Historians Against the War

Sign the Petition

Speakers Bureau

Press Releases and Statements

Virtual Movement Archive


Teaching Resources

Civil Liberties and Academic Freedom


Join our Listserv

Download HAW images

The Blog

About us / Contact us

The HAWblog has moved to http://blog.historiansagainstwar.org/

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

[haw-info] HAW Notes (including links to recent articles of interest)

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

The "Remembering Howard Zinn" session April 9, co-sponsored by HAW and the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) at the Organization of American Historians annual meeting, was well attended and warm-spirited.  An account appears on the Zinn Education Project's web site, at http://www.zinnedproject.org/posts/6187.  The full text of Staughton Lynd's featured speech at the session is also on the Zinn Education Project site and is included in the list below.

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"Howard Zinn, Historian"
By Staughton Lynd (talk given in the "Remembering Howard Zinn" OAH session), posted April 12

"Left & Right: Prospects for Peace"


Symposium in The American Conservative, May 1 issue, posted April 12
On the prospects for unity of progressives and conservatives opposed to US wars

Interview with Andrew Bacevich on "Bill Moyers Journal"
Transcript of interview, mainly on Afghanistan, conducted April 9
Andrew Bacevich teaches history and international relations at Boston University

"Two, Three, Many Afghanistans"
By Michael Klare, The Nation, April 26 issue, posted April 7

"Micro-Geography Matters in Jerusalem"
By Dror Wahrman, History News Network, posted April 5
The author teaches history at Indiana University Bloomington

"Legitimation Crisis in Afghanistan"
By William R. Polk, The Nation, April 19 issue, posted April 1

"Can Anyone Pacify the World's Number One Narco-State? The Opium Wars in Afghanistan"
By Alfred McCoy, TomDispatch.com, posted March 30
The author teaches history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The Texas State Board of Education and History Standards: A Teacher's Perspective"
By Ron Briley, History News Network, posted March 29
The author is a longtime history teacher, and currently assistant headmaster, at the Sandia Preparatory School

"Lying About Nuclear Weapons"
By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted March 29
The author teaches history at SUNY Albany

"The 'Long War' Quagmire
By Tom Hayden, Los Angeles Times, posted March 28

Suggestions for these (more or less) biweekly lists can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Thanks to Miriam Jackson and Larry Wittner for sending suggestions for this week's list, along with Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg from the HAW working group for this project.

Monday, April 05, 2010

[haw-info] HAW Notes

The first two of these notes relate to the Organization of American Historians (OAH) annual meeting in Washington, DC later this week.

1.  HAW and the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) are co-sponsoring a special OAH session entitled "Remembering Howard Zinn: A Sharing of Memories and Thoughts," 5:30 to 7:00 pm Friday, April 9 in the Lincoln Room, on the mezzanine of the Hilton Washington, the convention hotel.  Howard's long-time friend Staughton Lynd will give a formal appreciation, followed by an open mike.

2.  Also on Friday at the OAH, we will also have a literature table, probably in the same area as other nonprofits.  If anyone is willing to help staff it, please write to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  In any case, if you get a chance, please look for it and stop by. 

3.  A paper given by at the first HAW national conference (in Austin, Texas, 2006) by military veteran and historian Paul Atwood has been greatly expanded and now exists in book form under the title War and Empire: The American Way of Life (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).  http://www.amazon.com/War-Empire-American-Way-Life/dp/0745327648/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1269534974&sr=1-1

Friday, March 26, 2010

[haw-info] Links to recent articles of interest

Suggestions for inclusion in these more-or-less biweekly lists can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Working group members are Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Maia Ramnath, Matt Bokovoy, Tom Murphy, and Jim O'Brien.  Thanks also to Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and John J. Fitzgerald for suggesting articles included in this week's list.

"Top Ten Reasons East Jerusalem Does Not Belong to Jewish-Israelis"


By Juan Cole, Informed Comment blog, posted March 23
On the history of Jerusalem from ancient times; the author teaches Middle East history at the University of Michigan

"Texas School Board Whitewashes History"


By Daniel Czitrom, History News Network, posted March 22
The author teaches history at Mt. Holyoke College

"Counterfactual: A Curious History of the C.I.A.'s Secret Interrogation Program"


By Jane Mayer, The New Yorker, March 29 issue
Dismantles Marc Theissen's best-selling book Courting Disaster

"From the Philippines Conquest to Afghanistan, the U.S. Trains Local Police in Brutality"


