Au Revoir, Aristide

A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers.
March 1 2004 4:34 AM

Au Revoir, Aristide

Everybody leads with President Aristide's resignation and flight from Haiti, after which the White House dispatched a few hundred Marines to lead a peacekeeping force there. Authorized by the Security Council last night, the force will at least initially be led by Marines and will include a few hundred troops and police officers from Canada and France. Per Haiti's constitution, the country's chief justice became president and will be a caretaker until elections sometime in the next year. Rebel leaders pledged their "full cooperation" with the incoming force. 

After the announcement of Aristide's departure, Haitians in the capital looted while the police got into a few fights with pro-Aristide gangs. But as the day wore on, the country's police regained control, and a dusk curfew was enforced. The New York Times says the administration is hoping that a "modest show of force" will stabilize the situation. The Los Angeles Times guesses the Marines will stay for "weeks," though it adds that police trainers and other nation-builder types might be sent in for the long-term. 

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The Washington Post and NYT both have good tick-tock pieces on Aristide's ouster. Apparently, he realized he was up the river Saturday when the White House released a statement saying the crisis is "largely of Aristide's making." (They made that announcement after pro-Aristide supporters attacked a Haitian Coast Guard unit, presumably to try to stop refugees from being repatriated.) After that statement, Aristide called the U.S. ambassador in town and asked what he thought would be best for Haiti. The ambassador called him back with an answer: "Pick your destination." Aristide was gone by 6:45 a.m., courtesy of a Pentagon plane. Denied entry by South Africa, Aristide eventually landed in the Central African Republic.

Recounting the White House's evolving stance over the past few weeks, a WP news piece says: "A central question was whether the Bush administration should have acted sooner and more decisively." Editorials in the Postand NYT say yes and yes.

Finally, an LAT story inside wonders whether the White House is going to stick it out, noting that "even some Republicans wary of foreign aid" are pushing the administration to stay for the long haul. "You're going to have the burden, no matter how you slice it," said one Republican rep. "I don't think anybody's going to walk away from this."

The NYT off-leads the Iraqi Governing Council's passage of an interim constitution, after members pulled an all-nighter. The constitution calls for Islam to be a source of legislation and says laws shouldn't impinge on the "tenets of Islam." But it also says that no legislation should contradict any of the rights codified in the constitution. Meanwhile, Kurdish groups were allowed to keep their militias and autonomy, but they did not get to regain control of some land they wanted.

Citing Iraqi and U.S. officials, the NYT says that Iraq's oil production has made a "remarkable turn-around." Production is at near pre-war levels and a CPA official says it could earn Iraq $14 billion this year, up from about $5 billion last year.

The Post off-leads and NYT fronts the final pre-Super Tuesday debate, during which Sen. Edwards finally took off the gloves. Edwards, who is trying to appear "tougher" on trade, derided Sen. Kerry's proposal to take 120 days to review trade agreements as "the same Washington talk." Kerry noted that his positions on trade were just about the same as Edwards'. And he added, "Last time I looked, John ran for the United States Senate, and he's been in the Senate for the last five years. That seems to me to be Washington, D.C." The Post says inside that Edwards tried not to be too mean, since he's hoping not to close off any job possibilities, even, say, second-tier ones. It might be too late. The WP says, "Kerry allies say privately that the senator is not a particular fan of Edwards." (Slate's Will Saletan also has a debate wrap-up.)

A piece inside the NYT says we won't be hearing much more from President Bush about banning gay marriage, guessing that last week's speech will stand as "his major show on the issue." Some in the White House, the Times explains, say "the president would have been better off keeping his opinions to himself."

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