Liberia - A new chapter

Discussion in 'World Events' started by Tiassa, Aug 12, 2003.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Liberia - A New Chapter

    Note: From June 18 through August 11, 2003, "US Marines to Liberia" tracked events in Liberia from the time of the American diversion of the USS Kearsarge through the departure of Liberian President Charles Taylor. With Taylor's departure, it is time to start a new chapter following Liberian development.

    With little choice remaining, former Liberian President Charles Taylor departed Liberia to undertake his exile in Calabar, Nigeria. As Taylor waved a white handkerchief to supporters and boarded a plane loaded with relatives and a few select spoils of wealth, the former bush soldier and diamond trader left behind a troubled presidency that started with the toppling of former dictator Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe and reached its high point with a 1997 electoral win to legitimize his rule. In the six years since, Liberia has plunged deeper into chaos.

    But the bitter war against Taylor's government stands at a cease-fire despite rebel complaints that Vice-President Moses Blah, who assumes power in Taylor's wake, is a crony with twenty years at Taylor's side.

    As word of the transition spread, American warships steamed into view off the Liberian coast. Though "cheered by thousands of ecstatic Liberians", the US Marines did not come ashore. And whether or not they will remains a question. While Africa's history of self-regulation and peacekeeping is spotty and unnecessarily complex at best, the American position as described by the Defense Department is that the US is "there to help the Nigerians succeed ... We're here. We're watching. We want the transition to go smoothly." US Secretary of State Colin Powell described future plans: "If the cease-fire remains in place, I would not expect any large commitment of US forces."

    Thus, barring further trouble, the Marines who will not go ashore while there is trouble afoot will not have need to go ashore.

    In the meantime, Liberia faces an uncertain future. A tenuous ceasefire holds in Monrovia. The situations in Buchanan and Grbarnga are unclear. Vice-President Moses Blah, empowered to lead the country until at least October, has worked alongside Taylor for twenty years, helped him launch the insurrection that would result in Taylor's presidency, and trained with his former boss in Libya during the 1980s. And Taylor, known for using his wealth--accumulated from Sierra Leonean diamonds among other ill spoils of war--to influence events in neighboring countries and even go so far as to support proxy wars (Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea) and prop up the Compaore regime in Burkina Faso. With political connections in Chad, Libya, Ghana, and elsewhere, fears remain that Taylor's influence could spread back into Liberia, very possibly through Blah.

    As one Bush administration official put it, "So many people are partners in crime with Taylor, and he has so many chips that he can call in, that it means he can make mischief for a long time if he wants to."

    That mischief, of course, includes rape, looting, and mutilation. And, of course, the recruiting of child soldiers.

    An ominous shadow spills from Taylor's words and chills the Liberian peace: "God willing, I will be back."

    But for now it is enough to tally up the dead, scrub away the stains, and look past the nightmare that hopefully fades from this day forward.

    The score at the break:

    Rebels: 3
    Taylor: 1
    Citizens: 0

    The days ahead are uncertain. Liberia has fallen off the Human Development Index; rebuilding a nation will bring challenges, some untold.

    And, of course, tracking Liberian developments with any sense of relevance includes learning those things I've not bothered with yet, including economy and internal social history. Hopefully, those will be the next posts.

    - Washington Post. "Taylor May Be Gone, but His Influence Remains" by Douglas Farah. August 12, 2003, p. A10. see
    - Guardian Unlimited. "US troops approach Liberia as Taylor makes his exit" by Rory Carroll. August 12, 2003. see,13764,1016864,00.html
    - New York Times. "Leader of Liberia Surrenders Power and Enters Exile" by Somini Sengupta. August 11, 2003. see (registration required - temporary link)
    - New York Times. "U.S. Aims to Back Nigerians, Without Sending in More Marines" by Thom Shanker. August 11, 2003. see (registration required - temporary link)


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  3. Brad Rules Registered Senior Member

    This is despicable

    Bush has no business sending American soldiers into a civil war that serves no American interest. He didn't learn a thing from his father who got Americans killed in the ridiculous war in Somalia. This digusts me.
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Welcome, Brad

    Those points are discussed somewhat in the topic mentioned at the beginning of my topic post.

