July 04, 2003


James Morrow writes in The Australian on a president who is actually doing something about Africa:

Fortunately, for the millions of people who call Africa home (to say nothing of the White House intern pool), the present US president doesn't live up to the reputation of his predecessor. Instead, at this moment, Bush is packing for a five-nation tour of Africa, six weeks after signing legislation to triple American funding to combat and treat AIDS on that continent.

Sounds terribly unilateral, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, former foes of unilateralism are demanding a unilateral US response to trouble in Liberia:

Some of the most vocal opponents of the use of U.S. military force against Saddam Hussein are now practically ordering Washington to dispatch 2,000 Marines to impose peace on the violence-wracked African nation of Liberia.

Chief among them is U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who argues that Washington has a "special responsibility" to take the lead in helping to stabilize the country, which was founded by freed American slaves in 1822.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 4, 2003 05:01 AM

Wait! When we are being commanded to intervene in Liberia, that's not being unilateral, it is being subservient!! Well, that's what they meant all along!! Knock me over with a feather.

Posted by: Ron at July 4, 2003 at 05:48 AM

The proper response:

Liberia is not threatening American national security interests. Pass. Have fun.

Maybe with a PS - "Bite me, Kofi"

Posted by: mojo at July 4, 2003 at 06:39 AM

Wait, don't we need hearings in Congress, first? Congressional approval? Then polling of public opinion. Then, more hearings. Bring back Phil Donahue for a Townhall meeting. A Congressional vote on whether to have a vote. More hearings. Poll public opinion.

Then, UN meetings, Security Council vote, more hearings, world public opinion polls - what do the people in Bourkina Faso believe? Get our allies onboard. Get Mandela's okay.

Whazzit? Oh, the liberals and, let us bow our heads, the world community favors THIS intervention. Never mind. Just drop off the jarheads anytime.


Posted by: SteveMG at July 4, 2003 at 06:57 AM

Hard to argue with "Bite me, Kofi" but it would be good to see someone do something to stop the bloodshed in Africa, or at least staunch the bleeding a little. But the decision to put American lives at risk has to be America's alone.

What the hell does Kofi mean, special responsibility? If America hadn't freed those slaves they wouldn't be in this mess? That can't possibly be what he's saying, but I'm struggling to come up with an interpretation that makes much more sense.

Posted by: Sean E at July 4, 2003 at 07:30 AM

I supported intervention in Iraq. I also support intervention in Liberia, and I do think that we have an obligation to that country. Liberia is basically an American colony, and the colonial relationship runs deeper than it does for say, the French in the Ivory Coast. Many of the people of Liberia are basically Americans.

Posted by: Mac Thomason at July 4, 2003 at 08:17 AM

Yes it should be considered but the US has to pick its battles. They can't just go in everywhere that the UN tells it to. Besides forces are great as striking and destroying a bad government, peacekeeping in a fractured country is a bit more of a pain.

Beside that I dont eally go for this idea of a country having obligations since 1822. It passed the statute of limitations.

Just in africa alone there is zimbabwae congo and the surrounding area, ivory coast and many others that would be candidates for "sorting out".

Posted by: Scottie at July 4, 2003 at 08:44 AM

Nothing that a few billion American tax dollars in reparations for having freed those slave to become a stain on the African continent wouldn't cure.

Send those dollars to the United Nations Guilty Americans Fund For Everything.

Posted by: Brian J. at July 4, 2003 at 10:45 AM

My new sign:


[Do some research on Liberian exports]

Posted by: adam at July 4, 2003 at 11:21 AM

There's only one set of people responsible for the situation in Liberia: Africans. It's not the fault of the West anymore (if indeed it ever was). I'm fed up to the back teeth with the whole bloody lot of 'em.

Posted by: David Gillies at July 4, 2003 at 11:36 AM

Liberia has heart-of-darkness problems but the USA has that "special" connection with it, so we may end up doing something.

