As Jimmy Carter's peace mission flew back to Washington on Sept. 18, it encountered last-minute anxiety that Haiti's military might balk at the deal he had just negotiated. Fortunately, that didn't end up happening, as U.S. troops landed unopposed the next day. The behind-the-scenes glimpse comes from a tape obtained by BUSINESS WEEK of two calls over an unsecured radio link from Carter aide Robert Pastor in Port-au-Prince to the plane.
In the first call, Pastor complained to Lawrence Rossin, a National Security Council staffer, that President Bill Clinton had sounded too hard-line in earlier televised remarks hailing the breakthrough, causing "problems" in Haiti. Rossin said he and General Colin Powell, another delegation member, "had the same reaction--that we should soften it up."
In the second call, Pastor woke up Carter with the news that edgy Haitian generals wanted the U.S. troop contingent scaled back. Pastor, who had gotten this from the Haitian Foreign Minister because he couldn't reach the generals, suggested that the invasion be delayed as a goodwill gesture. Carter replied: "If the Haitian military is not available, I can't stop what we are going to do."
Later, when shown a transcript of the intercepted calls during a CNN interview, Carter said he was "taken aback." He added: "Now I see what happened to Prince Charles," who two years ago was overheard
on an intimate phone call. Otherwise, Carter and Pastor weren't available for