    In the meantime, Brad, don't worry. Bush doesn't want to do jack while he's there. He's putting in an appearance, so to speak, merely for the sake of making an appearance. The human cause being the weakest of the planks in his opinion of his own war strategies, Bush is not compelled to fight injustice wherever he finds it. Just where a tidy profit can be managed.

    Of course, Liberia did help put our auto industry over the top in the 20th century (rubber), serve as a platform for African operations during WW2, and also as the cornerstone of our African anti-Communist efforts. So we endorsed a brutal dictator there for a decade or so and left Liberians helpless in the wake of Communism's fall.

    But you're right. I well understand the argument that this is not our business. At least not until the terrorists move from Asia and the Middle East into Africa and start hitting us from there. To the other ... well, Bush may still be compelled to put more than 82 Marines ashore for the simple fact that at some point he's going to need the world's support again, and his illegal war in Iraq has cost him a few points here and there.

    Intervention, in cold political consideration, is the only real option Bush has. WMD's in Iraq are falling through. The WMD threat against the US and UK has burned away in a puff of humiliation. Al Qaeda in Iraq has already fallen through. All that is left is the deposing of a dictator and the rebuilding of a pseudo-democratic society, hopefully one beyond a farce. And if Bush wishes to protect American prestige and honor, such that we can reasonably call the world to our aid in future endeavors, he must be prepared to give something in return. In this case, the world wonders why the human cause, the only remaining plank of Bush's noble Iraq invasion, is not sufficient for action elsewhere. And so a number of people, from Ambassador Greenstock--our partner-in-crime's ambassador to the UN--to Kofi Annan to Charles Taylor himself to the rebel factions and most importantly the suffering mass of Liberian people pushed to the end of the earth and beyond have pleaded for Bush's intervention.

    And the answer has been a stirring, "Well ... maybe. We won't intervene while there's a reason to intervene, and when that reason is done we won't need to intervene. See? We helped."

    It's one more tick against Bush. It is a furthering of his confession that the Iraqi usurpation was about money and dominion.

    Welcome to the new America: land of the governed, home of the frightened. O say, can you see?


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  7. Brad Rules Registered Senior Member


    Do you support intervention in Liberia or not?

    I myself am disgusted that we would waste a single American life in Africa. That entire continent is irrelevant to American interests. Yes there a few commodoties that we need from Africa but those aren't in any danger. Let 'em kill themselves, that is what they really want to do anyways.

    By the way, I agree that the lack of WMD is terrible. I believed Bush when he said that there were WMD in Iraq. I now believe that our intelligence agencies are so incompetent that they couldn't aquire decent intelligence on a third world nation. That is simply pathetic.
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Brad, it's a tough question

    I don't know, Brad. So far I've given this mission my endorsement, but I'm severely disappointed with Bush's "reluctant" commitment.

    I'm not a fan of war. I made a hard stand against it in Iraq. I'm of the opinion that peacekeepers are pincushions; part of their point is to say, "If you're going to shoot, shoot at us. If you're going to deal, deal with us."

    For me the problem is that the Liberian people have tried a number of things to avoid dying in a war. They've begged with the warring sides to stop. They've pleaded. They even marched to the battlezone only to be repelled by a show of force from government troops. By the time they're pushed to the coast, sandbagging themselves on the beach for meager shelter against stray rounds, I'd say they've run out of options. When the only other choice is blind, chaotic destruction ... I can't ask the people suffering in a pointless war to take up arms and join the war. That makes even less sense than the wars that push people to the wall.

    Had Bush chosen to put his foot down in the beginning and said, "No go," I would have simply registered the inconsistency in his combat policies and let it go. But Bush recognized what the world was calling on, an American commitment to Liberia founded in history.

    And so, on a hopeful day when Bush seemed to grasp the idea of using his military to bring peace, I wrote as much of an endorsement as I could manage: see - "Here we go!"

    As part of that endorsement, I even wrote,
    I'm starting to think that Bush is putting in an appearance purely for show's sake.

    In the meantime, I'm having trouble motivating myself to publicly celebrate the progress that nobody cares about when it's all probably going to collapse by October, anyway.

