August 1, 2003
AS LIBERIA 'CRIES FOR HELP,' U.S.
AND WORLD REMAIN 'PASSIVE'
"screams" for a "determined" intervention, but no one
"wants to make the first move."
** "Only the U.S"
can spare Liberia; its "passive attitude" is
"irresponsible" and "revolting."
** Developing world papers
say U.S. is hesitating because, unlike Iraq, Liberia "has no oil."
** Africans decry AU's
"inaction" and "begging" for help; Liberia is
"Africa's responsibility first."
It is 'unacceptable' for the world to let Liberia slip into
another 'forgotten war'-- Global dailies berated world leaders for allowing a
"tug-of-war" over Liberia and lacking the "political will"
to take the decisive action needed to prevent the situation from
escalating. The sense that
"no one wants to get involved" was pervasive. Dailies on both the left and right accused
the world powers of "cowardice" and "inertia," warning that
if international interest was fading.
Liberia could "get lost in a black hole" and become
"another forgotten war." Echoing
widespread indignation, Italy's conservative news group La Nazione/Il
Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno judged that while "another
humanitarian catastrophe is about to happen," the UN, EU and U.S.
"are passing the buck among themselves on the decisions to be
Washington has a 'moral duty' to intervene, but its response is
'dither and indecision'-- While Liberia is "crying out for help," the U.S.
remains "extraordinarily reluctant" to act because it wants to avoid
a "disaster" like Somalia.
Leftist European dailies faulted the U.S. for, as London's Guardian
put it, "refusing to accept more than a limited share of responsibility
for a country which America both helped create and ruin." Some conservative dailies maintained the U.S.
"has every reason to wait," but others shared the government-owned Cameroon
Times' assertion that: "Doing Liberia right will give substance to
President Bush's many promises of help."
By defending Monrovia the U.S. would demonstrate its foreign policy is
"not only based on self-interest."
Developing world papers, however, suspected that the U.S. is reluctant
to act because, in contrast to Iraq, "there is no oil in the land of
Africa's 'deadly inaction' made Liberia's situation worse-- The assertion that African states "must
step forward" emerged as the standard refrain in the continent's
editorials. South African, Nigerian,
Tanzanian, Ugandan and Burkinabe papers demanded that the AU "take
responsibility" to end Liberia's misery.
Though they alleged, as did Nigeria's pro-Islamic Zaria Al-Mizan,
that nothing exposed the "Americans' hypocrisy about their humanitarian
concern for the rest of the world" more than Liberia, they also conceded
that "Bush was not the only one deserving criticism." South Africa's liberal Star voiced a
typical charge that "Ecowas must take at least an equal share of the blame
for its dithering." It was a
"tragic indictment on all of Africa" that the ceasefire was not
enforced. Burkina Faso's pro-opposition
French-language Le Pays charged African leaders with "total
inertia," as if they were "accomplices" in Liberia's tragedy.
EDITOR: Irene Marr
EDITOR'S NOTE: This report
is based on 68 reports from 32 countries over July 23-August 1. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
The liberal Natal
Witness held (7/25): "The
situation cries out for immediate and direct intervention by a non-partisan
force, not just to restore order but to prevent mischievous neighboring states
from further exploiting the chaos....
America probably lacks both the will and the capacity to offer much
beyond the $10 million it has already pledged to a peacekeeping force.... This, surely, is a moment for African states
to step forward with an African solution to a peculiarly African problem, and
to act with extreme urgency."
"No More Après Vous"
The liberal Star commented (7/24): "While Liberians die like flies, the
world is experiencing a fatal attack of politeness.... The world is watching in horror and different
forces are thinking about doing something about it. But no one seems to want to make the first
move..... So everyone is waiting for
someone else to make the first move, in a deadly charade of etiquette.... U.S. President George Bush is being vilified
in Africa, especially for refusing to act....
But there is some hypocrisy in Africans slamming Bush for using force in
Iraq and then pleading for him to use it in Liberia. And Bush is not the only one deserving
criticism. Ecowas must take at least an
equal share of the blame for its dithering....
If the African Union wishes to retain any credibility for its recently
declared commitment to conflict resolution, it must use whatever influence it
can to ensure that Ecowas puts robust troops on the ground in Monrovia very
quickly. Someone has to be rude
and barge in first to prevent the sacking of the capital. If no one else will, Africa must. This, in the end, is after all our problem.
No more après vous, s'il vous plait."
The liberal Mercury opined (7/24): "It is as if the states of West Africa,
and the world in general, simply do not have the will to intervene in a
conflict which--though it poses terrible risks to the civilian
population--could be neutralized without great difficulty by a disciplined
military force. Another African
catastrophe by default would be shameful.
The Economic Community of West Africa and the U.S. need to commit
themselves to intervention and effect it as speedily as possible. They could otherwise be judged harshly."
Deadly African Inaction"
Pro-government, Afro-centric Sowetan commented (7/23):
"It is a tragic indictment on all of Africa that a month after a peace
agreement is secured, 700 Liberians should die in such violent
circumstances.... Africa has done little to demonstrate that it appreciates and
understands the dire state of affairs in Liberia.... Ecowas stood ready to deploy an African
peacekeeping force. But the senseless
slaughter...begs the question: why was the deal not enforced with the obvious
urgency demanded by the fragility of the ceasefire? Ecowas...cannot afford any
further inaction. It must immediately deploy a military force and remove Taylor
so that the rest of the plan can be implemented... Liberia is Africa's responsibility
first. And Africa must embrace that
responsibility before it calls on the United States and Europe for
support.... Africa's hand wringing must
end. Foreigners, including former
colonizers, must follow Africa's lead - not the other way round."
"Liberia A Broken Dream"
Liberal Daily News commented (7/23): "Rapid American intervention is now
being held out as the only hope of preventing an escalation of bloodshed in
Liberia. But President Bush is...running
scared of committing U.S. troops to a conflict which he has no guarantee of
winning. The reality is that the U.S., as the only current superpower, is
reluctant to become the world's sole policeman.... It will be argued that the AU has yet to find
its feet in terms of its continental responsibilities, but it is a role it will
have to learn to fill very quickly, because it cannot, and would not want to,
rely on the U.S. to get involved in future African conflict. And, regrettably, there will be more
conflicts. Meanwhile, Liberia can only look to the U.S. and hope for
Mohammed Haruna commented in Hausa-language,
independent pro-Islamic biweekly Zaria Al-Mizan (7/31): "Nothing exposes the American hypocrisy
about their humanitarian concerns for the rest of the world than the case of
Liberia.... The same America that cited
humanitarian grounds for sending over a quarter of a million troops to Iraq
could not see the humanitarian need for sending a mere 2,000 troops to
Liberia. So much then for America's much
touted milk of human kindness.
