The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events
July 10, 2003
Community and Liberia
When I first heard that President Dubya was
being urged by the vaunted international community to send U.S. troops
into Liberia, my first thought was "Where the heck is Liberia?"
I discovered it's located on the west coast
of Africa, a smallish country rich in some natural resources. It's also
rich in war and bloodshed. Founded in the 1800s by freed American slaves,
the war started in the 1980s, when Charles Taylor started a violent
campaign against the country's ruler. In 1997, the people elected Taylor
president by a landslide, hoping this would stop the violence. It did not
- former Taylor comrades and long-time enemies started their own
Taylor proved to be a monster - his troops
have committed countless atrocities against the rebels and people and
soldiers of neighboring countries. In fact, earlier this year, a United
Nations-backed court in Sierra Leone indicted Taylor as a war criminal.
The UN and pretty much the whole world want Taylor to resign and turn
himself in. This, they figure, will end the war and peace will reign. I
have my doubts about this. When and if Taylor does go, the rebels will
select their own strongman, who will undoubtedly be as ruthless as Taylor.
More rebel armies will appear, and war will go on.
So why are the same people who opposed U.S.
military intervention in Iraq begging and demanding for U.S. military
intervention in Liberia? Apparently, they feel only the United States
military can impose order and peace. Innocent Liberians are suffering and
dying, and the U.S. must stop it. Of course, innocent Iraqis were
suffering and dying under Saddam Hussein, and the international community
didn't care much about that, so there must be more to it than suffering
and dying, unless Liberian suffering and dying is more important than
Iraqi suffering and dying.
The international community does want
Taylor gone. But sending in U.S. troops before he steps down could have
the opposite effect. President Dubya has said that he will send in troops
only after Taylor is gone. Taylor is no fool, so
he has said he'll go only after U.S. troops arrive, thus ensuring a
safe and orderly transition. This is a lie. Taylor does not want a
transition - he wants U.S. troops to maintain the status quo by
suppressing all violence. With his enemies defeated, Taylor is safer and
more firmly entrenched, and has little reason to resign. In this scenario,
the U.S. military acts as Taylor's bodyguards. President Dubya and his
foreign policy team probably know this, which is why they don't want to
send in the troops until Taylor is history.
Another reason given for U.S. military
intervention is because America has an obligation toward Liberia because
it was founded by freed American slaves a couple hundred years ago. This
is a crock. Only five
percent of Liberians are descended from its original founders - 95
percent of the country is indigenous Africans. America bears no
responsibility for the current state of Liberia - Liberians alone bear
that responsibility. To apply such reasoning elsewhere, Great Britain is
responsible for America, because its citizens originally founded the
country. Spain is responsible for Mexico and virtually all of South
American, Portugal is responsible for Brazil, and Great Britain is also
responsible for Australia. This is not a serious argument.
The fact is, America should intervene in
Liberia only if its security is threatened. I don't see why the U.S.
should care who governs Liberia, provided that person does nothing to
threaten America or American citizens.
But the international community disagrees.
You see, human rights are being violated, both in Liberia and neighboring
countries. Taylor is an indicted criminal and tyrant. He's responsible for
the deaths of thousands of innocent Africans. The international community
believes in human rights, and it follows that it supports any means of
enforcing and protecting human rights. If that means American military
personnel, so be it.
But why didn't the international community
believe that in Iraq? Human rights were being violated. Saddam Hussein was
a war criminal and tyrant. He murdered thousands, if not millions, of
innocents in his own country, not to mention Iran and Kuwait. He tortured
and executed children. If the international community really believes in
human rights, then why did it oppose Saddam's demise? After all, if the
international community had had its way, Saddam would still be in power,
still raping and killing and torturing.
In short, the international community did
not believe that human rights was a justified reason for America to enter
Iraq. Yet it wants America to enter Liberia for the cause of human rights.
Why the inconsistency?
Does the international community believe
Liberians and Africans deserve human rights and Iraqis do not? Does the
international community believe Iraqis do not deserve to be
"imperialized" but Liberians do?
One could be forgiven for concluding that
the international community believes in human rights for some people but
Our favorite liberal columnist for the
Arizona Republic took a brief hiatus and returned on July 3 with a
typically snarky column
calling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia "scary." Pimental
sure does scare easy.
Sunday, he accused President Dubya of calling Iraqis killing American
soldiers "Saddam loyalists." Pimental believes that may not be
accurate, though he admits he doesn't know for sure. These Iraqis may not
miss Saddam but could just hate Americans and want them out of the
country. Pimental apparently does not realize that it doesn't matter what
these Iraqis think about Saddam. Their goal would be the same as Saddam
loyalists - America gone.
Pimental also does not mention that as
Iraqis kill more American soldiers, American soldiers will stay longer. If
they really want U.S. troops to leave, they need to behave and prove they
are capable of governing themselves and acting like civilized human
By the way, add Pimental to the list of
those who believe American
should intervene in Liberia. He opposed the war in Iraq, naturally.
So, Mr. Pimental, why do Liberians deserve human rights and Iraqis don't?