    I'm actually quite glad the African peacekeepers are having what success they have, but the damage in Liberia is harrowing and still continues because there's just not enough peacekeepers to suppress those absolutely determined to fight.

    In the end, I'll be happy if our troops don't actually have to do any fighting and we can be part of Liberia's support during the rebuilding era. Clinton, it seemed, played Pontius Pilate with Liberia. Bush ... I think he wishes he could afford to politically. But Liberia's an ongoing story, and Bush still has time to prove himself useful.

    And if the only American casualties are non-combat accidents, all the better. "None" is ideal, and any military intervention is dubious, but I think the US can seriously benefit both the world and its own future by taking a leading and active role in the stabilization and recovery of Liberia.

    We have the technology. We have the economy. And to hear Americans tell it, we are a kind and generous people, wise and knowing, who look to the best in humanity and the world, and a bunch of other stuff I wish really was true.

    We have a chance to show it. Bush seems to be waiting for a better opportunity.
  9. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member


    We cannot totally entangle ourselves in another nation's civil war...simply for humanitarian reasons. But if this crisis becomes even more horrendous, I guess we'd have to. If we don't then, why even go.

    Any way you look at it, any US action in Liberia is for appearances' sake. There is no tangible reason for our involvement, only abstract ideals.
  10. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Indeed, Congrats

    That's consistent with Bush's combat policy.
  11. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member

    No- I'd say it's rather inconsistent. Bush's policies have been almost systematically inconsistent, from coming into office a quasi-isolationist, and now an agressive nation-builder, to being a conservative yet letting wasteful spending spiral up and up.

    However, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were fought for real, tangible reasons. Afghanistan was fought to:

    1. Destroy the nexus of Al Qaeda opeartions.
    2. Destroy the Taliban, thus forcing Al Qaeda remnants on the run.

    The war in Iraq was fought to:

    1. Provide a model for Arab states that counters the all-or nothing terrorist breeding authoritarian fanaticism.
    2. Wipe out a developing threat to world security.

    Notice I never mentioned: "To rid Saddam of WMD's." Or "To liberate the Iraqi people." The inconsistencey of the WMD evidence does not translate to inconsistent intent. I'd say that WMD's were a sideshow put into the forefront by the administration, knowing that regime change itself, while a valid foreign policy intiative, would not evoke Americans' patriotic duty.

    Liberia gives us nothing but good feelings, while lacking any long term goal for US security. That's why we shouldn't waste our time playing Compassionate Nation and should instead focus on being Nation that Works for its Own Survival.
  12. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    What an odd season for the Episcopalians ....

    Yes, but the play up to the Afghan conflict was such by the Bush administration as to force conflict. If we're right (as in, "if we have the moral high ground") then we can afford due process and the appearance of due process.

    Now, I admit this one's speculative, but has it occurred to you that maybe, just maybe, the reason Bush didn't want to provide any evidence supporting his extradition demand for Bin Laden wasn't because it would threaten our intelligence structure but rather reveal what turns out to be its ... instability and possibly even inadequacy?

    And why would Rumsfeld have wanted to use 9/11 for leverage to go after Hussein? I can imagine the scene the way the flaks tried to play it off, but the flaks weren't convincing.

    However, in Afghanistan we have only interfered with and enraged the Taleban. We are not winning in Afghanistan; not at present.

    I believe in the opportunities the US can offer formerly oppressed nations, but we haven't taken bin Laden, we haven't destroyed the Taleban, and while the human cause remains in Afghanistan, we are slowly losing that. In the end, the idealism is the only thing we can be sure of.

    And while I do, in fact, notice your careful wording regarding Iraq ... well ... neither one nor two is something the United States can appropriately do according to the rules of civility it has long insisted on. And that disturbs me because the transformation of the American ideal into a warrior-cult will mean that the terrorists win.

    The model is not well-thought. It seems to account for Arabs in such a fashion as to expect them to behave as if they're already ideological Westerners. And providing that model is not the duty of a free nation; it is the leisure of an empire.