Obviously, the difference between Iraq and Liberia is oil. Iraq has it in abundance and all that Liberia
has is its miserable, wretched people. A
few diamonds, yes, but that is hardly enough to whet the appetite of the
rapacious American Big Business that has since hijacked the machinery of state
in God's own country.... So, if the
Americans are wary of spending men in bringing peace to Liberia, they should at
least be prepared to spend dollars. The
Nigerian army chief of staff, Lt.-Gen. Martin Agwai says America has given $10
million but this does not appear to be enough.... The United Nations should stop moralizing
sermons and galvanize the world community to put an end to the misery in
Liberia and persuade America to abandon this funny game it calls
"End Foot-Dragging On Liberia"
The government-owned New Nigerian opined (7/30): "Recent developments have...once again
raised hopes that at last some form of intervention is being undertaken to stop
the carnage. At the weekend, the U.S.
President ordered one of its warships to sail to and anchor off the coast of
Liberia. Although the stated purpose of
the troops is to offer 'limited' assistance...the move would nonetheless bring
some cheer to an otherwise gloomy prospect in that war-weary country. New Nigerian believes that by
withdrawing to pre-conflict lines, as the American ambassador had suggested,
the LURD rebels should not consider it capitulation on their own part, but as
part of a strategy to bring in much-needed relief to the civilian population
traumatized by the actions of both sides."
The Abuja-based independent Daily Trust observed
(7/30): "America has moral reason
enough to intervene in Liberia, at least more moral reason than led it to
committing a quarter million troops to its invasion of Iraq. America went to Iraq, at least so said the
White House...to get rid of a monster and his regime which was oppressing his
own people. Well, in Liberia three armed
groups are not only oppressing their people but also killing them at the rate
of hundreds by the day to boot. So if
the Americans are wary of spending men in bringing peace to Liberia, they
should at least be prepared to spend dollars.
The Nigerian chief of army staff, Lt Gen. Martin Agwai says America has
given $10 million, but this does not appear to be enough.... The UN should stop moralizing sermons and
galvanize the world community to put an end to the misery in Liberia and
persuade America to abandon this funny game it calls peacekeeping."
Mohammed Haruna held in the Lagos-based independent Comet
(7/30): "At first they based their
case for invading Iraq on the country's alleged possessions of weapons of mass
destruction. First, the Americans tried
to link Iraq's alleged possession of WMD with the much-dreaded Al-Qaeda.... And now, nothing exposes the American
hypocrisy about their humanitarian concerns for the rest of the world more than
the case of Liberia. Perhaps Liberia's
Charles Taylor and the rebels fighting him are not as murderous as Saddam, but
between them they have killed enough Liberians in the last several weeks of the
country's civil war to prick the conscience of any one but the most
hard-hearted person.... However, the
same America that pleaded humanitarian grounds for sending over a quarter of a
million troops to Iraq could not see the humanitarian need for sending a mere
2000 troops to Liberia. So much then for
America's much touted milk of human kindness."
"African Strike Force"
Privately-owned independent Daily Champion
asserted (Internet Version, 7/28):
"In such countries as Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan, Burundi and
Congo, crises that could have been contained if decisive collective action had
been promptly taken, have been allowed to degenerate into full scale wars that
have consumed hundreds of thousands of people, rendered many more refugees and
left the economies of the affected countries devastated. The crises degenerate
because of the absence of a standing military strike force that could be
deployed to the trouble spots at short notice.... The ideal situation would be for the sub
regional or continental strike force, honed to the point of near perfection by
trainers, including foreign experts, to be ever ready for rapid deployment to
trouble spots.... The idea of foreign
troops being flown into the sub region or continent whenever there is crisis is
unacceptable and indeed, dangerous.... Countries in the sub-regions and
continent, however distressed or crisis-torn they may be, should not be allowed
by their more fortunate sister-nations to slide back into the direct military
and, or political control of their erstwhile colonial masters.... The coast
thus is clear, for the setting up of the strike forces, especially also, given
the example set by the modest successes of the campaigns of the ECOWAS
Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Sierra Leone and in the earlier crisis in
Liberia. What is left is the political
will and commitment to the project by all the stakeholders."
BURKINA FASO: "Liberian Crisis - Getting Chaotic?"
Privately-owned, pro-oppostion French-language Le
Pays (Internet version, 7/28):
"Liberians have been left to their fate. The few humanitarian
organizations that remained in the muddle no longer dare go near the war front,
since no distinction is now made between military and civilian targets. And
since the end of the war depends on the will of the 'master of Monrovia,'
whether to throw in the towel or not in the face of the furor of the rebels,
one should expect the number of dead bodies to soar in the next couple of
days.... Meanwhile, ECOWAS is increasingly
showing its inability to defend democratic principles, which are being freely
trampled on in Liberia.... The international community seems to be defending
'democracy and peace,' but when it comes to Liberia, we see total inertia,
especially on the part of African leaders, as if they were accomplices, which
is paradoxical though. By choosing to abandon Charles Taylor in accordance with
the will of Bush, is ECOWAS not setting a legal precedent that will, in future,
catch up with all the other heads of state? Whose turn will it be?.... As for ECOWAS, which is henceforth entangled
in its own contradictions, it is still hesitant and showing its powerlessness
to save a 'democratic regime' and a people that are on the verge of
extermination. Thus, dead or alive,
Charles Taylor will probably lose his throne. But what will become of Liberia?
Certainly there will no longer be the desire of liberty, which guided the
former black slaves to this land."
"Liberia: A Nation Falling
Ekinneh Agbaw-Ebai wrote in the government-owned Cameroon
Tribune (7/23): “UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan and West African countries have implored the Bush
administration to send peacekeepers. But
the U.S. is resisting the appeals, countering that Liberia's neighbors should
act first in helping stabilize the country....
In trying to minimize its commitment, the U.S. should intervene in
Liberia, in a way to avoid future complications. Peacekeeping should be guided by the same
principle that Colin Powell, as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff,
brought to fighting wars: If the U.S. has to do it, it should mobilize a
sufficiently strong force to get the job done.... Doing Liberia right will give substance to
President Bush's many promises of help during his recent trip and strengthen
African support in the war against terrorism.... Abandoning Liberia at its darkest hour will
only lead to chaos, further humanitarian crises, recrimination, and eventually,
the need for a stronger U.S. force. The
time to act is now!"
"France, The U.S., And Us"
Jean-Baptiste Akrou wrote in government-owned Fraternite Matin
(7/28): "Whatever the imperfections
for which the French intervention may be blamed, it has spared our country an
unparalleled disaster.... France deserves to be congratulated at a time when
the U.S. presents the image of a big power bogged down in indifference and
petty calculations as the UN and ECOWAS have been begging it to intervene in
Liberia. Unlike France whose awkward
stand in the Ivorian crisis has been deplored by some people, the U.S. has
disappointed Liberians, Africans, and the international community by its
hesitation. While everybody unanimously
agrees to deplore the humanitarian disaster in Liberia, a country created and
originally populated by freed Black American slaves, the U.S. administration is
dragging its foot. Trigger-happy Bush is
hesitating and hesitating, turning his back on desperate Liberians. This stand should serve as food for thought
for the Ivorian patriots who, at the height of the crisis, had thought of
begging the U.S .to come and supplant France in Cote d'Ivoire."
