The U.S. Should Let Haitians Decide Their Own Future

Haiti’s simmering political crisis reached a boil late last month when local armed groups, led in part by ex-cop Jimmy “Barbecue” Chérizier, declared war on Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s government. In just a few weeks, these disparate gangs have forced Henry to step down and enter impromptu exile in Puerto Rico as unrest wracks his country.

But fear not—as Haiti descends into political chaos, Washington’s brightest minds have developed a two-pronged plan to fix it. It’s a classic of the genre.

The Biden administration’s plan revolves around a Kenyan-led police intervention to restore order, which the United Nations Security Council approved last year. On the political side, the U.S. is leading talks in Jamaica to install a transitional council that would take Henry’s place until new elections can be held.

But there’s a catch. Anyone who wants a seat on the council must agree to an international intervention, leaving all Haitians opposed to such a move out of the conversation. Worse, Kenyan courts have serious reservations about sending their police to fix a crisis abroad; following Henry’s resignation, authorities in Nairobi have said they will consider deploying security forces only once a new government is in place and a fact-finding mission can be conducted. This is perhaps why the U.S. has haltingly begun to entertain the idea of sending American troops as part of an international coalition to restore order.