A U.S.-Kenyan Rescue in Haiti and its Implications for American Foreign Policy

Violence has engulfed Haiti in recent months, with gangs controlling much of the country. In response, Washington is supporting a Kenyan-led armed intervention in Haiti, which comes in the backdrop of largely failed previous international interventions. With Kenyan President William Ruto coming to Washington on May 23 in what will be the first state visit by an African leader to the United States since 2008,  what are the benefits and risks of the U.S.-Kenya security relationship in Haiti and East Africa.?  Will this new intervention succeed where others have largely failed? And more generally, how should the U.S. respond to instability in failing and failed states?

To discuss these questions and more, the Quincy Institute held a conversation with Ambassador Daniel Foote, Former United States Special Envoy for Haiti, Samar Al-Bulushi, Quincy Institute Non-Resident Fellow and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Irvine, and Jake Johnston, Senior Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Sarang Shidore, Director of the Global South program at the Quincy Institute, moderated the conversation.


Ambassador Daniel Foote

Daniel Lewis Foote is an American diplomat and career member of the Senior Foreign Service who was the United States Special Envoy for Haiti from July to September 2021. He formerly served as the United States Ambassador to Zambia, as well as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL). Foote also served as the Coordinating Director at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, managing all U.S. civilian foreign assistance and law enforcement activities in Afghanistan.

Samar Al-Bulushi

Samar Al-Bulushi is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at University of California, Irvine. Her book, War-Making as World-Making: Kenya, the United States and the War on Terror (Stanford University Press), argues that Kenya’s emergence as a key player in the “war on terror” is closely linked—but not reducible to—the U.S. military’s growing proclivity to outsource the labor of war. Al-Bulushi is a former contributing editor at Africa is a Country and has published in a variety of public outlets on topics ranging from the International Criminal Court to the militarization of U.S. policy in Africa.

Jake Johnston

Jake Johnston is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) in Washington, D.C. His research focuses on economic policy in Latin America, the International Monetary Fund and US foreign policy. He is the lead author for CEPR’s Haiti: Relief and Reconstruction Watch blog and his articles and op-eds have been published in outlets such as The New York Times, The Nation, The Intercept, Le Monde Diplomatique, Boston Review, and Al Jazeera. His book, Aid State: Elite Panic, Disaster Capitalism, and the Battle to Control Haiti, covers how foreign aid and intervention has helped to destabilize Haiti.

Sarang Shidore

Sarang Shidore is Director of the Global South Program at the Quincy Institute, and a senior non-resident fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty at George Washington University, where he teaches a class on the geopolitics of climate change. His areas of research and analysis are geopolitical risk, grand strategy, and climate security, with a special emphasis on the Global South and Asia. Sarang has more than 100 publications to his credit in journals, edited volumes, and media outlets in his areas of expertise, including in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Nation, South China Morning Post, Council on Foreign Relations and others.