EVER SINCE the Duvalier dictatorship was overthrown in 1986, the island nation of Haiti has been plagued by turmoil. Even by such a standard, the coup that overthrew President Jean Bertrand Aristide Monday was anything but routine: It ousted Haiti's first democratically elected president.
The Bush administration's firm stand against the junta -- including the cutoff of desperately needed humanitarian assistance -- was a tough but necessary first step. It is terrible that humanitarian aid is to be denied the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. But the generals must be forcefully reminded that without an international lifeline even a Haiti run by the military will starve.
Washington's job now is to rally the other democratic nations of the hemisphere against the coup -- the sooner the better. Repeated intervention by the Haitian military is obviously not the cure for what ails this country of 6 million. Indeed, Haiti's militarism is a disease itself: Every civilian leader who has tried to make democracy work runs up against stubborn resistance from the 7,000-man military force.