Generational Dynamics: Forecasting America's Destiny Generational
 Forecasting America's Destiny ... and the World's


Generational Dynamics Web Log for 17-Jan-2010
Haiti, seething with ethnic violence, may require US forces for a long time

Web Log - January, 2010

Haiti, seething with ethnic violence, may require US forces for a long time

President Obama promises "months and even years" of support for Haiti.

In his White House remarks on Saturday, President Obama appointed President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton to lead a major fundraising effort for Haiti: the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund at

He added,

"And Secretary Hillary Clinton will be in Haiti today to meet with President Préval and continue our close coordination with his government. But we also know that our longer-term effort will not be measured in days and weeks; it will be measured in months and even years. And that's why it's so important to enlist and sustain the support of the American people. That's why it's so important to have a point of coordination for all the support that extends beyond our government."

The earthquake devastation is so bad that there's widespread concern that Haiti will become a major new commitment for America's armed forces that can last for years. This will add one more country, besides Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Yemen, where American forces will be committed.

Mulattos versus Noirs in Haiti

The last time that I wrote much about Haiti was in 2004, when the government was collapsing and the country appeared close to total anarchy and possibly civil war from ethnic tensions. That scenario was prevented by large amounts of aid and lots of UN peacekeepers.

During the 1700s, the island was an extremely wealthy French colony, thanks to crops sugar, rum, coffee and cotton -- and thanks to the efforts of 500,000 slaves that the French had imported from Africa.

By the end of the 1700s, there were three groups of Haitians: The "whites," native Europeans; the "noirs" or "blacks," native black Africans whom the French imported as slaves; and the "mulattos," the children of mixed European and African blood.

Poor neighborhood in Haiti, prior to the earthquake.
Poor neighborhood in Haiti, prior to the earthquake.

At that time, the mulattos were theoretically free, but in practice had as few rights as the noirs. In 1791, the noirs and the mulattos united in a violent slave rebellion that led to a 13-year civil war, resulting in formal recognition, in 1804, of Haiti as the second Republic in the Western hemisphere. However, the United States didn't grant Haiti diplomatic recognition until 1862 -- when Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation freed America's slaves during the Civil War.

Today the mulattos are a small French-speaking minority, under 5% of the population, generally light-skinned, but a "market-dominant" minority, controlling well over 50% of the nation's wealth. The noirs generally live in extreme poverty, and speak Creole, a mixture of French and African language elements. (Other different variations of Creole are spoken throughout the Caribbean, including parts of Louisiana.)

After the whites were overthrown in 1804, the mulattos became the new élite class. There was a new crisis civil war in the late 1840s, followed by several decades of peace and the growth of a Haitian intellectual culture. However, there was one bloodless coup after another, resulting in a succession of dozens of Presidents.

The 1915 coup was different, in that it turned into a major generational crisis rebellion. With total anarchy breaking out, President Woodrow Wilson eventually felt it necessary to take complete control of all governmental and financial institutions in Haiti.

The American armed forces remained in Haiti for 20 years, withdrawing only in 1934.

American armed forces came back in 1994, when it appeared that Haiti was once again heading for anarchy. The same thing happened in 2004. Now, after the earthquake, things are worse than ever.

Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, and is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, with the average income at about $3.50 per day per person. In addition, Haiti has the least water availability per capita of any nation in the world. In 2008, Haiti became an international story when there were huge food riots, with violence quelled by large increases in aid.

With so much poverty, there's nothing left for obvious services like cleaning garbage out of the street, resulting in pictures like the one shown above, which is typical. And with the population growing at almost 2% a year, Haiti is also suffering from the "Malthus effect" (population grows faster than available food and water), making poverty worse each year.

Petionville, Haiti
Petionville, Haiti

Of course, not all streets of Haiti are covered with garbage. Here's a photo of Petionville from a Haiti travel site. Residents of Petionville are wealthy, mostly mulattos.

From the French phrase "rester avec" (stay with), restaveks (or restavecs) are the over 250,000 children who are sold or given away by their parents to other families. The children, usually noirs, are from families that can't afford to feed them, given to wealthy families, often mulattos.

