Two American Missionaries Killed in Haiti

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From the The Morning Dispatch on The Dispatch

Happy Tuesday! The TMD crew can only hope that, if we make it to 104 years old, we’re as cool as Ernie Columbus, a World War II veteran who served in the Army and the Air Force and only recently discovered a love of skydiving.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The Associated Press reported Monday that—according to an internal report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog—Iran has expanded its supply of near bomb-grade uranium by some 45 pounds in the last three months. Iran reportedly has more than 300 pounds of uranium enriched to 60 percent—an easy technical step to the 90 percent enrichment considered to be weapons-grade. Public statements from the Iranian regime in the last several months only “increase concerns about the correctness and completeness of Iran’s safeguards declarations,” said IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in the report. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Biden administration doesn’t plan to support measures backed by the United Kingdom and France to censure Iran at the IAEA meeting of member nations in early June. Instead, the U.S. reportedly plans to abstain in the censure vote—and urge other countries to do the same—in the name of avoiding escalation with Tehran.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that an Israeli airstrike that hit a Palestinian displacement camp outside Rafah, the southernmost city in the Gaza Strip, on Sunday was a “tragic mistake.” The Israel Defense Forces said Sunday that the strike killed two senior Hamas officials and targeted a compound used by the terror group adjacent to the camp, but acknowledged “several civilians in the area were harmed” in the attack. “Despite our utmost efforts not to harm innocent civilians, last night, there was a tragic mistake,” Netanyahu said. “We are investigating the incident and will obtain a conclusion, because this is our policy.” The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry claimed at least 45 people were killed in the strike, including 12 women and eight children.

  • Meanwhile, the Israeli and Egyptian militaries confirmed a soldier with Egypt’s security forces on duty near the country’s border crossing with Rafah was killed on Monday. The events surrounding the soldier’s death are unclear, but one Egyptian security official claimed the soldier died after gunfire broke out between Israeli and Palestinian fighters near the Rafah crossing. It’s unknown which side fired first, and both Egypt and Israel announced an investigation into the incident.

  • A delegation of four Republican and two Democratic members of Congress arrived in Taiwan on Monday, meeting with the island’s new president, Lai Ching-te, as part of a five-day visit. The trip comes less than a week after China performed aggressive military drills around the island for two days in response to Lai’s presidential inauguration, where he promised to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty. “The United States must maintain the capacity to resist any resort to force or coercion that would jeopardize the security of the people of Taiwan,” Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas said Monday, standing alongside Lai. “That is what we stand for, and that is what we continue to say.”

  • North Korea’s attempt to launch a second military spy satellite failed on Monday after the rocket transporting it exploded shortly after takeoff, according to the North Korean state-run news agency. Two previous attempts also failed prior to the successful launch of the country’s first military spy satellite in November, likely aided by technology supplied by Russia in exchange for ammunition for the war in Ukraine. Monday’s setback for North Korean leader Kim-Jong Un was the first attempted military spy satellite launch since the one in November.

  • Heavy storms and tornadoes across parts of the United States killed at least 23 people over Memorial Day weekend, as the severe weather made its way from the southern Midwest to the East Coast. Seven people died in North Texas over the weekend after tornadoes ripped through the area and five people died in Kentucky due to the severe weather. The storms first affected parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas before heading east through Kentucky and the mid-Atlantic on Monday, causing delays at airports from Atlanta to Boston.

  • A landslide near a village in Papua New Guinea on Friday buried more than 2,000 people alive and has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 670 people, government officials told the U.N. on Monday. The International Organization for Migration, a U.N. agency, has taken charge of the humanitarian aid response, with the first excavator arriving in the village Sunday night.