Maybe it won't be very large-scale though. There would have to be well-defined & achievable objectives, but what does one do to stop the back-&-forth warring of tribes versus one another & versus the slaves' descendants? What is the US to do effectively without taking strong action that would have folks lining up to drag the US before the ICC? (Some who call for US intervention no doubt hope for just such an outcome.) The previous Liberian President (Doe) was tortured to death by a rival faction leader. Kids run around with Kalishnikovs & grenades. It's a jungle.

Some might wish an "overconfident" USA to go in to receive a comeuppance after Iraq II like Somalia after Iraq I (& to somewhat humble the USA particularly in comparison to the UN & the EU), but W & company are on the ball.

Posted by: ForNow at July 4, 2003 at 12:38 PM

There's a simple solution to this violence. Enslave the Liberians, send them on ships to America and get them picking cotton again. This would make Kofi happy. After all, if they hadn't freed the slaves they wouldn't be in this mess.

Posted by: Mike Hunt at July 4, 2003 at 01:14 PM

Mac -- um, Liberia is not an "American colony." The word "colony" has an actual meaning in political terms. What Liberia is is an independant state. The citizens of that country are not American citizens, and would doubtless resent being considered so. They are Liberians, and there is nothing wrong with that. Whether we help them out or not can be based on a number of factors (that Liberia was founded by freed American slaves and was inspired by American ideals of liberty are good ones), but certainly not on some false analogy of Liberia being some sort of attachment of the US over which we have a responsibility. It's not Guam or Puerto Rico.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 4, 2003 at 03:40 PM

I vote for the Pax Geographica.

Whomever is closer takes the obligation to help war torn/famine sticken/impoverished/rioting third world nations. Liberia is closer to France, Germany and Belgium.

The US needs to focus on the war/torn/famine stricken/impoverished/rioting third world nations in our own backyard.

Posted by: wallace at July 4, 2003 at 04:56 PM


Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 5, 2003 at 03:08 AM

Actually, according to the CIA World Factbook, only about 2 per cent of Liberians are descendents of African-Americans. Calling the country an American colony is silly

Posted by: Carlos at July 5, 2003 at 05:15 AM

Bush's condition that Taylor leave first is the basis for any possible solution in Liberia. So long as he is in Liberia, no intervention short of an invasion will work. Kill or exile Taylor and then we can discuss US options.

Posted by: Ken Hahn at July 5, 2003 at 09:16 AM

I'm a Canadian who thinks that the US should not go to Liberia. Instead, the US should ask those who are making the request "Why don't you shell out the money for your own armed forces to do the job?"
For too long, the Canadian government has handed budget cuts to our forces. Now they can't even handle the useless peacekeeping assignments that the Liberal government loves to brag about. And then they wonder why Canada's voice is more and more ignored on the international scene. All those nations who've cut back on their defense seem to forget that even nice guys with guns are paid more attention than wimps without.

Posted by: RonG at July 5, 2003 at 05:28 PM

Liberia is populated by people who emigrated from America. Thats unique, but not America's problem. The way I see it an unpopular murderous scumbag is going to get instant Democracy. The system is working leave it alone. (France endorced invasion!) Do you really need another reason to say no?

Posted by: James D at July 6, 2003 at 11:28 AM

"Liberia was founded by freed American slaves and was inspired by American ideals of liberty"

Well, not exactly. The land was bought by white slave owners who, faced with a growing population of freed negroes, decided to offer them land and passage "home". When the group ran out of money, it "suggested" to those who had taken the offer that they declare independence. All this was before our Civil War, and abolitionists were against it.
- - - -
So Kofi wants the US to go in, huh? And do what? Guard the local museums? May not be PC to say so, but Afghanistan is a model of stability by comparison. Any nation that goes in to most of Africa is going to have to do so with the expectation of [re-]establishing a colony and starting to build a modern civilization from scratch: not something I would want the US to do. I do wish I could believe something less drastic could work: at one time, North Africa at least was relatively peaceful under a loose trade-association run by a widespread and powerful tribe (Swahili is a polyglot, or pidgin, of their language and Arabic developed for trade [including slaves]), but that was a long time ago.

Posted by: John Anderson, RI USA at July 6, 2003 at 02:25 PM