Restaveks, as young as 5 years old, generally get no education, but are required to work all day as domestic servants.

Growing desperation and violence in Haiti

This is the environment in which the earthquake occurred. Haiti's society was already very fragile, with unemployment above 70% and most people dependent on foreign aid.

The earthquake has killed tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Haitians across the country. Most buildings have collapsed, and there are thousands of dead bodies buried under the wreckage. The streets are filled with more dead bodies. Survivors are forced to sleep in the streets, for fear that an aftershock may cause other buildings to collapse.

The BBC reports that Haitians are becoming increasingly desperate, and looting and violence by roving gangs are spreading. This is made worse by the fact that the main prison also collapsed, freeing thousands of prisoners. Many roads are blocked by bodies and debris, making the distribution of aid difficult or impossible.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is a generational crisis civil war waiting to happen, across the mulatto vs noir fault line.

When anarchy broke out in 1994, and again in 2004, there would undoubtedly have been a civil war at that time, if it hadn't been for massive international aid and peacekeeping.

Haitian blogs and discussion forums

This situation has grown palpably worse since then.

One of the signs of this is the blogs and online discussions about Haiti, and here there's a story to be told.

When I do one of these analytical reports for this web site, I usually review dozens of online sources. These include current news stories, historical accounts, and international blogs and discussion forums. The latter are important because there you get a feel for what the people are saying and doing that goes beyond the politically correct mainstream media.

Here is one comment that appeared on a YouTube site on Saturday: "i jumped for joy upon hearing of the haiti earthquake. the sound of buildings collapsing is music to my ears. the sight of arms and legs sticking out from the rubble is awesome. blood streaming out from mangled bodies of hookers and johns under collapsed brothels holds great artistic value. the view of thousands of n----r bodies lined up is spectacular. i love the way that bodies are stacked up for bonfires. the streets of haiti is awash in n----r blood. there are now less n----rs to feed."

When you read a quote like that, of course you think, "That's crazy. That's the exception; few of them are like that." Amazingly, that not's true. The above quote is actually typical of the online discourse on Haiti. I don't believe I've ever seen anything like this. For example, I've read many online discussions by Palestinians and Israelis, and there's nothing like what I've seen for online discussions of Haiti.

The only thing I can conclude from this is that the seething hatred in Haiti's population and diaspora is greater than almost any other population on earth. Perhaps one could have guessed this anyway from the level of poverty and the highly visible contrast between garbage-strewn noir neighborhoods versus well-kept mulatto neighborhoods, maintained by noir restaveks, but the online discussions really make it clear.

This has significant implications for the United States.

At the very least, looting and violence are going to increase at least in the short run, with the possibility of thousands of "boat people" headed for the shores of Florida. But with most of Haiti's infrastructure destroyed in the earthquake, providing aid and peacekeeping is going to be next to impossible for many regions outside of Port-au-Prince.

Because of the danger that this violence could spiral into unlimited civil war, the United States and the United Nations will be under pressure for full-scale military intervention. This would end up being one more major military commitment for the United States, as President Obama said, "for months and even years."

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the Haiti thread of the Generational Dynamics forum.) (17-Jan-2010) Permanent Link
Receive daily World View columns by e-mail
Donate to Generational Dynamics via PayPal

Web Log Pages

Current Web Log

Web Log Summary - 2016
Web Log Summary - 2015
Web Log Summary - 2014
Web Log Summary - 2013
Web Log Summary - 2012
Web Log Summary - 2011
Web Log Summary - 2010
Web Log Summary - 2009
Web Log Summary - 2008
Web Log Summary - 2007
Web Log Summary - 2006
Web Log Summary - 2005
Web Log Summary - 2004