By Jeremy Kuzmarov, History News Network, posted March 22 (first published in Asia-Pacific Journal)

"Twisting History in Texas"


By Eric Foner, The Nation, April 5 issue, posted March 18
The author teaches history at Columbia University

"The Pentagon Church Militant: The Top Five Questions We Should Ask the Penatagon"


By William J. Astore, TomDispatch.Com, posted March 18
The author, a retired Air Force lieutenant Colonel, teaches history as the Pennsylvania College of Technology

"Justifying Torture: Yoo Besmirches the Legacy of Jefferson"


By Ray McGovern, CounterPunch.org, posted March 16

"Torture and the Imperial Presidency"


By Cary Fraser, Truthout.org, posted March 15
The author teaches history at Pennsylvania State University

"The Travails of a Client State: An Okinawan Angle on the 50th Anniversary of the US-Japan Security Treaty"


By Gavan McCormack, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted March 12

"An Open Letter to President Obama: U.S. Foreign Policy and Post-Election Iran"


By Cyrus Bina, Counterpunch.org, posted March 12
Traces the history of recent decades of US-Iran relations


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

[haw-info] HAW Notes (including links to recent articles of interest)

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

Here are a couple of notes, followed by our (more or less) biweekly links to recent articles of interest.

1.  HAW will have a literature table at the Left Forum (www.leftforum.org), being held this year at Pace University in New York City, March 19-21.  If anyone is planning to attend and is interested in helping at the table for a stretch on either Saturday or Sunday, March 20 or 21, please contact Jeri Fogel at jerise@jerise.com.

2.  Members of the HAW Steering Committee for this year, following an election by the currently enrolled HAW membership (see the HAW web site, at historiansagainstwar.org, on how to join) are as follows:  Marc Becker, Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, John J. Fitzgerald, Jerise Fogel, Rich Gibson, Van Gosse, Martin Halpern, Mark Hatlie, Julia Liss, Staughton Lynd, Edrene McKay, Beth McKillen, Carl Mirra, Tom Murphy, Jim O'Brien, Margaret Power, Maia Ramnath, Robert Shaffer, Francis Shor, and Andor Skotnes.

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"Israel Sandbags Biden"


By Juan Cole, Reader Supported News, posted March 10
includes historical background

"Exit Strategies for Aghanistan and Iraq"
By Tom Hayden, The Nation, posted March 8
on Congressional dynamics and the state of the peace movement

"Let Europe Be Europe: Why the United States Must Withdraw from NATO"


By Andrew Bacevich, Foreign Policy, March-April, posted March 4
The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University

"The Pentagon's Runaway Budget"

By Carl Conetta, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted March 3
on the rise in military spending since 1998, compared to past surges

"How to Fight a Better War (Next Time)"
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted March 2
on "lessons" from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, tongue-in-cheek

"The System Works, Obama's Approach Doesn't"
By Stanley Kutler, Truthdig.com, posted March 2 
compares Obama to Franklin Roosevelt

"America, the Fragile Empire"
 By Niall Ferguson, Common Dreams (from Los Angeles Times), posted February 28

"US Started a War of Aggression Against Afghanistan over 30 Years Ago"
By James A. Lucas, Countercurrents.org, posted February 26

Suggestions for articles to include in these mailings can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  Other members of the working group for this project are Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Maia Ramnath, and Tom Murphy.

U.S. Impact on Haiti often Tragic

HAW Steering Committee member Elizabeth McKillen wrote this short piece on the history of U.S. involvement in Haiti. It was originally published in the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine Newsletter v 23, no 3 (March 2010)at http://peacectr.org/wp/.

Abundant news footage of U.S. soldiers landing on the shores of Haiti to help with relief in the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince on January 12 likely inspired mixed feelings among those familiar with the long history of U.S. political interventionism and military occupations in that country. Although current U.S. efforts to help with earthquake relief in Haiti are both laudable and necessary, long-term solutions to Haiti’s problems must rest on the bedrock of its political and economic autonomy from the United States.

George Washington was the first American president to intervene in Haiti’s internal politics. When a slave insurrection broke out in the French West Indian colony of Saint Dominique (present-day Haiti) in 1791, the Washington administration supplied French planters with provisions, arms and munitions, before officially declaring U.S. neutrality. The U.S. president declared it “Lamentable! to see such a spirit of revolt among the Blacks” of Saint Dominique. The rebels triumphed despite U.S. aid to the French and created an independent republic in 1804. The U.S. withheld diplomatic recognition until 1862.

