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Letter to Congressional Leaders on Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Haiti

September 18, 1994

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

I am providing this report, consistent with the sense of Congress in section 8147(c) of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 1994 (Public Law 103-139), to advise you of the objectives and character of the planned deployment of U.S. Armed Forces into Haiti.

(1) The deployment of U.S. Armed Forces into Haiti is justified by United States national security interests: to restore democratic government to Haiti; to stop the brutal atrocities that threaten tens of thousands of Haitians; to secure our borders; to preserve stability and promote democracy in our hemisphere; and to uphold the reliability of the commitments we make and the commitments others make to us.

From the very beginning of the coup against the democratic government of Haiti, the United States and the rest of the international community saw the regime as a threat to our interests in this hemisphere. Indeed President Bush declared that the coup "constitute[d] an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."

The United States' interest in Haiti is rooted in a consistent U.S. policy, since the 1991 coup, to help restore democratic government to that nation. The United States has a particular interest in responding to gross abuses of human rights when they occur so close to our shores.

The departure of the coup leaders from power is also the best way to stem another mass outflow of Haitians, with consequences for the stability of our region and control of our borders. Continuing unconstitutional rule in Haiti would threaten the stability of other countries in this hemisphere by emboldening elements opposed to democracy and freedom.

The agreement regarding the transition between the de facto government and the elected government, negotiated by former President Jimmy Carter, Senator Sam Nunn, and General Colin Powell, will achieve the objective of facilitating the departure of the coup leaders. Their departure will substantially decrease the likelihood of armed resistance.

(2) Despite this agreement, this military operation is not without risk. Necessary steps have been taken to ensure the safety and security of U.S. Armed Forces. Our intention is to deploy a force of sufficient size to serve as a deterrent to armed resistance. The force will have a highly visible and robust presence with firepower ample to overwhelm any localized threat. This will minimize casualties and maximize our capability to ensure that essential civil order is maintained and the agreement arrived at is implemented. The force's rules of engagement allow for the use of necessary and proportionate force to protect friendly personnel and units and to provide for individual self-defense, thereby ensuring that our forces can respond effectively to threats and are not made targets by reason of their rules of engagement.

(3) The proposed mission and objectives are most appropriate for U.S. Armed Forces, and the forces proposed for deployment are necessary and sufficient to accomplish the objectives of the proposed mission. Pursuant to U.N. Security Council Resolution 940, a multinational coalition has been assembled to use "all necessary means" to restore the democratic government to Haiti and to provide a stable and secure environment for the implementation of the Governors Island Accords. The deployment of U.S. Armed Forces is required to ensure that United States national security interests with respect to Haiti remain unchallenged and to underscore the reliability of U.S. and UN commitments.

This crisis affects the interests of the United States and other members of the world community alike, and thus warrants and has received the participation of responsible states in the coalition to redress the situation. The United States is playing a predominant role because it is the leading military power in the hemisphere, and accordingly, has the influence and military capability to lead such an operation. The coalition is made up of representatives from 25 member nations, including the United States. During the initial phase of the operation, the force will be of sufficient size to overwhelm any opposition that might arise despite the existence of the agreement. In the follow-on, transitional phase, forces from other members of the coalition will assume increasingly important roles. At all times when U.S. forces are deployed in whatever phase, they will be equipped, commanded, and empowered so as to ensure their own protection.

(4) Clear objectives for the deployment have been established. These limited objectives are: to facilitate the departure of the military leadership, the prompt return of the legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate authorities of the Government of Haiti. We will assist the Haitian government in creating a civilian-controlled security force. We will also ensure the protection of U.S. citizens and U.S. facilities.

(5) An exit strategy for ending the deployment has been identified. Our presence in Haiti will not be open-ended. After a period of months, the coalition will be replaced by a UN peacekeeping force (UNMIH). By that time, the bulk of U.S. forces will have departed. Some U.S. forces will make up a portion of the UNMIH and will be present in Haiti for the duration of the U.N. mission. The entire U.N. mission will withdraw from Haiti after elections are held next year and a new Haitian Government takes office in early 1996, consistent with U.N. Security Council Resolution 940.

(6) The financial costs of the deployment are estimated to be the following. A conservative, preliminary estimate of Department of Defense and Department of State incremental costs for U.S. military operations, U.S. support for the multinational coalition, and the follow-on U.N. peacekeeping operation is projected at $500- $600 million through February 1996. This covers potential costs to be incurred in FY 1994, FY 1995, and FY 1996. Final deployment-related costs could vary from this estimate depending on how operations proceed in the first few weeks, how fast civic order is restored, and when the operation is replaced by a U.N. peacekeeping operation. A preliminary estimate of U.S. nondeployment-related costs—migrant operations, sanctions enforcement, police training, and economic reconstruction—will be provided separately. The Congress will be provided more complete estimates as they become available.



NOTE: Identical letters were sent to Thomas S. Foley, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Albert Gore, Jr., President of the Senate. This letter was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on September 19.

William J. Clinton, Letter to Congressional Leaders on Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Haiti Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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