    And in wiping out a developing threat to world security ... do you recall the polls before the war that showed a large number of people in various nations around the world (in some nations even a majority) believed George Bush to be a bigger threat to peace and security than Saddam Hussein? Point being: Wipe out a developing threat to world security--in addition to being a tenuous precedent, is it one we really want to set for the world?

    Military combat is only a last resort if all it will do is save civilian lives. It's the preferred method if there's profit to be had. Bush won't admit to that part, though, because strangely Americans are taught that piracy and robbery are bad things. So all that's left is abstract idealism.

    And why should the United States not then help "provide a model" for African development? So far the WB/IMF effort has been disastrous in terms of utility privatization (especially in the case of water) Because:
    In history, Liberia has served as an important player in Allied operations during WWII and also as a staging point for anti-Communist efforts in Africa during the Cold War. Now ... I'll even go on the premise that the US can triumph in its Mideast agenda for this if you like ... when the Middle East is so under control that terrorists cannot operate effectively in or from the region, they will spread to Asia and down toward Australia on the one hand, and into Western Africa on the other. I would ask you to look at this map solely to tick off a specific set of conflict nations: Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC. It's just a hop across the water from Saud into Sudan, and a hot zone exists all the way to the west coast of the continent. Furthermore, the one thing Bush's failed uranium story only highlights the potential danger of ... oh ... billionaire terrorists securing a foothold in Africa. And at this point I do look back to Liberia, a nation of border instability (e.g. easy access) and assorted mineral wealth common to the region (former President Taylor bankrolled his operation with Leonean diamonds); there's a vastly underemphasized note in the CIA World Factbook entry for Liberia:
    And you know, if Liberia is going to rejoin the Human Development Index anytime soon, she's going to have to develop a financial infrastructure. I believe that the west coast of Africa, the essential last stop before hopping the Atlantic, will play incredible strategic importance, and sometime within the next couple of decades. It is to the benefit of the United States to exert some positive influence, and maybe this time not abandon the people of Liberia to a brutal dictator.

    It would be nice, for once, to secure our fronts both civilly and before the storm comes.

    In the meantime, Liberia's warring parties have chosen a leader to get them through the power-sharing stage as they work toward free elections. Gyude Bryant, head of Liberia's Episcopal church.

    Strange ... it's a good season for the Episcopalians. Maybe Bush can send Bishop Robinson as an envoy ....
  13. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member

    Tiassa- you actually associate profiting from a war with "robbery and piracy"? We must profit from a war- the United States Military is not in existence simply to serve civilians in other countries and to promote abstract idealism. The entire point of war is to gain security, not serve ideals. There is no reaosn for a military force to engage in humanitaraian action as a main objective, which is why I disagree with Bush's hyping of this motive pre-Iraq.

    So act only on intangibles because we cannot be sure of results? It's not about offering oppurtunities- we throw that in on the side to make war seem less brutal. War is about securing our interests, and we shouldn't risk our soldiers to achieve emotional aims. If self-sacrifice is considered a virtue, there is notihing left worth dying for.
  14. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    "The entire point of war is to gain security, not serve ideals. "

    So people keep saying. But if war really made you secure, how come we keep at it? And why not ideals? Is it not an ideal to want secrity, despite its impossibleness of achievement?

    "There is no reaosn for a military force to engage in humanitaraian action as a main objective,"

    Yes there is. Its to gain security, of a similar but slightly different kind to your local policeman.
  15. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member

    "Is it not an ideal to want secrity, despite its impossibleness of achievement?"

    No, security is a basic liberty. We don't fight for security, we fight to gain it. For example, we could fight for the compassionate belief that people around the world should live secure lives, etc. But are we really fighting to gain that? The end result should be a safer world both within and outside the US. This then keeps us secure, which is why we do it. If it didn't we wouldn't.

    I'm just saying that since most people who want a more active role in Liberia justify themselves by claiming "historical ties" and "suffering civilians" no one has really made the case on how it can be proactive. Tiassa made that case, but the case he made sets an awful precedent: If terrorists can find a haven in Liberia, why not Burkin Faso, or Rwanda, or almost every African nation? Liberia poses no special risk- so why not put US troops all over West Africa? Why not use them to resolve civil war in Rwanda? Why not Indonesia? That alone is not enough justification.

