Was Clinton's experience with Haiti the playbook for the current administration's nationbuilding efforts in Iraq? Consider these remarks by Ambassador James F. Dobbins in 1995.
At the height of the U.S. military presence, shortly after the MNF's initial deployment, over 23,000 American military personnel were stationed in Haiti. As of September 1995, there were 2,500 American soldiers, out of a total of 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops, and 800 UN civilian police, drawn from thirty-one countries. In February 1996, the mission of this peacekeeping force will be concluded. The troops will return home, having successfully completed a complex and challenging operation.
Completion of this operation has been keyed to two processes. The first of these has been the disbanding of Haiti's old institutions of repression and the creation of a new professional civilian police force, along with the reform of the judiciary. The second process has been one of democratic renewal and the constitutional transfer of power. This process involves the holding of local, municipal, parliamentary, and finally, presidential elections, so that by the time U.S. and other military forces leave Haiti in February 1996, the entire Haitian government structure, from the lowest to the highest levels, will be renewed, based on a new exercise of democratic choice, within the framework of the Haitian constitution.
The first point of comparison is the disbanding of Iraq's institutions of repression. The Iraqi army and security apparatus were disbanded. The professional civilian police force is being reconstituted. We don't hear much about the Iraqi judiciary, though. Things haven't turned out as scripted, but no need to belabor the point here.
The second point is the emphasis on renewing the government structure, capped off with presidential elections. We are on course for national elections in Iraq next year.
There was also "a massive level of international assistance" to revive Haiti's economy; this corresponds roughly with the administration's reconstruction efforts.