Powell Defends U.S. Stance on Haiti

U.S. Wasn't Prepared to "Prop Up" a "Failing" Aristide

Listen: <b>Web Extra</b>: Juan Williams' Extended Interview with Powell

Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks to foreign reporters in October 2003.

Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks to foreign reporters in October 2003. Ron Edmonds, U.S. State Department hide caption

itoggle caption Ron Edmonds, U.S. State Department

Secretary of State Colin Powell defends the Bush administration's handling of the crisis in Haiti, saying the now exiled Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide allowed "chaos" to exist and "thugs" to take over the island nation. Powell spoke in response to criticism by Sen. John Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, who said the United States should have supported Aristide.

"We did everything we could to find a political solution to this terrible crisis in Haiti," Powell tells NPR's Juan Williams. Powell says he had wanted Aristide to succeed, but that the now exiled leader "governed in a way that allowed thugs to take over.... He essentially had allowed conditions of chaos to exist."

Powell was responding to Kerry's comments to The New York Times, published Sunday, in which the Massachusetts Democrat said he would have dispatched an international force to Haiti to protect Aristide.

But Powell told NPR that the United States and other members of the international community were not prepared "to send in a military force... to prop up a leader who was seriously failing."

The ousted leader, now living in exile in Africa, bowed to an armed rebellion and international pressure in leaving his office last week. Aristide appealed to his supporters Monday to resist what he called the "occupation" of Haiti.

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