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  16. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    "No, security is a basic liberty. We don't fight for security, we fight to gain it."

    Well, the point Im trying to make is that you might fight all you like, but you have to keep fighitng, you no sooner gain it than lose it, therefore it is kind of an unnatinable ideal. I can see wher eyour coming from for it as a liberty, but at the end of the day, do not most of hte earths inhabitants have to have it before you can say you have it as well, so there is are few insecure peopel around to casue trouble for the rest of us?

    "But are we really fighting to gain that? The end result should be a safer world both within and outside the US. This then keeps us secure, which is why we do it. If it didn't we wouldn't."

    So are you fighitng for the security of the world? Or for your own? You seem to lean towards purely the USDA's security. Which again, is both understandable, yet too one sided to work. hence the need to keep fighitng.

    "Liberia poses no special risk- so why not put US troops all over West Africa? Why not use them to resolve civil war in Rwanda? Why not Indonesia? That alone is not enough justification."

    Why not indeed? Troops are not the only means of keeping security of course, and would be out of place as a mjor part of the striving for securitry in many of these places.
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Ideals and resolve ... borrowing a phrase from Herr Bush


    Especially when a nation strives to shed its international obligations in order to duck objections.
    There's a couple of ways at least to look at this:

    - First, the profit is security. Americans are not Vikings of old, or Teutons looting on their way into Rome. Americans are not the Lord's Resistance Army, seeking profit and gain in every conquest. Why not just use the War on Terror to not only secure our position in West Africa but loot the diamonds? Yeah, jewel markets might hurt, but what our industries could accomplish with cheap diamonds, gold, and other resources! Wanna talk profit? Or is it the short-term? Let's break our obligations, hop on over, violate a few conventions we've agreed to, and steal an appropriate share to reward us for the service of invasion and pillage we are providing the people?

    - Secondly, we revisit an old question (in terms of Sciforums usage): Should the United States withdraw from the United Nations? We have, by proxy of our participation, agreed to stabilization, peacekeeping, and other idealistic human causes and acknowledged the vitality of such operations to international security and therefore security at home. This isn't like Somalia. The people are begging for American assistance.
    When is anything ever a sure thing? Really.

    The only thing we can be sure of is that we believe in right and wrong. That seems pretty demonstrable in life. But we aren't delivering on the promises that justified our wars. I can see how many people could give a rat's ass, and even more chilling to me is that people didn't seem to mind during the Iraqi Bush War when I referred to the United States as an empire akin to Coruscant. I have to admit that if this is what Americans have come to want, it's time to consider whether to fight or to simply go somewhere else. Perhaps sometime soon, on shores afar, I shall look back across the water, raise a glass, and finally mourn the snuffing of the American beacon which has served us to greatness for over two centuries.

    And for what? Cheap gas so we can spend more on blow?
    Do you purport to defend the virtue of that dishonesty?

    In the meantime, take it up with Herr Bush. As I keep pointing out, the Chicken Little routine of Iraqi security threat has failed to materialize and Bush is left with nothing but idealism at best. And Afghanistan?
    What an interesting assertion. Please do expand. I'm most interested.
    Whose troops? The world looked to the US because of its ties to Liberia. Similar reasons go to explain the French leadership of the mission in DRC. I have to look into the Australians and Fijians in the Solomons, but on superficial examination, regional interest stands out; I'm unsure of the histories at present.

    Just an interesting map I came across; click the map to read up on the history of Cabinda according to the Cabindese government-in-exile:

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    And no, Cabinda is not important in any way that I've determined to the present argument. I just think it's an odd story because, honestly, until yesterday, I'd never heard of it. Rather, I think the map is interesting.

    And to consider modern Africa, there are nations trying to help their neighbors on the continent. South Africa has troops deployed here and there. Nigeria's in Liberia because they're apparently the only ones willing to make the stand. (Respecting the map, I looked up the Belgians and yes, they do have commitments to Operation Artemis in DRC.)

    Sidebar: Perhaps there's something to the conspiracy theories; it would appear that the UN is about to go on the offensive; note the phrase "open fire to complete their mission".