Liberia: The Politics Of Interest Reality, Lessons
The urban, independent weekly
Network Herald, stated (7/29-30):
“Alas! The chief commander of the U.S. military, President George Bush,
has ordered a limited number of his troops to be positioned in the Gulf of
Guinea off the coast of war torn Liberia to serve as a buck up to ECOWAS
forces, which are by the large Nigerians. The ambiguity of the U.S. role to curb
the escalating military confrontation in Liberia calls to question the
commitment of the U.S., especially the Bush administration, towards Africa.
Those who criticized his recent trip to Africa as a show of hypocrisy now have
another evidence to add to the body of literature that argues that Africa is a
marginalized continent in the world of politics especially to the Bush
TANZANIA: "AU Should
Resolve Africa's Civil Conflicts"
The English-language Habari Corporation-owned African
editorialized (7/25): “Scenes of
civilians caught in the crossfire of Liberia's civil war this week have been
quite saddening. They have put to
question the credibility of both the UN and in particular the new African Union
as competent bodies for bringing peace to world trouble spots. Inaction by the AU has necessitated pressure
to pile on U.S. President Bush to send in troops.... The UN's weak support for a Nigeria-led
combat force under the Economic Community of West African States has led to a
hesitant response by ECOWAS to intervene in Liberia. As a result, pressure builds on Bush, who in
turn keeps asking ECOWAS to act first.
There is another obstacle that hinders UN action in Liberia. President Charles Taylor was indicted for war
crimes by an UN-sponsored court, but he won’t step down unless he's given
immunity. The UN needs to resolve the
tension between its goal of saving lives in Liberia and its goal of
international justice. The U.S.
hesitancy to act in a 'peace-making' operation that is not related to terrorism
reflects these larger questions hanging over the UN's role. This is a case where the Security Council
could have revived its legitimacy after its rupture over the Iraq war. But it appears nothing of the sort will
happen.... It's time the AU resolved the continent's conflicts."
"Africa Should Not Close Its Eyes Concerning Liberia"
The independent Kiswahili Mwananchi
carried an editorial asserting (7/23):
“The security situation in Monrovia is appalling. The truth is that, if
urgent measures are not taken to arrest the situation there, the country might
soon become as ungovernable as Somalia.
It is the responsibility of African countries, through the African
Union, to save the people of Liberia from this calamity. The fact that the African
Union doesn’t have its own peacekeeping force is a great impediment to African
efforts directed towards dealing with such conflicts. But it is encouraging to hear that West
African leaders are gathering in Dakar to discuss sending a peacekeeping force
to that troubled country. There is no
doubt that Africa delayed too long in taking steps to spare the country from
disintegrating. But we believe there is
still an opportunity to take corrective steps.
We call upon African leaders not to close their eyes...and not to see
this as an issue that affects only West Africa.
America has agreed to send in more than 4,000 troops to restore peace.
But we still think that Africans should shoulder this responsibility.”
"Democracy Is Key To Ending War"
An op-ed in the independent Monitor judged (8/1): "In July when U.S. President George W.
Bush visited Uganda, Global Journalist/KBIA, a U.S. radio in Colombia,
Missouri, hosted a live tele-discussion.
The crisis in Liberia stole the limelight of the discussion. Some participants argued emotionally about
the need for the U.S. to intervene in the Liberian crisis by deploying its
troops there. I opposed the idea. And with good reason. This is a short-term solution to an endemic
African problem. American troops won’t
end every bloody war on the continent.
The turnover of wars is simply too high. There is war in the DR of the
Congo, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Somalia. The list is depressingly long. In my opinion, the solution lies in making it
criminal for gunmen to wage war against legitimate governments. And secondly, to make it criminal for African
rulers to hold on to power undemocratically.
If the U.S., the 'international policeman,' must intervene to help
Africa plug its bloodletting, the above scenarios best define the intervention
"How Dare You Kneel
Weekly Muslim edition Message contended (7/22-28): "Shame upon African leaders. How dare you kneel before U.S. President
Bush, asking him to send a peacekeeping force to a member state of the African
Union? It is ridiculous? You should instead have devised your own
mechanism through which to send an African peacekeeping force to Liberia. Despite the fact that Liberian president
Charles Taylor, has called upon the U.S. to intervene to stop the civil war in
the country, President Bush has remained reluctant to sending a fully-fledged
peace keeping force to a country with which it has strong historical links.
With that background, there was no need for President Abdoulaye Wade, Gen.
Olusegun Obasanjo and others to call upon Bush to send a peacekeeping force to
war torn Liberia. The African Union will
only be successful if it works as a body to ensure that each member state is run
on democratic principles. It must block
direct intervention in Africa by imperial powers."
Helped Ruin Liberia. Now It Must Help
Martin Woollacott argued in the left-of-center Guardian
(8/1): "The world cannot just watch
as west Africa falls apart, the U.S. secretary of state Colin Powell, said last
week. But the extraordinarily reluctant
way in which the U.S. has been edging toward the commitment of troops to
Liberia shows the Bush administration still refusing to accept more than a
limited share of responsibility for a country which America both helped
create...and helped ruin.... On his
recent African tour, Bush had to deal directly with the argument that, if
Americans can go to war, among other reasons, to rescue Iraqis, then why cannot
they undertake a modest deployment to a country with which America has close
historical ties, and which is crying out for U.S. help? Even if effective and human political leaders
emerge, however, there is a huge task of physical, social, and psychological
reconstruction in which Liberia will need sustained help from outside. America had much to do with the unmaking of
this little nation, and, if asked, as it surely will be, should have much to do
in its restoration."
"Indecision In America, A Ceasefire In
The center-left Independent editorialized (7/30): "As the day of the post-war settlement
comes nearer, Kofi Annan's warning that they could deprive themselves of a seat
at the table has sobered their leaders [of Lurd], if not the fighters on the
ground. At the same time, Washington
does seem to have brought considerable pressure on Guinea.... Like it or not, America is now involved in
this fray. At the very least the
Nigerian peacekeepers standing by will need full logistical support from the
U.S. ships on their way to the area if they are to secure a ceasefire. At the worst, a resumption in fighting will
bring with it a rising tide of human calamity that demands direct intervention.
President Bush's attempt to face both
ways, bringing on the ships but refusing to land the troops, may yet be saved
by the ceasefire. But it's an indecision
that becomes positively irresponsible if the fighting starts up again."
"Wanted: UN Peace Force"
An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian held
(7/29): "It is a sign of UN
weakness in the aftermath of the struggles over Iraq that the focus of calls
for intervention has been the U.S. rather than the UN. The Nigerians will not, as they should be,
going in under the UN banner. Nor will
any multilateral force that includes the U.S.
In an ideal world, there should be no need for the U.S., but the West
Africans are reluctant to send troops unless the U.S. is involved. Liberia is a sad reminder of the urgent need
for the UN to overhaul its peacekeeping operations.... Such a reform was proposed by a UN study two
years ago, but Mr. Annan failed to persuade the Security Council to implement
it. The international community is
unwilling to supply either money or soldiers.