Web Log - December, 2016
Web Log - November, 2016
Web Log - October, 2016
Web Log - September, 2016
Web Log - August, 2016
Web Log - July, 2016
Web Log - June, 2016
Web Log - May, 2016
Web Log - April, 2016
Web Log - March, 2016
Web Log - February, 2016
Web Log - January, 2016
Web Log - December, 2015
Web Log - November, 2015
Web Log - October, 2015
Web Log - September, 2015
Web Log - August, 2015
Web Log - July, 2015
Web Log - June, 2015
Web Log - May, 2015
Web Log - April, 2015
Web Log - March, 2015
Web Log - February, 2015
Web Log - January, 2015
Web Log - December, 2014
Web Log - November, 2014
Web Log - October, 2014
Web Log - September, 2014
Web Log - August, 2014
Web Log - July, 2014
Web Log - June, 2014
Web Log - May, 2014
Web Log - April, 2014
Web Log - March, 2014
Web Log - February, 2014
Web Log - January, 2014
Web Log - December, 2013
Web Log - November, 2013
Web Log - October, 2013
Web Log - September, 2013
Web Log - August, 2013
Web Log - July, 2013
Web Log - June, 2013
Web Log - May, 2013
Web Log - April, 2013
Web Log - March, 2013
Web Log - February, 2013
Web Log - January, 2013
Web Log - December, 2012
Web Log - November, 2012
Web Log - October, 2012
Web Log - September, 2012
Web Log - August, 2012
Web Log - July, 2012
Web Log - June, 2012
Web Log - May, 2012
Web Log - April, 2012
Web Log - March, 2012
Web Log - February, 2012
Web Log - January, 2012
Web Log - December, 2011
Web Log - November, 2011
Web Log - October, 2011
Web Log - September, 2011
Web Log - August, 2011
Web Log - July, 2011
Web Log - June, 2011
Web Log - May, 2011
Web Log - April, 2011
Web Log - March, 2011
Web Log - February, 2011
Web Log - January, 2011
Web Log - December, 2010
Web Log - November, 2010
Web Log - October, 2010
Web Log - September, 2010
Web Log - August, 2010
Web Log - July, 2010
Web Log - June, 2010
Web Log - May, 2010
Web Log - April, 2010
Web Log - March, 2010
Web Log - February, 2010
Web Log - January, 2010
Web Log - December, 2009
Web Log - November, 2009
Web Log - October, 2009
Web Log - September, 2009
Web Log - August, 2009
Web Log - July, 2009
Web Log - June, 2009
Web Log - May, 2009
Web Log - April, 2009
Web Log - March, 2009
Web Log - February, 2009
Web Log - January, 2009
Web Log - December, 2008
Web Log - November, 2008
Web Log - October, 2008
Web Log - September, 2008
Web Log - August, 2008
Web Log - July, 2008
Web Log - June, 2008
Web Log - May, 2008
Web Log - April, 2008
Web Log - March, 2008
Web Log - February, 2008
Web Log - January, 2008
Web Log - December, 2007
Web Log - November, 2007
Web Log - October, 2007
Web Log - September, 2007
Web Log - August, 2007
Web Log - July, 2007
Web Log - June, 2007
Web Log - May, 2007
Web Log - April, 2007
Web Log - March, 2007
Web Log - February, 2007
Web Log - January, 2007
Web Log - December, 2006
Web Log - November, 2006
Web Log - October, 2006
Web Log - September, 2006
Web Log - August, 2006
Web Log - July, 2006
Web Log - June, 2006
Web Log - May, 2006
Web Log - April, 2006
Web Log - March, 2006
Web Log - February, 2006
Web Log - January, 2006
Web Log - December, 2005
Web Log - November, 2005
Web Log - October, 2005
Web Log - September, 2005
Web Log - August, 2005
Web Log - July, 2005
Web Log - June, 2005
Web Log - May, 2005
Web Log - April, 2005
Web Log - March, 2005
Web Log - February, 2005
Web Log - January, 2005
Web Log - December, 2004
Web Log - November, 2004
Web Log - October, 2004
Web Log - September, 2004
Web Log - August, 2004
Web Log - July, 2004
Web Log - June, 2004

Copyright © 2002-2016 by John J. Xenakis.