    At any rate, American troop commitments in Africa would be quite low; there's not a whole lot there we're directly responsible for in the sense of postcolonial chaos.

    But Liberia's our baby. She's served us in the past, and in the near future we will call on her again. Yes, we owe something to Liberian stability, and if we must resort to justifying it by the simple fact that nobody pretends African instability doesn't pose serious threats in the very near future ... well?

    As a pacifist, it seems to me that if we are going to use soldiers at all, using them to end wars and not start them is a useful endeavor. And since our nation has obliged itself to peacekeeping missions, I see no reason to duck a softball mission with staggering potential human benefit that begs American leadership.

    And hell, Bush is putting in an appearance for politics' sake ... why not put in a genuine appearance?

    There is, of course, the idea of fair trade and fair economy with an idealistic, non-military intervention: imagine the long-term profitability of new markets if the world didn't wait until millions were dying here and there before doing anything about the situation. Some of these problems can be circumvented if the world chooses to make a cash investment instead of blood.

    I understand that the return is very hard to quantify in the ledger, and that's every reason not to spend the money, but one way or another, the world at some point must transcend its national labels and just deal with human beings, or else drop all of its human rights bullshit and admit that people aren't worth anything.

    Personally, I'd love to see the elitists take their white gloves off and do some of the dirty work themselves instead of hiding behind political and legal institutions. All they really have to do is say it just right, and the rabble will remind them of the precarious existence of the privileged.

    So let's just admit, then, that greed, death, and hatred are the best things imaginable for humanity. Or else let's do something about reducing the human suffering that comes from greed and hatred.

    I still say competing with nature is difficult enough. It's becoming less and less clear to me these days why simple human dignity is becoming anathema.

    It's not really all about profits, is it, Congrats?

    I first asked the question about Ireland: are dead children in a fishstand explosion any less valuable than the one hauled raped and slashed out of the woods in my city? The question takes many forms. But in the end, we can look at it in the other direction:

    - Self
    - Family/friends/"urban tribe"?
    - Coworkers
    - Fellow citizens ....

    (Strangely, the list seems to go in order of how much time you spend around people ....)

    By the time we get from Seattle all the way over to Belfast, why should I care?

    And then Rwanda's massacre happened, and I asked the question anew. (It took a few askings before I realized it was the same question every time.)

    Naturally, I should be more concerned as a practical, functional matter in the case of a local murder. But my emotional response? How I feel about the killing?

    And as the world's disasters have continued and mounted up, I've found that I still share many practical and even moral sentiments with the people around me, but, to borrow a phrase from Herr Bush, "they lack the resolve" to do anything about how they feel and what they pretend to know.

    It's just time for people to stop pretending. People either need to get on with making the world a better place or just admit that they are exactly what they've spent their lives condemning and working against: brutal, insensitive, bloodthirsty, greedy, spiteful, ad nauseam.

    In the time it took me to write this post, War has killed somebody. Hunger has killed somebody. A number of rapes have occurred in my state alone, much less nationwide or worldwide. Somebody somewhere has beaten a child .... What? Why did people spend much time and effort teaching children, young adults, and eventually indoctrinating the adults into believing that these things, these rapes and murders and starvations and child-beatings are bad things?
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Update: Massacre reported at Bahn

    Liberian rebels accused of massacre; fighting continues around country

    (Image difficulties)
    Bahn Massacre: As many as 1,000 people are reported dead after a MODEL attack at Bahn, in Nimba County.

    To hear the American news tell it, the security situation is so good in Liberia that the Marines were able to pull out. Ah ... I love cable news.

    The story goes that Liberia Broadcasting System has reported that about 1,000 people have died in attacks at Bahn, but independent confirmation is lacking. Liberian Defense Minister Daniel Chea claims to have no information on the incident.

    While Monrovia sees a comparative calm, the rest of Liberia is still a dangerous and disastrous place. LURD, the largest rebel faction and also that which pressed Monrovia, has allegedly carried out an attack near Gbarnga, while LURD soldiers claim government troops mounted assaults from a farm formerly belonging to deposed President Taylor. UN staff report fighting near Harbel.