Until it does, there will be messy, unsatisfactory compromises, as in
the intervention force being prepared for Liberia, with the U.S. sitting
offshore, without a UN mandate."
The independent Financial Times argued (7/25): "A private military company is offering
to do what the U.S. government has not: deploy peacekeepers to Liberia. For many people, the idea of mercenaries is
repugnant. But failing to help the
people of Monrovia is also unacceptable.
The real objections to the use of private armies for peacekeeping are
not ethical but practical. A UN
convention opposes the use of mercenaries, viewing them as a threat to
sovereign states. The first concern is
that private armies may not have the same objectives as their employers. Diamond mines may be a more attractive
military objective than peace.... The lack of a strong legal framework may be
appealing to governments that would prefer to maintain deniability while proxy
armies violate international law. This
is a third objection to the use of private armies. As long as the great powers hesitate to
commit peacekeeping troops, they must develop the option of using private
"Liberia Ripe For Peace"
The conservative Daily Telegraph took this view (7/24): "The Left was keen for the United States
to intervene in Kosovo in 1999 and is now urging the same for Liberia.... Today, Washington has pledged help in
pacifying Liberia but has yet to commit troops, earning it the censure of the
Left.... At the moment there is
stalemate. Ecowas is reluctant to deploy
until government and rebels have signed a ceasefire, and Mr. Bush wants to see
the shape of the regional force before deciding on American participation. Given Liberia's lack of strategic importance,
the President's hesitancy is understandable.
Nevertheless, there is a fair chance that a small, focused American
presence could make the difference between war and peace."
"The Case For American Intervention To End This Bloodshed In
An editorial in the center-left Independent held
(7/23): "The question now is
whether Liberia can be rescued before things deteriorate further. The signs are that Liberians yearn to be
rescued from their plight by an American force.
President Taylor's government has invited the U.S. to intervene, which
may not be such a compelling reason for President George Bush to send U.S.
forces into such a risky operation. For
although the President's recent tour of Africa was well-received and seemed to
betoken a genuine commitment to helping the continent, he is understandably
worried about American troops being deployed into such a dangerous
place.... And, let us be frank, for a
cause far less obviously in line with the pursuit of American national
interests.... Liberia, in other words,
has no oil and little else in the way of natural resources. Yet the case for American intervention goes
far beyond history and sentiment. There are humanitarian arguments that should
be imperative, not least the need to prevent mass starvation, but such moral
factors rarely hold that much sway among the harder-edged advisers surrounding
Patrick Sabatier opined in left-of-center Liberation
(7/29): “Never has an American military
intervention been so desired, with such desperate fervor.... But Bush, the proponent and champion of
preventive war has turned a deaf ear....
The slow crumbling of Liberia is a cancer that infects and destabilizes
all of West Africa. Its president is a
thug, responsible for crimes against humanity and accused of diamond
trafficking that benefited in part the likes of Bin Laden. And yet Bush still continues to think that
intervening in Liberia is not in the national security interest of the
U.S.... President Bush’s refusal to act
has already claimed more victims than his controversial intervention in
Iraq. The doubts (no matter how
legitimate they may be) of the dangers (no matter how real they are) cannot
justify this inactivity. There is a duty
to intervene. The American army must
"To Intervene In Liberia"
Left-of-center Le Monde judged (7/28): “The U.S. must
intervene in Liberia.… Washington only continues to hesitate because it
bitterly remembers the operation in Somalia.… But only the U.S. has the power
to break the cycle of violence in Liberia.… Washington needs to show that
putting a stop to the suffering and reestablishing peace and freedom does not
hold only for Iraq.”
"Liberia: Pax Americana"
In the editorial in right-of-center Le Figaro Georges
Suffert wrote (7/23): “These pitiful people are calling out for the help of the
Americans who have been hesitating for months. The U.S. is concerned about
intervening elsewhere (than in Iraq) as if it was keeping its forces in reserve
for other fronts. Nevertheless, yesterday, following an attack on its embassy,
the U.S. decided to deploy 4,500 soldiers that are to remain along the African
coast.… A prudent show of determination, meanwhile the war goes on.… The
Liberians know that only a decision on the part of the U.S. to intervene could
change the course of things.… Heads of state in other countries, without
admitting it, are also waiting to see what the U.S. will decide. You do not
become the world’s superpower for nothing.
President Bush is well aware of this and for once he would like to have
the opinion of Paris. France however has
remained silent, it knows that this is a dangerous area and hesitates to
endanger its tenuous achievements in Ivory Coast. Once again the U.S. has its back to the
wall...it will have to act and is resigning itself to do so.”
GERMANY: "Liberia Is
Arne Perras argued in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche
Zeitung of Munich (8/1): "For
the people in Monrovia it is really depressing that the United States of all
nations is shying away from massive intervention, even though it sent totally
different signals a few months ago.... A
mission in Liberia does hardly harbor the same risks for the United States as
it faced in Somalia a few years ago.... This inability to differentiate is also
based on western arrogance, which hardly takes any effort to look at the local
peculiarities on the African continent.
Instead, the North tends to consider Africa a monolithic bloc.... In Liberia, things are different: the country is small and the three million
inhabitants are inspired by only one wish: May the U.S. marines finally
come.... And even the militia forces of
the hostile parties want good relations with the Washington.... In order to end the suffering of hundreds of
thousands of Liberians, there is only one chance: immediate military
intervention. The problems of the
country will not be resolved by it and the United States should be ready for a
lengthy stay to set the course for a political new beginning, too. But this is the last chance to save the state
of Liberia from decline."
"To Avoid A Somalia Disaster, U.S. Remains Passive"
Right-of-center Rhein-Zeitung of Koblenz judged (8/1): "The Americans in particular have
difficulty accepting the pleas of the people [of Liberia]. But it was the Americans who...profited for
years from the raw material depots of the country. The Bush cabinet is acting in an uncertain
way. In order to avoid a disaster like
the one in Somalia...the United States prefers to remain passive. But America risks becoming a witness to mass
dying and of making a similar mistake as in the past in Rwanda.... It is highly questionable whether an African
peacekeeping force can bring peace to Liberia if the United States confines its
involvement to a consulting role.
Liberia was for a long time the U.S. backyard. Even in times of greatest misery, the United
States should remember this."
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger judged in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (7/30): “If the U.S.
first picks up the sword and then gets involved in Liberia’s reconstruction, it
will trigger another stage in a West African development that began with the
British intervention in Sierra Leone, was continued by France in the Ivory
Coast, and might be far from over. Back
to the 19th century? If the history of
colonialism were not so distressing, one might feel tempted to say that this
would not be the worst of perspectives for many in Africa.... The decision to create order where civil wars
are being waged, where a collapsing state causes anarchy and suffering cannot
be based solely on ethical considerations. Mental and material preparation for
such a mission is essential, as well as endurance and strength. Anyone lacking these will be overwhelmed by
the enormous resistance following the military intervention. The UN has often faced this dilemma, and
nobody should have any illusion about this dynamic.”
Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich maintained
(7/30): “Charles Taylor has already been
charged with war crimes in Sierra Leone, and now the rebels, too, have
surrendered their future leadership by resorting to brutality. The United States has not played a
praiseworthy role in all of this. First
Washington indicated its willingness to take swift action to secure a
ceasefire, then it pulled back and allowed the rebels to take over. Now it is almost too late to stop the
Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger noted in a front-page editorial in
center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (7/28): “A U.S.-Nigerian force in
Liberia would probably be able to keep the country from falling apart, but it
would not prevent anarchy and chaos in the long run. If the troops are withdrawn without a halfway
legitimate and democratic government being installed, a new group of thugs will
show up ready to murder its way to power.
In other words - anyone who accepts the responsibility of intervening
must, whether he wants to or not, also accept responsibility for the time after
the fight, and that is a heavy burden indeed.”
"Beyond All Rules"
Ingrid Mueller observed in a front-page editorial in centrist Der
Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/28):
"The Nigerian troops that are supposed to shoulder most of the
responsibility were already involved in the last civil war...which makes it
advisable to let others play the role of lead nation.... U.S. companies profited from doing business
with Liberia’s elite while most of the population continued to live in
poverty. This means that the United
States has a responsibility going beyond the financial support of African
troops and naval patrols.... Things have
to happen quickly now…but it will take a long-term mission to pacify the
country. This is a task for the United
Nations, a task that could relax U.S.-UN relations.... The most difficult challenge, however, will
be to use diplomacy to change Africa’s corrupt structure.”
Michael Bitala stated in an editorial in
center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/24): “In light of the
escalating crisis in Liberia, the international community must take
action.... The longer the hesitation,
the more people will have to die.... A
non-African force must take on the leadership role in the country.... Much would be gained if between 2,000 and
3,000 Americans or Europeans, supported by West Africans, took over Monrovia
and the surrounding counties. This is
where more than two thirds of Liberia’s population lives. Such a mission could protect people’s lives
and ease the humanitarian catastrophe.
Afterwards, it would be up to the UN to support the mission with a force
of approximately 15,000...and expand the mission to all parts of the
country. Such an intervention would
probably last a year, and the UN would have to assist in putting together an
interim government to remain in power until free elections can take place.”
ITALY: "Liberia, The
Anais Ginori reported in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (8/1): “The U.S. has not
decided yet whether to send its soldiers to Liberia, but it presented a
resolution calling for an immediate action of an peace international force
under the UN aegis.... The resolution
gives the UN flag and a financial support to the peace force, which has been
already approved by the Ecowas.... By
next week the UN mission should be approved....
Indeed, President Bush reaffirmed that conditions to intervene--that is
the ceasefire and the resignation of President Taylor--are not there
yet.... The document presented by the
U.S. has already received the positive opinion by the UNSC member states. Only one clause created some perplexities. It is article 18, in which they make clear
that the newborn International Criminal Court cannot try the soldiers deployed
in Liberia. Indeed, this is a condition
that the U.S. now deems necessary for all international missions.”
"Liberia Is Dying, But Nobody Does Anything"
A commentary by Aldo Forbice in La Nazione/Il
Resto del Carlino/Il Giorno conservative newspaper group declared
(7/31): “The United Nations asked Nigeria to intervene with 1,300 troops, but
the ECOWACS ‘peacekeeping force’ in Liberia has not materialized yet as the
fighting is intensifying with the opening of new fronts by the rebels. Even the White House has promised over the
last few days that it would intervene by sending ships with 4,500 marines, but,
so far, not a single soldier has landed.
The truth is that the United States is very cautious. While it is interested in the Liberia case
for the ‘strong historical ties’ with that country, it does everything to avoid
becoming involved in another conflict whose political outcome is still
unpredictable. On one side, the U.S.
asked that the dictator in charge, Charles Taylor, leave the country.... On the
other, it fears that the rebels from the various fighting groups...may turn the
country into another Somalia.... The United States, in sum, is trying to
postpone a decision. In the meantime, it
is trying to push the UN to achieve a ceasefire. All of the above as the siege on Monrovia
continues and the population is exhausted, without food and medicines. Another humanitarian catastrophe is about to
happen, but the UN, the EU and the U.S. are passing the buck among themselves
on the decisions to be taken.”
"Liberia Carries Out Massacres In Solitude"
Bruno Marolo opined in pro-democratic left L’Unitá
(7/30): “Bush urges the Africans to take
charge. Annan’s pressure did not convince the U.S. President, advised by
Rumsfeld, to intervene in Liberia, the small country founded by freed former
slaves. Perhaps Washington will send in a few ships off the African coast.
Nigeria may be deploying 1300 soldiers in the next few days. In the meantime,
people in Liberia are dying and thousands of refugees are abandoning their
flaming cities. One of the rebel movements declared and then disclaimed a
ceasefire, but fighting continues in Monrovia and in the other principal cities.”
"Monrovia, Battles On The Streets. The Rebels To U.S.: You
Will Not Stop Us"
Anais Ginori observed in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (7/28): “The Liberian
rebels have no intentions of backing off, as the U.S. had asked in order to
permit the arrival of a peacekeeping force. The advance toward the center of
Monrovia by the guerrillas is continuing with ever more violent battles and
indiscriminate attacks of heavy artillery.… U.S. Ambassador John Blaney’s
appeal did not succeed in stopping the rebels’ offensive.… The humanitarian
situation is growing worse by the hour, even if the rain permitted the
collection of drinking water in tanks and barrels. According to the Red Cross, Monrovia is
risking a serious food shortage.… The United States reiterated yesterday that
it would intervene only after a truce is in place. ‘U.S. military personnel –
said the Pentagon’s number two man, Paul Wolfowitz – will go into Liberia only
after a ceasefire is in place and once Charles Taylor has left the country.’”
“U.S. Ships Off The Coast Of Liberia”
Maurizio Molinari stated in
centrist, influential La Stampa (7/26): “A subtle tug-of-war is going on
between the State Department and the Pentagon regarding the decision to send
the Marines [to Liberia]. On two
different occasions this week, Secretary of State Colin Powell had said he was
in favor of a military mission, while encountering resistance on the part of
the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.… In choosing to accept Powell’s
proposal, but to limit the involvement of men and means, President Bush has
adopted a line of conduct which takes into consideration both positions within
the administration. What will happen once the Marines land remains to be
seen. According to military
intelligence, there is a great chance of clashes with local armed factions.”
RUSSIA: "Liberia Is No Iraq"
Yevgeniy Bai filed from Washington for reformist Izvestiya
(7/23): "Washington's Liberia policy is a direct opposite of its Iraq
policy. The Americans clearly want to
avoid armed intervention in Liberia in spite of even the shelling of the U.S.
Embassy. The White House does not feel
like starting a new military operation, no matter how limited."
