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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer


The Occasional Muse
My humble opinion on current events

July 10, 2003

The International 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 insurgency campaigns.

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 not others.

Pimental Patrol

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.

Last 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 beings. 

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?

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