    The humanitarian crisis is, of course, shocking. Over half a million people lack access to clean water and also access to food. 50,000 are displaced in Bong County according to the BBC, and Salala Camp, home to 15,000 refugees, has not received food aid since April. MSF reports that the camp is full of malnourished children.

    In the meantime, Liberia's transitional leader Gyude Bryant, due to take power in October and lead for two years, sees both hope and challenge:
    The departure of American Marines from Monrovia today did little to assuage people's concerns about those very issues. "They're forsaking us," said one Liberian to reporters. Despite fighting elsewhere in Liberia, the withdrawal "reflects the situation on the ground here," said Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Collins. "We're here to support (the West African force), but we can do it better from the ship."

    Col. Theophilus Tawiah, the Ghanaian chief of staff for the West African mission, told reporters that American support was helpful, adding, "wherever they are, their job is to support us. And they can support us from the ship or wherever."

    - Report, Staff. "Many dead in Liberian Massacre". BBC News. August 25, 2003. see
    - Report, Staff. "Liberia: Nation starving". BBC News. August 20, 2003. see
    - Butty, James. "Liberian Interim Leader Appeals for Reconciliation". Voice of America. August 24, 2003. see
    - Report, Wire. "US Marines return to warships off Liberia's coast". MSNBC. August 24, 2003. see
  19. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Update on Liberia

    "Welcome to Liberia"; boost for peacekeepers

    MSF's Quinn sees trouble in the North

    Despite last week's American withdrawal of US Marines which "reflected the situation on the ground", Dr. Tom Quinn, of Médecins Sans Frontières tells the BBC of an almost surreal Liberia. MSF has been unable to reach Lofa County in the north of the country; "This area has been inaccessible to us for years now," writes Quinn, who worries about the state of the civilians in the area. In the sixth installment of his e-diary for BBC News Online, Dr. Quinn writes of impassable roads from Monrovia up to Lofa and laments, "It would be a lot easier if the authorities would just let our teams access the area from the other side of the border in Guinea. Just outside the Liberian capitol, the villages are "deserted", though villages along the Sierra Leonean border still have a population. Apparently the clinics are "completely empty but intact and if we wanted we could walk in there tomorrow". Security, of course, is still a problem: "It sums up the main problem, though: Access. Bad roads, closed borders, ongoing fighting." And Quinn fears a possible flood of refugees from around Gbatala and Salala to Monrovia. In the meantime, his team is working n the area of Wiesua: "We have absolutely no idea what we'll find or even if there'll be anybody left there so I'm prepared for anything," writes Quinn. "Welcome to Liberia."

    West African peacekeepers get boost

    Saturday brought around 250 Senegalese soldiers to Liberia, where they join the growing West African peacekeeping force attempting to restore order to the tired, war-battered nation. The primary force of 1,500 soldiers from Nigeria has grown to 2,000 with contributions from Senegal and Mali. Neighboring Ghana is expected to send a contingent. Wire reports note that the West African force is "buttressed by about 30 U.S. Marines on the ground acting as liaisons and 250 aboard warships off Liberia."

    ECOWAS asks for lifting of Liberian sanctions

    The Lagos Vanguard reports that Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Executive Secretary of Ecowas, has advised the United Nations that the departure of former Liberian President Charles Taylor indicated that sanctions levied against Liberia in response to Taylor's support for Sierra Leonean rebels should be lifted.

    "Keeping the current regime of sanctions in place will doubtless make it impossible for it (the transitional administration) to function effectively," Chambas said. "Therefore, I would strongly entreat this council to consider lifting all the sanctions, except the arms embargo, currently imposed on Liberia to further signal support for success of the Liberian peace process."

    The UN Security Council has not formally addressed the matter, but "remains concerned at the situation in Liberia, particularly the continuing dire humanitarian situation of much of the population."

    Security concerns, however, suggest that the UNSC will not be lifting sanctions designed to reduce arms and raw diamond smuggling, and also to embargo the Liberian wood trades. Jacques-Paul Klein, special representative for the office of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has also called for the lifting of sanctions. An unnamed diplomat quoted by the Vanguard said, "The idea is to wait while a monitoring system is put in place," amid fears of rekindling chaos with black-market economy.