Haiti’s Descent into Failed Statehood

A gang member stands guard in the Delmas 3 area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 22, 2024. (Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)
A gang member stands guard in the Delmas 3 area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on February 22, 2024. (Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)

As armed gang members stormed the compound of a Christian nonprofit, Missions in Haiti, in Port-au-Prince Thursday night, Davy Lloyd, 23, called his dad. David Lloyd, the founder of the nonprofit, had just returned to the U.S. from Haiti. His son had been beaten and tied up by the first round of attackers but had managed to free himself. “He’s like, ‘I’ve got to go now,’” the elder Lloyd recalled his son saying as a second set of gang members arrived. “‘There’s a bunch of them here again.’” Davy, his 21-year-old wife, Natalie, and Jude Montis, the Haitian director of the group, were all killed.

Most U.S. citizens evacuated the country earlier this year, but thousands of Haitians have been killed in the country every year since the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse plunged Haiti further into chaos. The Caribbean country has suffered skyrocketing violence as criminal gangs have taken control of large swaths of territory, including some 80 percent of the capital city of Port-au-Prince. There had been no police presence for months in the neighborhood where the Lloyds were killed. A U.N.-backed, Kenya-led force was due to deploy to Haiti last week, but its delay sheds light on the steep challenge of trying to restore order.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Haiti is “on the precipice of becoming an all-out failed state,” as the Haitian National Police (HNP) is overwhelmed by hundreds of better-armed criminal gangs. Between January 1 and March 20, 1,434 people were killed in the violence, according to the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights—the most concentrated period of killing since the office started monitoring gang-related violence in the country more than two years ago. Last year, a total of 4,400 people were killed. “The recent escalation of violence has heightened human rights abuses, including killings, kidnappings, and rapes, especially against women and young girls,” the U.N. report said. In response to the chaos, some Haitians have formed “self-defense brigades,” meting out extra-judicial punishments, including hundreds of reported lynchings.

The violence has magnified the country’s already-dire humanitarian crisis. Gangs have increasingly attacked hospitals in Port-au-Prince in recent months, forcing many to shut down—including the country’s largest public hospital. More than 40 percent of the country—nearly five million people—face “crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity,” according to the World Food Program.

And where’s Haiti’s government amid all the violence and brutality? Well, it doesn’t really have one. The country took a turn for the worse after Moïse’s assassination, with gangs filling the power vacuum created by the political instability. There is not a single government official in the entire country serving an active term after the last official’s mandate expired in January 2023. In October 2022, the country’s unpopular then-prime minister, Ariel Henry, called for foreign troops to intervene—calls he’s reiterated multiple times in the months since. But the security situation eroded even further this spring while Henry was out of the country. As we wrote in March:

The violence boiled over when Henry left the country late last month to attend several international meetings aimed at getting the crisis under control. Several of the gangs banded together to call for Henry’s ouster and turned their sights on public infrastructure: instigating a massive jailbreak, attacking airports in Port-au-Prince and forcing them to close, and taking over government buildings and police headquarters.

Henry resigned while in exile and a transitional governing council was established last month. The seven-member group selected a new prime minister, Fritz Bélizaire, a former sports minister. But the new premier and the council form only a skeleton government. “There’s really almost no government in place,” said Frederick Barton, the former assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations during the Obama administration.

Keith Mines—vice president of the Latin America program at the United States Institute of Peace—explained why, compared to other Latin-American countries that suffer from gang violence, Haiti’s variety is particularly debilitating. Mines served as the first director of the Merida Initiative, the U.S.-Mexico partnership to combat gang violence, dealing with places like Ciudad Juarez which once had, on a per capita basis, among the most killings in the world. “There’s a dynamic there that you can still function within as citizens and businesses and everything else,” he said.

“That’s really not the case in Haiti,” he told TMD. “They have taken over the city in such a way that it’s just not even tenable.”

A Kenya-led multinational police force was supposed to arrive in Haiti last week to reinforce the HNP and support its efforts to regain control of Port-au-Prince. Kenyan President William Ruto traveled to Washington, D.C., for a state visit on Thursday that was set to coincide with the deployment of forces to Port-au-Prince—a nice feather in the Kenyan government’s cap as President Joe Biden and Ruto announced increased cooperation agreements (Biden moved to upgrade Kenya to non-NATO ally status). But the date of the force’s anticipated arrival last week came and went, with no Kenyan boots on the ground.