U.S. companies invested heavily in Haiti after the Civil War and by 1900 U.S. marines had landed in Haiti eight different times “to protect American lives and property.” In 1915, the Woodrow Wilson administration launched a full-scale military
occupation of Haiti that continued until 1934. Wilson argued that the island nation might be used by the Germans for military activity against the United States during World War I. But Wilson was also influenced by U.S. railroad and banking companies with extensive interests in Haiti who feared European competition and continuing political unrest. U.S. occupation officials wrote a constitution for Haiti, but then suspended the legislature for thirteen years. U.S. marines built hospitals and highways in Haiti but also introduced racism and segregation. Haitians resented their colonial status and rebelled frequently; in 1919 alone, U.S. marines killed over 2000 residents in their efforts to quell the unrest.

To assist in pacifying Haiti, U.S. military leaders created the Garde d’ Haiti, which became known for its brutality. After the U.S. military withdrew, the Garde continued to play an important role in Haitian life and democracy remained elusive.
In 1946, a revolution placed the government in the hands of the Garde, and in 1957 the ruthless dictator Francois Duvalier (“Papa Doc”) assumed power. He was succeeded by his equally ruthless son, “Baby Doc,” who ruled until being ousted in 1986. Both leaders maintained strong ties to the United States.

Since 1986, instability has continued to plague Haiti and the U.S. has periodically intervened, ostensibly in an effort to restore order. Yet Haiti remains the most impoverished nation in the Western hemisphere, despite its wealth of resources
and proud tradition of defying white colonial powers.

The point here is not to inspire cynicism in the face of one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time, but to suggest that long term solutions to Haiti’s problems will require that the United States finally accede to Haitians the independent political and economic development they have sought since 1804.

Monday, March 08, 2010

[haw-info] Support needed for Kucinich withdrawal resolution

This message is sent on behalf of Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Steering Committee member and legislative coordinator of Historians Against the War.
This past Thursday, Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced H. Con Res. 248 , a privileged resolution with 16 original cosponsors that will require the House of Representatives to debate whether to continue the war in Afghanistan. Debate on the resolution is expected early this week (week of March 8).

This Resolution would require the President to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2010. While unlikely to pass, significant Congressional support for the Kucinich measure would help build momentum for the budget battles to come. The White House is asking for  $33 billion Supplemental to 2010 budget to pay for the increase in troop numbers, along with an additional $159 billion for FY 2011.

As of now, the Kucinich resolution lists as cosponsors John Conyers, Ron Paul, José Serrano, Bob Filner, Lynn Woolsey, Walter Jones, Danny Davis, Barbara Lee, Michael Capuano, Raúl Grijalva, Tammy Baldwin, Tim Johnson, Yvette Clarke, Alan Grayson, and Chellie Pingree.

Because Rep. Kucinich is invoking the War Powers Act, a vote is expected to come soon. Please call the Congressional switchboard 202-224-3121 and tell your Congressional Representative to support  H. Con Res. 248.

Friday, February 19, 2010

[haw-info] HAW Notes (including links to recent articles of interest)

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,

Here are some notes, followed by links to recent articles of interest on HAW-related topics.

1.  HAW and the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) are planning a special session, "Remembering Howard Zinn," at the Organization of American Historians convention in Washington, DC in early April.  The session will take place at 5:30 pm on Friday, April 9.  Staughton Lynd, a friend of Howard for nearly fifty years, will speak, and there will be ample opportunity for attendees to share memories and thoughts.

2.  The California Faculty Association (CFA) has called for a state- and nationwide day of action March 4 "to raise awareness about the crisis in public education and the need to fully fund our schools, college, and universities."  The CFA's March 4 web site (http://www.calfac.org/march4.html) has information about events being planned in California and in a number of other states, with contact information.

Links to Recent Articles of Interest

"The U.S. Military's German Fetish"
By William Astore, TomDispatch.com, posted February 18
The author, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology

"'Government in a Box' in Marja"


By Andrew Bacevich, Los Angeles Times, posted February 17
The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University

"Hold Onto Your Underwear: This Is NOT a National Emergency"


By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted February 14
On the continuing legacy of 9/11

"The Script Calls for Victory, No Matter What: The Battle for Marjah"
By Patrick Coburn, CounterPunch.org, posted February 11

"Ending the War in Afghanistan"
By Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch.org, posted February 11

"Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor"
By Naomi Klein, The Nation (March 1 issue), posted February 11
Draws heavily on Haitian history

"Preserving the Golden Rule as a Piece of Anti-Nuclear History"


By Lawrence Wittner, History News Network, posted February 8

The author teaches history at SUNY Albany

"Iraq Policy: D"


By Bonnie Bricker and Adil E. Shamoo, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted February 5

The working group for these biweekly collections of recommended articles consists of Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields.  Suggestions for articles to include can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.

