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August 06, 2003

Potentially Good News for Liberia

Liberian President Charles Taylor is promising to step down on Monday, according to news reports. This would make peacekeepers jobs much easier and open the way to political reform that will placate rebel leaders. It's a nice story.

Taylor, though, has promised on and off to quit his position and has found excuses to put off his exile. There were also stories earlier in the day with Taylor refusing the offer of exile in Nigeria--an offer that this story claims he will be accepting.

As I said, it's a good story, but I'll believe it when he actually steps down.

"President Taylor will leave Liberia after the installation of that vice-president on Monday," Mbeki told reporters after meeting visiting Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in Pretoria.

If the story is correct, though, it leads to an important development. Whereas critics have been up in arms about the fact that American troops have thus far not been deployed in Liberia, it is much better that this task fall to Western African countries than to America and Europe.

For Africa to be self-sufficient, it must also at some point be self-policing. If Arab countries had stepped up and rid the world of Saddam Hussein, had worked independently or under the guidance of the UN, to achieve regime change, the taint of a new colonialism wouldn't be facing the new regime. Unfortunately, the Iraqi people were incapable of gaining their own freedom and surrounding countries incapable and unwilling of applying the kind of pressure it would have taken to remove Hussein.

I still contend that American-led intervention was the right response, but that an Arab solution would have been preferable.

In Liberia, there is the chance to see an African solution to an African problem. With help and aid from the UN and Western countries, change can occur without the strong claim of colonialism. An African solution also keeps the US from further extending already thin troops.

All in all, there is the potential for a template for further African peacekeeping efforts and the potential for solutions not imposed by the West.

Read the story.

Posted by zombyboy at August 6, 2003 03:36 AM

The main reason why everyone is looking to the US to intervene, and maybe even go so far as to clean up this mess, is the international impression that Liberia is our ward.
Because while all the other nations are former European colonies, Liberia was carved out of the colonial framework to provide a place for freed slaves to return to Africa.
Great Britain intervened when Sierra Leone had problems, France got involved when The Ivory Coast got really bad, but who takes care of Liberia?
Us, er, US, that's who. Perhaps even "like it or not".
Yeah, the West African States have a more pressing interest in restoring stability, but we do have some interests as well...
...After all Monrovia wasn't named for anyone French or British...

Posted by: nathan at August 6, 2003 04:00 AM

I'll not disagree with you--at least not precisely. If the situation couldn't be resolved without our assist, I'd think we have an obligation. If it can be handled, though, then all the better.

I would have felt better if both the situations you refer to could have been handled without our intervention, as well.

We definitely have interests--I'll not disagree with you. And the perception of obligation isn't really far off the mark if you ask me. I just happen to believe that help can take many different forms.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 6, 2003 04:15 AM

I still feel that Liberia is a distraction for us. We have to take care of Iran and North Korea first. Probably Saudi Arabia too. I just don't think we can afford Liberia right now, as noble a cause as it may be.

Posted by: sama at August 6, 2003 05:24 PM

Hey, I'm giving some perspective of why everyone (as in, international opinion) is expecting us to at least be involved with boots on the ground.

Posted by: nathan at August 6, 2003 09:38 PM

And you're right, that definitely does seem to be the international perspective.

Posted by: zombyboy at August 6, 2003 09:53 PM
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