HOPE FOR DEMOCRACY in Haiti is fading. If it is to be rescued, help will evidently have to come from other countries. The Haitian army is deeply implicated in the murderous attacks on polls that derailed the presidential election two weeks ago. Many of Haiti's people responded with a general strike, a gesture that showed great courage. But it wasn't sufficiently successful to shake the current provisional government under Gen. Henri Namphy.
Gen. Namphy and the army have now rescheduled the election for next month, under their own rules. They have dismissed the electoral commission established by the constitution adopted earlier this year and are organizing their own election authority. All four of the leading candidates have said that they will boycott the army's election as bogus. It is calculated to produce a president acceptable to the army -- that is, someone willing to tolerate the favoritism and corruption that many of the military officers are apparently determined to perpetuate. It will be a continuation of the Duvalier regime without the Duvaliers, and perhaps without quite so much open brutality. Haiti, by far the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, will go on living under a government that knows no purpose but exploitation.
The question for Haiti's friends abroad is whether -- and how -- to turn the country in another direction. American military intervention is a bad idea. Memories of the long and not wholly successful occupation by the Marines earlier in this century are too strong. But there are other possibilities. A United Nations force should not be considered out of the question. There are many democratic governments that could contribute forces to stand guard, under the U.N.'s flag, as Haiti's constitution takes effect.
For an example of successful intervention, there is the recent history of the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. In the years after the assassination of the dictator Rafael Trujillo, the country slid toward anarchy, and when civil war broke out in 1965 the United States sent in troops. Now, two decades later, the Dominican Republic enjoys genuine democracy -- and in 1965 it hardly seemed a more promising case than Haiti does today.
Perhaps there are other ways to guarantee a real election in Haiti, to persuade the four candidates to get back into it and to give them better assurance of personal safety than present circumstances provide. Intervention in a sovereign country's political processes is always a last resort. But under Gen. Namphy's provisional government the country now seems to be moving backward toward the old politics of fixed elections, intimidation and destitution.