Failure To Solve Conflicts Internally"
In mass-circulation Kurier, Walter Friedl
wrote (8/1): “The tug-of-war over the
stationing of peace troops in Liberia is shameful. For weeks, diplomats have been debating when
and how it would be opportune to intervene, while the civilian population is
being slaughtered in a murderous war.
The situation is clear: In Africa’s current political state, only the
U.S. can save the disintegrating country from sliding into absolute chaos. However, the world’s policeman seems to be on
holiday. Originally, Nigerian soldiers
were supposed to establish order in Liberia, but during their last stint in the
civil war between 1990 and 1997, all they seemed to be good at was
looting. At the end of the day, the U.S.
will have to participate in the mission and at least pull the strings behind
the scenes.… The dogma of non-interference must be thrown overboard.… As there
is no such thing as a genuine African strategy for solving conflicts, Africa
depends on policemen from overseas. At
times, this seems to be a lonely position to be in.”
"The UN Is Begging, The U.S. Is Trembling"
Senior editor Helmut L. Müller observed In independent daily Salzburger
“Not much has remained of President Bush’s promises that the U.S.
was going to help Liberia. Secretary of
State Colin Powell is the only one still insisting that America must not turn
away from this particular African crisis, as historical ties exist between the
two countries.... But now that murderous
battles between rebels and government troops are tearing Liberia apart and
torturing the civilian population, America is standing by and doing nothing.... [T]he Pentagon seems to fear a repetition of
the disaster in Somalia, but also the overexertion of its own strength. How important, after all, is a small country
in Africa? How important is an
intervention there, in comparison with U.S. commitments in Afghanistan and
Iraq? A humanitarian intervention where
American national interests are not at stake?
Is Bush applying a double standard?
Or do morals stand a chance against political realism after all?”
BELGIUM: "Liberia Threatens To Become Bush’s Rwanda"
Isa Van Dorsselaer judged in independent Christian-Democrat De
Standaard (7/23): “While more than
4,500 U.S. soldiers are steaming to the Mediterranean a formal decision still
has to be made. It is virtually certain
that Bush will send troops, but the U.S. president emphasized last week that
their number will be ‘modest’ and that they will not stay in Liberia for a long
time.... Observers are warning that a
debacle is possible if the United States does not clearly opt for a strong and
effective presence. The ideal moment for
an intervention is disappearing rapidly. The ceasefire that survived for one month
seemed to be the ideal moment to intervene.
However, now that the fighting between the Lurd rebels and Taylor’s
troops is flaring up again, the U.S. troops would no longer have to maintain a
ceasefire but be forced to impose it. It
is no longer classical peacekeeping but a combat situation - with an
increasingly hostile population that has little confidence in the West African
troops.... Observers warn that Liberia
threatens to become Bush’s Rwanda: an opportunity to avoid a human tragedy
because there was no courage or will to decide.”
CROATIA: "Good And Bad
Jurica Korbler argued in Zagreb-based, government-owned Vjesnik
(7/28): "Pax americana is thus
being assessed differently, based on the position on the globe and
circumstances which lead to the American engagement. For some, Americans are only Rambo-like
characters from the movies, for others, peacemakers. World policemen for some, firefighters for
others. The fact is that at this moment
they are the only true world superpower, whether someone likes it or not, and
one has a hard time imagining world peace, and, unfortunately, (a few) wars
too, without them."
DENMARK: "Give U.S. A
An editorial in left-of-center, intellectual Information
judged (Internet version, 7/31):
"All these years, the United States and the EU have turned their
backs on the incredible suffering of almost three million Liberians. A little emergency and development aid is
more or less all the inhabitants have seen of the rich countries.... However, it now looks as if the fighting in
the capital, along with the calls for help from the United Nations and
emergency aid organizations, have made a few diplomats and politicians take a
closer look at this little spot on the map of Africa. Unfortunately, only time will tell whether
the statements by presidents in the United States and West Africa will turn
into anything other than castles in the air....
This 'we-will-have-to-wait-and-see' policy is also found among Liberia's
neighbors.... Over the last few weeks,
ECOWAS has tried to wring promises of as much money and military support as
possible out of the United States. This haggling over the price while people
are dying in Liberia may not be very flattering to these West African
countries, but it is completely understandable given their empty treasuries and
the duration and complexity of this conflict.
In contrast to the situation in Iraq, the inhabitants of Liberia, the
United Nations, and the European Union have all asked the United States to send
in troops, materiel, and money.... By
signaling cooperation and involvement, the EU could show the United States that
there are better and more sustainable ways of nation-building that we are
currently witnessing in Iraq."
"Bush Must Face Up To Responsibility In Liberia"
Sensationalist tabloid BT judged (7/23): “We can hope that Bush is aware enough of
America’s responsibility that he will stop the carnage in Africa.”
GREECE: "Liberia And
Africa In A Black Hole Of International Interest"
The lead editorial in elite, staunchly
pro-government left-of-center To Vima read (7/30):
“International interest in the humanitarian
disaster in Liberia is fading.... Not
even the usually willing to intervene Americans took any initiative to end the
tragedy.... Liberia tends to become a
symbol of what’s been haunting Africa in the past two decades: it’s getting
lost in a black hole of interest on the part of the West, developed countries,
their pharmaceutical companies, and their development experts.... Occasionally, interest is awakened; then, it
fades away. The images are too tough,
and financial stakes hard to determine.”
IRELAND: "Disgraceful Delay"
The center-left Irish Times held
(7/29): "On the eve of President
Bush's recent tour of Africa...the U.S. president agreed to commit troops to
the peace-enforcing mission albeit with some reluctance, no doubt mindful of
what headlines might say during his trip had he been churlish enough to say
no. U.S. forces, he promised, would
provide logistical, but not combat, support to the promised West African
mission to be led by Nigerians. That is, when Liberia's indicted war-criminal
president, Mr. Charles Taylor, had gone into exile. Weeks on, and the one
million people of Monrovia, besieged and under fire, running out of food and
water, are still waiting.... On the
ground in Liberia the bloody deadlock would be farcical if it were not so
tragic: Mr. Taylor won't leave until the peacekeepers come in, and the
peacekeepers won't come in until he has gone.... This diplomatic danse macabre is a
disgrace.... Is this truly the great power
that has embarked on a unilateral mission to banish tyranny and terrorism from
the world? Once again, it appears, the tragic impotence of global security
mechanisms, particularly the UN, are shamefully exposed--victims of the lack of
political will when the vital interests of the United States are not at stake.”
In Battle For Monrovia, But Death Toll Rises"
Walsh observed in the center-left Irish Times (7/23): “Liberian rebels
called a halt to the blistering battle for Monrovia yesterday following another
day of intense shelling of Liberia's blood-soaked capital.... Angry Liberians continued to blame the U.S.
for failing to send peacekeepers following weeks of hesitation by President
Bush. They left the mangled bodies of 17 people, who died after a shell
exploded near the U.S. embassy on Monday, laid out on the street in front of
the embassy complex yesterday morning. Liberians saw it is a silent protest at
US inaction.…The U.S. is sending 4,500 marines and sailors to Liberia by sea -
they are not expected for at least a week - but the Bush administration
continued to stall on whether they will have a combat mission.... The U.S. criticised the LURD for ‘reckless
and indiscriminate shooting’.... It was
a change from previous rhetoric when the U.S. focused its criticism only on Mr
Taylor, who is wanted on war crimes charges."
