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To: George W. Bush

From: Jude Wanniski

Re: A Commitment to Haiti

You’re getting tons of advice, I know, but I can’t resist making a
suggestion that I believe would help your presidential campaign in these
last few weeks: I think you should tell the nation that once elected,
your first act of foreign-policy would be to send a team of supply-side
economists, headed by Jack Kemp, to Haiti, to help the Haitian
government get on an economic fast-track. As Haiti has come up in the
debates, you have stated you would not have invaded that impoverished
island nation because you are opposed to using our military for “nation
building.” I agreed with you completely, but as you know, the Republican
Party is divided on that issue. The old Cold Warriors, always looking
for something to bomb, take continual potshots at Gen. Colin Powell for
his reluctance to build nations with bombers. Here, for example, is
Tunku Varadarajan, one of the Wall Street Journal editorial page
editors, in a Monday op-ed, “The Case for ‘Nation Building’”:

    Aspects of Mr. Bush’s foreign policy trouble me, and here’s why.
    He appears to be dogmatically opposed to “nation-building,” as well as
    to be wedded to the belief that the U.S. should be “a humble nation.”
    His advisers will say, no doubt, that his position is a pragmatic one,
    akin to the conservative realism of his father’s foreign policy,
    scripted largely by Brent Scowcroft. Certainly, that is the intellectual
    tenor imparted by Condoleezza Rice, his redoubtable adviser on foreign
    affairs. But I detect another flavor in Mr. Bush’s foreign policy — the
    quasi-isolationism of Colin Powell. “I wouldn’t have sent troops to
    Haiti,” (Bush) said in the early stages of the debate. “I didn’t think
    it was a mission worthwhile. It was a nation-building mission.” The last
    phrase was uttered often in the debate, always with distaste, and
    contrasted always with “strategic interests,” the endangering of which
    would give rise to the only situations where U.S. intervention is
    acceptable.

I’m sure you’re not aware, governor, that when we were pondering
invasion of Haiti in 1994, I was advising Senate Minority Leader Bob
Dole on a daily basis. I urged him to ask President Clinton to send a
fact-finding mission to Haiti before he sent troops. I recommended Gen.
Colin Powell for the assignment. Dole agreed, got Clinton to agree, and
a team was sent, with Powell joined by two Democrats, former President
Jimmy Carter and Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn. It was Powell, though, who
persuaded the Haitian military regime to step down peacefully, even as
the U.S. Marines prepared to
invade. I’d also advised Dole to urge Clinton to follow-up with a team
of economic specialists, headed by Jack Kemp. Inasmuch as Dole still
viewed Kemp as a potential competitor for the GOP nomination in 1996,
that did not happen. Haiti was returned to the tender mercies of the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which has employed all its
usual poisonous nostrums to keep the poor people of Haiti in a perpetual
state of desperate poverty.

Jack would be available, I’m sure, as he has now retired to a role as
elder statesman. It would not take him and his team more than a week or
two to help Haiti figure out how to “nation build” without bombs or U.S.
troops.

If you decide to do this, governor, it should be more than a vague
promise, and you should make it clear that the people you would send
would understand the nature of economic growth. I say that from bitter
experience. In 1980, when I was advising Ronald Reagan in his campaign
for the presidency, I urged that he make the island economy of Jamaica
his first target of foreign policy. Back then, Jamaica was probably the
most politically troubled of all the Caribbean island economies, its
prime minister, the late Michael Manley a pure Keynesian with a Ph.D. in
economics from the London School of Economics. (In early 1976, I’d
written an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about Manley and Jamaica,
“How to Destroy an Island Paradise.”)

Imagine my shock when Reagan was inaugurated in January 1981 and said
his first act of foreign policy would be to send a delegation to
Jamaica. The voters having ousted Manley in their own 1980 elections,
Reagan clearly was offering to help it rebuild the wreckage wrought by
Manley’s Keynesian formulas. Great news, huh? Sorry. Where the Gipper
had seen the wisdom of my suggestion, his newfound friends on Wall
Street, who had been making fun of him a year earlier, persuaded him to
send David Rockefeller to Kingston. David Rockefeller! The upshot was
that the new regime in Jamaica was granted a new multi-million dollar
loan package on “favorable terms,” to help pay down their New York bank
loans. There were no recommendations from the Rockefeller team to deal
with the oppressive tax system or the confetti currency.

The greatest failure of the Reagan administration, I’ve always felt,
was the president’s failure to confront the power elite in the banks and
insist upon supply-side reforms of the IMF. Certainly a Gore
administration would never attempt such reforms, with Keynesian Ph.D.
Larry Summers at Treasury and Bob Rubin representing the interests of
Citigroup as well as his old pals at Goldman, Sachs. Heck, they might
dust off David Rockefeller to go to Port-au-Prince, to cook up a new
low-interest loan.

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