    Chairman of US Senate Armed Services Committee sees security interest in Liberia

    Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner (R-VA) appeared to soften his stance against American military involvement in Liberia. Warner said last week, following a visit to the US Embassy in Liberia, "I come back again to the worldwide fight on terrorism, that fact that if areas in Africa such as this are subject to prolonged turmoil, and if they cannot control their territorial sovereignty, they can become potential havens for those who wish to reach out from this land to other nations and direct their harmful intentions." Warner suggested that stabilizing failed African states is "in the security interest" of the United States.

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    "No more war": Liberian women sing and chant in front of the US Embassy pleading for faster deployment of peace troops into Liberia's still-unsettled and starving interior in Monrovia. (Photo: Schalk Van Zuydam/AP)

    Peacekeepers enter Buchanan

    Voice of America reports that West African peacekeepers and Western diplomats have reached the rebel-held port city of Buchanan. Refugees greeted the convoy with cheers and US Ambassador to Liberia John Blaney is reported to have delivered by had a copy of the August 18 peace accord to the commander of the rebel forces in the city. The mission hopes to end the fighting in Buchanan as well as open routes for humanitarian aid.

    VOA also reports that last week, interim Liberian President Moses Blah announced during a national radio address that he would declare three days of mourning for Liberia's war dead, and also reiterated that he will leave office on October 14, 2003, when he is expected to give power to a negotiated transitional government.

    - Quinn, Tom. "Diary of a Liberian aid worker VI". BBC News Online. August 28, 2003. see

    - Report, Wire. "Senegal Soldiers Arrive in Liberia". ABC August 30, 2003. see

    - Report, Wire. "ECOWAS Urges UN to Lift Liberia Sanctions". AllAfrica/Lagos Vanguard. August 29, 2003. see

    - Report, Wire. "U.S. senator calls Liberia a security interest". August 28, 2003. see

    - Report, Staff. "Liberia: Peacekeepers, Diplomats Enter Port City of Buchanan." Voice of America News. August 29, 2003. see
  20. Vortexx Skull & Bones Spokesman Registered Senior Member

    ....To hell with humanitarian reasons! You never know when africa could become for some exotic reason relevant again in the future (scarce resources, worldwide millitary conflicts etc) and that is the reason i feel usa governments want to keep at least one small foothold in Africa , that could be used as staging area etc...
  21. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member

    I agree, Vortexx, that humanitarianism is not reason enough to put military forces in a foreign country. Military forces are used for gaining strategic advantage and for providing defense.

    Yes, and how many other African states does he wish to include?
  22. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Well ....

    Not exactly clear, but he seems to be considering the problems of Africa outside Liberia. I remind that it's a hop across the water from Saud into Africa, and there's a troubled zone of failed and failing states that cuts a swath to the Atlantic Coast of Africa. Somebody down at Bush Central has figured out that Africa's Atlantic Coast is too close for comfort.

    I'm under the impression that there's not enough of an infrastructure in Liberia for Al Qaeda to move diamonds through a trade sanction, and no firm link has been established (as the MSNBC article notes), but Warner is displaying what has gone by many names, but most recently has been hollowed out to the term "forward thinking".
    Sounds like he's considering it quite broadly. Who says the Bush-PNAC Doctrine has to be limited to the Middle East ...?

    ... er ...

    Then again, if Bush won't take advantage of that kind of paranoia, apparently Warner will.
  23. Congrats Bartok Fiend Registered Senior Member

    What troubles me about Warner's new Liberia philosophy is that the only rationale he attaches for military action is that a reason for military action may appear in the future. This seems consistent with your philosophy, tiassa. The only way I can describe this is irresponsible pre-emotion.

    The Bush team has never fought a war with this rationale. Afghanistan had a clear link, Iraq has a game-changing oppurtunity; a "war of choice, but the right choice", as Tom Friedman puts it.

    Would Warner support a state of constant war to stabilize every failed state? Central Asia is just a hop across the mountains from the ME, and there are certainly some failed states there.

    I just don't get how a state's failing establishes a terrorist link. It just leaves open an oppurtuinity for one to arise.

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