council in April 2023 that urged “coordinated and targeted international action” and welcomed outside interference in its internal affairs. However, the demand has been regarded with suspicion considering that UN security forces spread cholera to the nation following the 2010 earthquake. Nobody appears to know what has to be “done,” even though everyone agrees that someone should.

This is typical of the international relations imagination crisis. The phrase “do something” is used frequently, yet it is rarely specified what that “something” should be. And the propensity is to use military force when facing dangers to human life. However, because they are trained to battle, troops frequently commit atrocities of many types against civilians. The US military’s assurance that it “will fix things” in Haiti has been the scene of so many interventions that it is almost absurd. After the president killed his predecessor and the populace rose up in revolt, the United States invaded to defend its corporate interests and drained the national bank. In order to overthrow an autocratic regime once more, the US invaded Haiti in 1994 as part of Operation Uphold Democracy. The unelected Haitian administration continues to seek more military intervention on the island despite the horrific results of each of the previous invasions. There is more than a century’s worth of evidence from Haiti that militarism is not the best way to “do something.”

Military interventionism

However, the main paradigm for international action continues to be military interventionism. Even in casual conversation, we frequently unconsciously aim our plea to the countries with the biggest militaries in the world when we say, “Do something,” perpetuating the notion that the only worthwhile “something” to do on the international stage is to send more soldiers. Deploying troops is the kind of impulsive move that only makes things worse in situations like Haiti’s—a crisis compounded of historical injustices, environmental problems, and national calamities managed by a hollowed-out state during a period of international turmoil.

International relations that resort to military force. Its supporters raise superficial concerns about the current difficulties and provide a solution that is frequently the only one with ideological backing and funding guarantees. Politicians see the military as being superior to other state entities, which is shown in their penchant for militarism. There is a common belief that the military is above public scrutiny. The lack of creativity starts in nations where there is always money for war and weapons but never any for hospitals and schools. It culminates in world politics, where politicians are constantly prepared to call in the troops.

Military forces are ill-equipped to handle the complexity of a poly-crisis like Haiti’s. It is unlikely that anything less than a decade of commitment will be needed because the crisis is generational and in-and-out initiatives won’t work. It is a historical dilemma that necessitates an in-depth understanding of the country and its place in the globe. Not just the neoliberal idea that if a market is created, it would produce material wealth that will miraculously transfer itself throughout society, but also environmental and social measures are needed to address the situation. It calls for a degree of humanism that is inaccessible by means of a weapon. Addressing the problems in Haiti would necessitate a dedication to walking a long, difficult journey with traumatized people and going against modern assumptions about international relations, much alone statehood and white saviors. Military action is unable to accomplish it.

However, we ought to “do something.” In addition, someone somewhere in the globe of 8 billion people probably understands what that “something” is, but we are trained to listen for voices in a military tone. In dealing with gangs and civil conflict around the world, radical alternatives to enforcement and force have produced fruitful outcomes that are worthwhile engaging with. Gang violence is treated as a public health emergency by Cure Violence in Chicago, whose initiatives have reduced gang violence in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago by up to 63 percent. In South Sudan, mothers-led peace committees are facilitating community-level discussions to discourage their children, particularly their sons, from violence. Can concepts like these, which have their roots in humanist methods of figuring out why communities fail, motivate an alternative approach to the poly-crisis in Haiti? What would a remedy entail in a society that is more receptive to various viewpoints? Demilitarizing foreign relations should be a priority if we can successfully advocate for police funding reduction.

It would be necessary for us to envision a vastly different reality in order to “do something” in Haiti and be effective. To stop the practice of electing unpopular puppet presidents, for instance, we would need to rethink the state’s supremacy. There is presently no functioning government in Haiti. Could backing subnational community processes like the South Sudanese community-level conversations divert some vigilante groups off the front lines of conflict? Could new approaches to dealing with gang violence be found by viewing it as a component of a larger public health concern as opposed to an increase in crime?

On the other side of significant adjustments in domestic and global politics are various responses to the need to “do something.” The first step in making these changes would be to alter the material that is taught in schools and colleges about politics and governance. These are blatantly idealistic pleas, and the art is neither simple nor straightforward. However, utopias can serve as a roadmap to keep history from wreaking havoc. Don’t we owe it to ourselves to at least try, especially in light of the fact that about every other military strategy imaginable has been tried in Haiti?

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