NORWAY: "The UN’s Role
Must Be Strengthened"
The social democratic Dagsavisen commented (7/27): “The tragedy that is now playing itself out
in Liberia again shows the need for strengthening the UN’s ability to intervene
more quickly when there is need for that....
What is happening in Liberia is not unique, and it will happen
again. There is therefore all reason to
again take up the discussion about a UN force that might be ready to go out on
short notice.... But Liberia cannot wait
for such a new arrangement. There it is
"Liberia Is Suffering"
The newspaper of record Aftenposten argued (7/23): “The situation in Liberia screams for a
determined military interaction from abroad....
There can hardly be any doubt that the best solution would be if the
Economic Organization of Western African States had shown ability to establish
a large enough force that could move into Liberia.... George W. Bush hesitates as long as possible
to engage the U.S. militarily in another conflict. It is unfortunate but understandable thinking
about the USA’s current engagement in Iraq and the fiasco in Somalia ten years
ago. The second best solution would
therefore be a clear American promise about full support to a Western African
SWEDEN: "Do Not Leave Liberia To Its Fate"
The independent, liberal
morning Dagens Nyheter editorialized (7/23): "The world's
only superpower hesitates whether or not to send troops to Liberia. Whether or not this is in the U.S. interest.
To both questions the answer should be yes....
A U.S. decision to send troops to Liberia would greatly boost U.S.
credibility in the continent.... A
military intervention in defense of Monrovia would be a much desired message
that U.S. foreign policy is not only based on self-interest. In addition President Bush's prestige in the
UN would increase.... Liberian President Charles Taylor, indicted for war
crimes by the UN, is the crook in this drama. But as long as the U.S.
hesitates, there is a risk that he clings to his power and thereby contributes
to continued fighting. A ceasefire is a must for a peace agreement, and this
can only be enforced by the use of military force. The sooner this happens, the
"While Taylor Is Packing His Suitcases"
The conservative Stockholm morning Svenska
Dagbladet ran an editorial stating (7/23):
"Now it is convenient to call for U.S. troops; shocking images from
the Liberian civil war has brought about the judgment that the U.S. should
create law and order in yet another country....
However, the U.S. has every reason to wait for an appeal from the UN
Security Council. Liberia is not of
strategic importance and the U.S. has enough problems in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is not in the U.S. interest to send soldiers to die in Liberia before there
are political conditions for a peaceful development in the country.... It would be another matter if the U.S. has to
intervene because of continued attacks against its Embassy or if Ecowa fails
and the UN can unite on a mandate. Then the British intervention in Sierra
Leone three years ago, which stopped a bloody conflict and paved the way for
the UN, can serve as a model."
EGYPT: “Liberia, Iraq And
Hazem Abdel Rahman wrote in leading, pro-government Al Ahram
(7/30): “Crushing battles are occurring
in Liberia and more than a thousand people have died, dozens of thousands have
been displaced.... The people bear
banners calling for the U.S.... However,
all this has not convinced the U.S. to intervene.... Certainly...Liberia is not like Iraq which is
close to all the key regions in the world and to countries sensitive for
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
CHINA: "Oil Greases
Wheels Of U.S. Policy"
Chong Zi commented in the official English-language newspaper China
Daily (8/1): “Not having rich oil
reserves, Liberia has been handled by the United States in a different way than
Iraq.... Obviously, the United States is
backing off in Liberia, while it made very clear its eagerness to invade
Iraq.... It seems very clear that the
U.S. administration is reluctant to intervene in Liberia. Their military is
overstretched, and there doesn't appear to be much of a national security stake
there. With no oil to grease their wheels,
they seem quite happy to allow the UN to take lead.”
(MACAU SAR): "Why U.S.
Is So Negative About Liberia"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News observed
(7/26): "The civil war in Liberia
is escalating.... With the repeated urging of UN Secretary-General Annan and
some African countries' leaders, Bush...has finally agreed to station U.S.
troops off the coast of Liberia to assist western Africa with
peacekeeping. However, the White House
stressed that the role of U.S. troops will be limited.... Why is the U.S. so opposed to sending peacekeeping
troops to Liberia? First of all, Liberia
is not very important to U.S. national interests.... Second, the U.S. has already sent 370,000
troops to 139 different countries....
U.S military power is too dispersed.
Third, the U.S. still has lingering fears as a result of the failure of
the Somalia peacekeeping mission ten years ago."
AUSTRALIA: "The Case
For U.S. Troops In Liberia"
An editorial in the national conservative Australian stated
(7/23): “Liberians, who descend from freed American slaves and talk of the U.S.
as 'Big Brother', want Mr Bush to go well beyond what he has already done,
which has been to beef up the U.S. Marine guard around the embassy compound,
and reposition the 4,500 troops of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to the Mediterranean
so they are closer to Liberia.... In the internal U.S. debate about whether to
send troops to Liberia, either unilaterally or as part of a pan-African or
UN-led contingent, the case for intervention is being put, ironically, by many
of the same people who opposed the invasion of Iraq - it seems that, for them,
only countries with no strategic or economic significance to the U.S. present
themselves as candidates for military action.... Preventing the complete
meltdown of sub-Saharan Africa is in the U.S.'s, and everyone's,
interests. Mr. Bush should hear the
pleas of the Liberian people, and send in the Marines.“
Liberia Must Be Saved?"
Leading independent Kompas commented (7/29): “In order to restore stability to Liberia the
U.S. is actually capable of doing something.
The UN and the world community wish that the U.S. would send military
troops there.... But President Bush
finds it difficult to convince the decision-makers that Liberia is important
for military intervention...which would not only be able to save thousands of
lives, but also maintain stability in West Africa, and at the same time prove
that U.S. commitment in Africa is real.”
"Situation In Liberia Worsens, Victims Falling"
Leading independent Kompas commented
(7/23): “The role of the U.S. is expected to resolve the civil war in the
country that was founded by ex-slaves from Africa that had been liberated by
the U.S. On the other hand, the U.S.
expects the Western Africa Economic Community to lead the mission to end the
civil war. Thus far, the U.S. has
indicated that it will send some 4,500 peacekeeping troops after President
Taylor is gone into exile. But Taylor
said he will step down only after the troops come. The Taylor leadership will indeed end
"Support African Peacekeeping Force”
The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative,
English language Bangkok Post read (7/27): “Liberians, and many others, have been hoping
that the United States would also send troops to keep the peace.… But in recent
days the signals coming out of Washington have been mixed.... With the announcement coming out of Senegal
that Ecowas forces are on their way, it may be that President Bush will soon
announce the deployment of some number of American troops to back up the West
African contingent. With the current
situation in Iraq, it is easy to see why Bush might not want to risk casualties
in another part of the world. But there
are reasons, not least the overwhelming goodwill of Liberians toward the U.S.,
to think that a moderate U.S. force could quickly stabilize the
situation.... But clearly...what is
needed in the long run to smother the ethnic and factional conflagrations which
have long been endemic on the African continent is a standing army made up of
disciplined, well-trained and well-equipped African peacekeepers, ready to be
deployed with sufficient strength into hotspots before they get out of hand.”
