Today is presidential election day in Haiti, but President Bush doesn’t seem to have taken notice. The last time Bush even mentioned Haiti was three months ago. In his State of the Union address, Bush said:
Abroad, our nation is committed to an historic, long-term goal — we seek the end of tyranny in our world. Some dismiss that goal as misguided idealism. In reality, the future security of America depends on it. … Every step toward freedom in the world makes our country safer — so we will act boldly in freedom’s cause.
But for the 8 million Haitians who live a mere 600 miles from the U.S. shore, Bush’s words ring hollow. Former Sen. Tom Daschle argues that the administration’s mishandling of Haiti “threatens further instability in a country not far from America’s shores.”
As just one example of the administration’s neglect of Haiti, simply compare the experiences of the Iraqi and Haitian elections.
Voting has got off to a rough start in volatile Haiti as angry mobs stormed voting centers that failed to open on time, with one person dying of a heart attack and another of asphyxia. Several more people were injured or fainted as they were trampled or shoved by crowds that rushed voting offices on Tuesday.
By increasing American troop strength in Iraq, banning all civilian car traffic and ordering a host of other security measures American and Iraqi forces widely thwarted insurgents who had threatened to wash the streets with blood on election day.
“We need tables, we need chairs, we need lights and someone needs to clean the floor, it’s dirty,” said a poll supervisor at a trash-strewn warehouse that was serving as a polling center but failed to open on time.
In the run-up to Iraq’s elections, the State Department’s spokesman this week ticked off the final markers of progress: 130 planeloads of voting materials had landed in Iraq, including 90,000 ballot boxes and 60 million ballots — a flurry of up to 15 flights a day to Iraqi airfields. In a last-minute American role, officials said, the U.S. military will assist today in distributing the equipment to polling stations.