Kenya first offered to dispatch nearly 1,000 police last July, and the U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of a “Multinational Security Support Mission” led by Kenya last October. The Haiti mission is U.N.-sanctioned, but it is not a U.N. peacekeeping force, in contrast to previous interventions in Haiti. The West African nation of Benin promised to contribute 1,500 trained personnel to the mission, and several other countries—including Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Barbados—have offered smaller numbers of troops and police.

A Kenyan advance team traveled to Haiti last week and determined that preparations were not complete for the main force’s arrival. “There was an expectation,” Ruto said about the plan for forces to arrive last week. “We have been ready to deploy in Haiti, but that readiness means everything being in place.” He expects the delay to last around three weeks, and it’s still unclear when the non-Kenyan forces will arrive and how large the total force will be.

The reported delays in equipment, armored vehicles, and helicopters for the mission are raising questions about the soundness of the planning. An agreement on the rules of engagement for the police force has yet to be finalized. The transitional council said last week that the HNP will have “overall control over the mission on the ground,” but a plan for how the new forces will be deployed has not been released publicly.

U.S. officials have downplayed the role of American personnel in the effort. “This is not us policing the world,” Blinken said last week. Biden echoed the sentiment during Ruto’s visit. “We’re in a situation where we want to do all we can,” the president said Thursday, “without us looking like America once again is stepping over, deciding, ‘This is what must be done.’”

But the U.S. is bankrolling the operation, offering $300 million in funding and constructing a base in Port-au-Prince for the force that, according to Ruto, is 70 percent complete. “The real country backing the Kenyans with materials and support is the United States,” said Louis Gérald Gilles, a member of Haiti’s transition council.

Money aside, it’s unclear if the expected number of reinforcements will be enough to defeat the gangs. “The force is not going to be big enough to do what’s required,” Mines told TMD. “The only way this thing works is if somebody pieces together a really comprehensive gang strategy that has a disarmament plan, that has a gang diversion part of it, that has a heavy force up front that can intimidate the gangs, a couple of takedowns of key gang leaders but not everybody, [and] citizen involvement. There’s a whole series of things that would have to be a part of a really clever gang strategy.”

Barton argued that the U.S. should consider a “lightning intervention” of 300 to 500 U.S. special forces for several months to “create the conditions where the Kenyans and the Haitian police have a better chance to succeed, not an invasion and a larger force that would stay on the ground, but just to neutralize the gangs.”

But others believe that, despite the challenges, the Kenyan force can make a real difference. William O’Neill, an independent human rights expert on Haiti appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council, told TMD he was disappointed by the delay in arrival but “it still has a very good chance to succeed.”

O’Neill, who assisted in establishing the HNP in 1995, said that Haitian police have, all things considered, put up a surprisingly strong fight to prevent the gangs from making further gains. Some 3,300 officers have abandoned the force over the three years. “A lot of the bad apples have left the police or have been weeded out,” he said. “You have a much smaller police [force], and it’s not large enough, but the ones who are left are actually pretty darn good. With some support, help, logistics, advice, expertise, planning, everything, the core that is left with outsiders can really turn it around.”

The difference will likely be made in how well the assistance can be delivered to the HNP and how reinforcements are deployed. “You can see this start to go the other direction,” Mines said. “That’s going to take a lot of funding. It’s going to take a lot of advisers and mentors, a really good plan. The transitional council has got to really step up. There’s a lot of pieces to that outline that have to come through for it to work.”

But for now, the Lloyd family is trying to figure out how to bring the bodies of their loved ones home. “I don’t think you can find a better example of people who truly had a deep love for the people of Haiti and had a vision to help them in any way that they could,” Natalie’s father, Ben Baker, said. “We’re so proud of what they accomplished [even in just a short] time there. I think their legacy will live on.”