Friday, February 05, 2010

[haw-info] links to recent articles of interest

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
This is the latest in the series of biweekly mailings that we started in September, linking to recent articles on HAW-relevant topics, either written by historians or written by others but providing historical background.  Suggestions can be sent to jimobrien48@gmail.com.  The working group for this project consists of Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields.
"Obama's State of the Union"
By Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted February 3
(on foreign policy aspects of the State of the Union speech)
"Missteps on Afghanistan"
By William R. Polk, History News Network, posted February 1
The author formerly taught history at the University of Chicago and is now working on a book to be entitled Afghanistan: Descent into Unending War
"Afraid of the Dark in Afghanistan"
By Anand Gopal and Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted January 28
"Patriotic Anti-Militarism: Remodeling the Antiwar Movement"
By Kevin Zeese, CounterPunch, posted January 26
"Pakistan on the Brink? The Real Threat from Within"
By Adaner Usmani, Against the Current, January-February issue
"Replacing International Oppression with International Aid"
By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted January 25
The author teaches history at SUNY Albany (not Vassar College, as was mistakenly stated in our last mailing)
"George Clooney's Haiti -- and Beyond"
by Jesse Lemisch, New Politics web site, posted January 23
The author formerly taught history at John Jay College and, before that, the University of Chicago and SUNY Buffalo
"Securing Disaster in Haiti"
By Peter Hallward, Americas Program web site, posted January 22

Monday, February 01, 2010

[haw-info] HAW Notes

Here are a couple of notes related to Historians Against the War:
1.  A special page has been set up on the HAW web site for members and friends of HAW to share memories of Howard Zinn, the activist historian whose death on January 27 has saddened a great many of us.  The memorials posted so far are at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/zinn/.  We invite you to add your own memories to this page; send to Marc Becker (marc@yachana.org).
2.  We've extended (to February 9) the deadline for cadidacies for the HAW Steering Committee.  (Currently there are 18 candidates for the 20 slots on the committee.)  To nominate either yourself or somebody else, you can either reply to this message (use "Reply" instead of "Reply to All") or write to either of the current co-chairs, Jim O'Brien (jimobrien48@gmail.com) or Marc Becker (marc@yachana.org).  If you are nominating yourself, please use the following template. 


Institution (if any):


Historical Specialization:

Political Background:

Reason for Running:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Re: [haw-info] sad news about Howard Zinn

Members and friends of Historians Against the War,

In order to commemorate the passing of Howard Zinn, we have set up a web
page to post memorials in his honor. The webpage is


If you would like to post something to this page, email your thoughts
and memories to HAW's co-chair and web editor Marc Becker at


Historians Against the War

Note: You are receiving this email because you signed a Historians Against the War statement (see http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/) or asked to be including in HAW's informational mailings. If you no longer wish to receive these occasional messages about HAW's work, send an email to haw-info-request@stopthewars.org?subject=unsubscribe.
haw-info mailing list

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

[haw-info] sad news about Howard Zinn

Members and friends of Historians Against the War,
For those who have not already heard, we are very sorry to pass along the news that Howard Zinn died today of a heart attack while visiting in California.  He was 87.  There will undoubtedly be many stories in coming days, but the following is one that appeared this evening in the on-line Boston Globe, with basic information and a number of quotes.
Howard was a near-icon among anti-war historians, and HAW was proud to have him as a keynote speaker at our first national conference, in Austin, Texas in February 2006.  We join his legion of friends and admirers worldwide who will miss his eloquent and principled voice.

Friday, January 22, 2010

[haw-info] HAW Notes (with links to recent articles of interest)

To members and friends of Historians Against the War


Here are some notes, followed by our biweekly set of links to history-related articles on HAW-relevant topics.


1.  Talks given at the HAW panel at this year's AHA convention ("Obama's Troubling First Year: What Went Wrong, and What Can Historians Do About It?") have been posted on the HAW web site, at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/aha10.  They include the introduction to the panel by Andor Skotnes and talks by Nelson Lichtenstein and Margaret Power.


2.  Mike Zweig of U.S. Labor Against the War has made a partly historical video entitled "Why Are We in Afghanistan."  The 27-minute video can be seen at http://www.WhyAreWeInAfghanistan.org, and this web page also has ordering information.