The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer declared (7/30): "Now that the rebels of Liberians United
for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) have rejected the U.S. call to pull out
of Monrovia to facilitate the deployment of peace-keeping forces, it is
incumbent upon the UN to lead the international effort to restore order in
Liberia.... Strangely, the U.S., which
acted with breath-taking alacrity in the case of Iraq, has so far evinced
extreme reluctance to stop the raging civil war in the African country which
has claimed at least 1,000 civilian lives in the last few weeks alone.... President Bush, who recently sanctioned $100
million and $500 million respectively for fighting AIDS and terrorism while on
a tour of Africa, remains non-committal on the question of sending U.S. marines
to Liberia, doubtless owing to his government's current preoccupation with
Iraq.... UN Secretary General Annan has,
in the recent past, expressed repeated concern over the civil war in Liberia.
It is time this concern translated into some definitive measures to restore
CANADA: "Share The Burden"
The conservative National Post opined (8/1): "Two thousand
U.S. Marines and three U.S. naval ships are now en route to West Africa. This
sequence of events typifies the international community's standard operating
procedure when it comes to humanitarian emergencies. It waits for the United
States to agree to do the heavy lifting, and then parcels out the less onerous
tasks. But U.S. manpower, capital and political will have limits. Washington
cannot be expected to bear the burden of intervention during every crisis. What
the world needs is what international relations theorists call 'burden
sharing.' Responsibility for global public goods -- such as international
stability, or the care and feeding of refugees -- must be be carried by a
coalition of wealthy, Western states.... Today's burden shirking may exact a
high price tomorrow. Isolationism always has a significant constituency in the
United States. And if ordinary Americans gets the sense that their country's
goodwill is being exploited by other nations, they will retreat from trouble
spots like sub-Saharan Africa and the Balkans entirely -- emerging only to
fight wars that suit Washington's self-interest. The better strategy is for
Europe and Canada to ante up now, before it's too late."
"Bush Must Not Fail To Pick Up The
Challenge Of Liberia"
The left-of-center Vancouver Sun
commented (7/23): "There are good
arguments against Americans being the first on the ground to try to halt the
war, and equally good ones for it to intervene.
But the tone coming from the White House on Liberia is one of dither and
indecision. The U.S. and Liberia have
strong historic links. The country was
established in the 1840s as a homeland for freed American slaves.... While the U.S. may have no direct and
contemporary interest in Liberia, that presents President Bush with an
opportunity. Critics say the U.S. is
only using its pre-eminent military power in its own self-interest; Liberia
could prove that's not so. The U.S.
could show it's willing to shoulder responsibilities shirked by the UN. It may be the most practical strategy is for
a West African force supported by the U.S.
But president Bush does no favor for either himself or his country by
failing to pick up this challenge."
"World Powers Watch Drama With Cowardice And Reticence"
Giles Lapouge commented in center-right O Estado
de Sao Paulo (7/24): "Those who
are currently dying and killing under the rule of a bloodthirsty leader,
Charles Taylor, descend from American blacks.... This ongoing war has destroyed all
dignity. Monrovia looks like many other
African capitals devastated by political turmoil.... And the world just says 'poor people' and
refuses to get involved. We can
understand the reticence and the cowardice of the world powers. Liberia is not the only suffering nation in
the region. Tribal hatred, wild ideologies
and poverty are destroying the entire Guinea Gulf.... Many Europeans reacted with hostility and
indignation when the U.S. attacked Iraq.
Today, these same Europeans--who vehemently opposed the intervention in
Iraq--have deplored the fact that the U.S. is insensitively watching the
worsening of another crisis. This is
irrational. But maybe not totally
"Is Liberia Located In (A) Firestone (Property)?"
José Steinsleger charged in left-of-center La
Jornada (7/30): “The representative [victim] nations of the colonial
globalization paradigm that began in the 15th Century, and was launched again
by the United States with the invasion on Iraq and Afghanistan, are Liberia and
Sierra Leone.… Liberia is better off than Sierra Leone – its life expectancy is
48 years, it has the sixth position in infant mortality..., it has a per-capita
GDP of 0.36 dollars a day, finally it has 200,000 dead or mutilated people as a
consequence of civil wars that have no end in this country of 3,300,000 inhabitants. The Liberian armed forces are composed of
orphan boys who are trained using terrifying practices. Why is the
international community silent on humanitarian intervention? The answer is easy: Liberia is not Iraq. Rather there is no oil in Liberia.”
"No To Forgotten Wars"
Government-owned, editorially independent La
Nacion judged (7/28): "About a
thousand people have been murdered this week in Liberia in the brutal
resumption of a civil war that began 14 years ago.... It is essential to advocate the
reestablishment of those mechanisms agreed upon by international organization
to prevent conflicts. Rule of law must
be an effective tool to preserve peace.
The fight for the noble cause of human rights needs more credibility and
an increased sense of political decency.
It is unacceptable to associate 'forgotten wars' with poor nations and
therefore place their inhabitants in the lower strata of humankind. This is a blatant insult to the conscience of
"Intervention In Liberia"
Leading-circulation, popular La Tercera
contended (7/23): "The U.S.
government has been reluctant...to send troops to pacify and establish social
and political order in the northwestern African nation.... Washington only reacted and deployed 41 marines
when its embassy in Monrovia was attacked.
This reaffirms what President Bush himself said, that the U.S. is
willing to send soldiers only when it sees 'its interests' are at stake.... It is obvious that as terrible as this civil
war might be, it is not among U.S. priorities.... There is also the lingering memory of the
unsuccessful intervention in Somalia....
It is therefore unlikely that Bush will get a 'green light' to repeat
the same experience. But Liberia can
afford neither a short-term solution nor becoming another forgotten war in
Africa, as was the case with Sierra Leone and still is the case in Somalia and
"Liberia Claims Justice"
Top national El Tiempo opined (7/27): "There are small countries, almost
unknown on an oribital level, that are generally poor, miniscule points in the
world. One only knows of them generally
and the global community does not always worry about them--when nature punishes
them or the human dramas overflow them.
Many [of them are] in the surly and unfathomable [African
continent]. Liberia is one of them
today.... It is a prominent, painful,
[and] prolonged tragedy. A true humanitarian
catastrophe that the population bears....
The only light is big daddy, the United States, which is accustomed to
neglecting its colonies like Liberia, [which must hear] the deafening screams
of help [before it] starts to think of sending peace-keeping troops. I hope they land soon and contribute so that
the Liberians can take a break from a tyranical, bloodthirsty government that
seizes power, without considering its people's sacrifice."