Worth Your Time

  • How do you define the “good old days?” Andrew Van Dam tried to get to the bottom of that question in a piece for the Washington Post. “The plucky poll slingers at YouGov, who are consistently willing to use their elite-tier survey skills in service of measuring the unmeasurable, asked 2,000 adults which decade had the best and worst music, movies, economy and so forth, across 20 measures,” he reported. “Any political, racial, or gender divides were dwarfed by what happened when we charted the data by generation. … The good old days when America was ‘great’ aren’t the 1950s. They’re whatever decade you were 11, your parents knew the correct answer to any question, and you’d never heard of war crimes tribunals, microplastics, or improvised explosive devices. Or when you were 15 and athletes and musicians still played hard and hadn’t sold out. … The closest-knit communities were those in our childhood, ages 4 to 7. The happiest families, most moral society, and most reliable news reporting came in our early formative years—ages 8 through 11. The best economy, as well as the best radio, television, and movies, happened in our early teens—ages 12 through 15.”

  • Is “therapy speak”—the rise of terms like “trauma,” “abuse,” and “toxic” in non-therapeutic settings—becoming, well, toxic? Mia Staub believes so, and explained why in Christianity Today. “Overusing therapy speak—or using it out of context—conflates different kinds of difficult experiences. That conflation can be confusing at best and harmful at worst,” she argued. “For example, when abuse describes an argument between roommates, it’s no longer a helpful word for those who’ve experienced real mistreatment, including in the church. For congregations that are reckoning with actual instances of sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or the abuse of authority, it’s especially important to be precise with language. Overusing a word can take away its severity, making light of the heaviness it holds for those walking through dark valleys. Overusing therapy speak can keep us from hearing each other. It can also give us an excuse to stop listening altogether. It’s hard to argue for reconciliation when a friend deems your relationship ‘toxic’ or ‘problematic.’ Nobody can push back on plans canceled for ‘self-care.’ And ‘emotional boundaries’ just can’t be crossed.”

Presented Without Comment

Former President Donald Trump, on Truth Social:

Happy Memorial Day to All, including the Human Scum that is working so hard to destroy our Once Great Country, & to the Radical Left, Trump Hating Federal Judge in New York that presided over, get this, TWO separate trials, that awarded a woman, who I never met before (a quick handshake at a celebrity event, 25 years ago, doesn’t count!), 91 MILLION DOLLARS for “DEFAMATION.” She didn’t know when the so-called event took place – sometime in the 1990’s – never filed a police report, didn’t have to produce the “dress” that she threatened me with (it showed negative!), & sung my praises in the first half of her CNN Interview with Alison Cooper, but changed her tune in the second half – Gee, I wonder why (UNDER APPEAL!)? The Rape charge was dropped by a jury! Or Arthur Engoron, the N.Y. State Wacko Judge who fined me almost 500 Million Dollars (UNDER APPEAL) for DOING NOTHING WRONG, used a Statute that has never been used before, gave me NO JURY, Mar-a-Lago at $18,000,000 – Now for Merchan!

In the Zeitgeist 

For at least one of your Morning Dispatchers, there’s nothing like The Avett Brothers to cast the mind back to high school. And their new album seems like vintage Avett Bros.—fitting since they named it after themselves.

Toeing the Company Line

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  • It’s Tuesday, which means Dispatch Live (🔒) returns tonight! Steve and the team will discuss the news of the week and, of course, take plenty of viewer questions! Keep an eye out for an email later today with information on how to tune in.

  • In the newsletters: Kevin argued (🔒) that Marjorie Taylor Greene’s colleagues should expel her from the House of Representatives.

  • On the podcasts: Jamie was joined on The Dispatch Podcast by Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, to discuss all things economics.

  • On the site: Charlotte explores who might succeed Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the wake of President Ebrahim Raisi’s recent death and Chris examines how a guilty verdict in the New York criminal trial may actually help Trump.

Let Us Know

Does your definition of the “good old days” align with the data collected by YouGov and the Washington Post? When (in years and by your own age) do you think the United States had the best music, movies, and TV? Most moral society? Closest-knit families? Reliable news reporting?

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