3.  The Radical History Review has issued a call for proposals for a special issue on "Historicizing 9/11," focusing on ways in which the September 11, 2001 events have been rendered as history.  The issue will include a section on experiences of people who have taught about these events at the college or K-12 levels. The call for proposals is at http://chnm.gmu.edu/rhr/calls.htm; the deadline is February 15.



Links to Recent Articles of Interest


"No Exit: America Has an Impressive Record of Starting Wars but a Dismal One of Ending Them Well"


By Andrew Bacevich, American Conservative, February 1 issue

The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University.


"Haiti's Troubled History with the U.S. and France"


By Marc Becker, History News Network, posted January 19

The author teaches Latin American history at Truman State University. This article was sent in e-mail form to the HAW-Info list on January 17.


"U.S. Military Escalation in Afghanistan: A Response to President Obama"


By Richard Drake, History News Network, posted January 18

The author teaches history at the University of Montana


[review essay on The Guantanamo Lawyers and Guantanamo USA]


By Jeremy Kuzmarov, History News Network, posted January 17

The author teaches history at the University of Tulsa


"Iran, 1979 and 2010"


By Dilip Hiro and Tom Englehardt, TomDispatch.com, posted January 12


"Nuclear Terrorism: How It Can Be Prevented"


By Lawrence S. Wittner, History News Network, posted January 11

The author teaches history at Vassar College


"Yemen: The Latest U.S. Battleground"


By Stephen Zunes, Huffington Post, posted January 8


"Obama's Alternate Universe"


By Scott Ritter, Truthdig.com, posted January 8



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

[haw-info] call for candidates for the HAW Steering Committee

To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
In a few weeks we will conduct e-mail voting for members of the HAW Steering Committee.  The Steering Committee, elected once a year, makes decisions for HAW in between the annual meetings at the AHA.  Aside from one face-to-face meeting in the summer, the SC conducts business through e-mail and occasional conference calls. 
Eligibility to run, and to vote, will depend on being a member of HAW at the time of the actual election.  (See below.)
If you would like to run (and we encourage you to consider it) or if you would like to nominate someone, let us know. 
If you are nominating yourself, please send a brief description, using the template at the end of this message, by January 25 to either of the current co-chairs (addresses are below).  If you are nominating someone else, please send us the name and e-mail address sooner so we can contact them and see if they are willing.
If you have any questions, feel free to write to either of us with questions.
Thank you,
Jim O'Brien (jimobrien48@gmail.com) and Marc Becker (marc@yachana.org)
current co-chairs of the HAW Steering Committee
* Last spring HAW (by a referendum vote of 196-14) adopted a new defining statement, with the specification that membership would now be open to anyone who is in "substantial agreement" (self-defined) with the statement and wants to be considered a member.  The statement, and an on-line form for joining, are on the HAW home page at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/statement.html.  A list of people currently registered as members is at http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/aha10/members.html.
Historical Specialization:
Political Background:
Reason for Running:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tet in Kabul...

This morning over breakfast I am watching reports about the battle in Kabul on CNN International. I have no way of knowing what is really happening, which reports are true, exaggerated, or misleading. I am not accusing CNN of anything, nor praising them. But the resemblance to discourses surrounding the Vietnam war is striking, despite the evidence that this is, at least in scale, nothing on the order of the spring, 1968 Tet offensive, involving only a few dozen Taliban at most.

- One reporter speaking live from Kabul made the point that the Taliban has shown that it can go on the offensive in Kabul and penetrate deep into the capital and secured areas. This is precisely the claim made during and after Tet. The U.S. military claimed, quite plausibly, that they had won the battle militarily (and that will probably be the case this time as well). They thwarted all attacks and the Vietcong made no permanent gains. But it was the demonstration of offensive capability, after months of U.S. military claims that they were winning and breaking the Vietcong, that supposedly turned Tet into communist/nationalist victory. Thus, according to the mainstream American narrative, the media turned a military victory into a military defeat by interpreting it as a defeat (for example in this blog story about media coverage).

- There are vague and speculative reports on CNN about where the Taliban penetrated and how far they got in. How far into the presidential compound did they get? How many layers of security did they penetrate? This sounds exactly like discussions about how many Vietcong got into the U.S. embassy compound and how far into the compound they got (how many meters beyond the wall, whether they got into the building, if so which story they reached, etc.). Together with coverage of the My Lai massacre, reports from the media which exaggerated Vietcong successes in the U.S. embassy in Saigon are now the centerpiece of claims that the U.S. media lost the war for the United States and the Republic of South Vietnam, for example in the 1984 documentary, Vietnam War - The Impact of the Media, hosted by Charlton Heston.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

[haw-info] Haiti

I returned from Haiti just a couple of days before a powerful earthquake rocked the country on January 12. I was in Haiti on a solidarity delegation to document human rights abuses by the United Nations Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) and to observe preparations for February's legislative elections. Other members of the HAW Steering Committee encouraged me to share my thoughts with the broader HAW membership and friends on the historical background to this catastrophe.

Many people have observed that the Haitian earthquake was more a political disaster than a natural one. The similarly powerful 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in California killed 63 people, while the death toll in Haiti appears as if it may soar over 100,000. Our experiences in the country confirmed that the solution to Haiti's problem is political in nature.

Two hundred some years ago Haiti was the richest colony in the world, but today it is the poorest and most unequal country in the Americas. A successful slave revolt in 1804 defeated the French planter class, but the only other independent country in the Americas, the United States, refused to welcome a Black Republic because of the powerful example it set for marginalized and oppressed people everywhere. The French demanded a 150 million franc payment from the Haitians for losing their prized pearl of the Antilles. Haiti made the payment, strangling any possibility for development, and sacrificing its future so as not to be seen as an international pariah.

In Haiti, we heard from grassroots activists who complained that large international aid agencies collect funds for administrative salaries, vehicles, and office support, but little of this money filters down to the people who need it the most. Dumping cheap rice on the country has destroyed the local agricultural economy. Haiti has a desperate short-term need for assistance, but this aid must be funneled through groups like Doctors Without Borders (http://doctorswithoutborders.org/) and Partners in Health (http://www.pih.org/) that have a track record and distribution networks necessary in place to make proper use of the aid.

The longer term solution, however, is political. Already conservative pundits are proclaiming that the earthquake is an opportunity to remake the country along neoliberal lines. But the extraction of natural resources, creation of low-wage jobs, and privatization of government functions are factors that have left Haiti incapable of responding to a natural disaster.

Haiti has never recovered from the ostracization it faced from the French and United States governments at independence, and ongoing international policies appear to be designed to sink the country deeper into debt. The U.S. marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934, and the earthquake seems to provide a convenient excuse for the United States once again to land military troops and reassert its imperial control over the country.

In 2004, the French, United States, and Canadian governments removed popular leftist president Jean Bertrand Aristide who promised to shift resources to the most marginalized sectors of society. They have insisted that the current government ban his Fanmi Lavalas, the largest political party in Haiti, from participating in electoral contests.

The solution to Haiti's problems is to allow the country to develop its own economy and political system without constant outside intervention. Otherwise, Haiti's next natural calamity will be worse than this one, and the country will continue to sink deeper into poverty,inequality,
and social exclusion.

Marc Becker Associate Professor of Latin American History
Truman State University

More information is available on his website
http://www.yachana.org/reports/haiti/. For more in depth information on the historical background and current events in Haiti, see:

C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins; Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution, 2d rev ed. (New York: Vintage Books, 1963).

Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Amy Wilentz, In the parish of the poor:
Writings from Haiti (Maryknoll, N.Y: Orbis Books, 1990).

Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Laura Flynn, Eyes of the heart: Seeking a path for the poor in the age of globalization (Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000).

David Patrick Geggus, Haitian revolutionary studies, Blacks in the diaspora (Bloomington, Ind: Indiana University Press, 2002).

Garry Wills, "Negro president" Jefferson and the slave power (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003).

Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, Haiti: the breached citadel, Rev. and updated ed. (Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press, 2004).

Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The story of the Haitian
Revolution (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press,

Laurent Dubois and John D. Garrigus, ed., Slave Revolution in the
Caribbean, 1789-1804: A brief history with documents, Bedford Series in
History and Culture (Boston, MA ; New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006).

Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti, 3rd ed. (Monroe, Me: Common Courage
Press, 2006).

Randall Robinson, An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, from revolution to the
kidnapping of a president (New York: Basic Civitas, 2008).

David Patrick Geggus and Norman Fiering, ed., The World of the Haitian Revolution, Blacks in the diaspora (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).

Note: You are receiving this email because you signed a Historians Against the War statement (see http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/) or asked to be including in HAW's informational mailings. If you no longer wish to receive these occasional messages about HAW's work, send an email to haw-info-request@stopthewars.org?subject=unsubscribe.
haw-info mailing list