International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

July 22, 2003

July 22, 2003





**  Global media contend the U.S. has an "historical responsibility" to intervene in Liberia and question Bush's "ambivalent position."


**  Although a U.S.-led peacekeeping mission would symbolize "good intentions," foreign media acknowledged that "Liberia is only the tiniest fragment of Africa."


**  Zimbabwean and Euro media regret Bush's endorsement of Mbeki's "quiet diplomacy." 




Bush 'hesitant' to send U.S. troops to 'into the breach' --  The U.S.' "cautious" approach towards Liberia produced mixed reaction.  Critics found Bush's position "contradictory," saying he was "raising hopes" for Liberians while expecting Americans to "honor his hesitance to send GIs to another risky mission."  Some observers judged that the "world's policeman" was "in danger of overstraining itself."  Others claimed that "a military intervention for human rights' reasons sets a precedent" that could lead many to ask "why doesn't [Bush] do this in Congo, Sudan, or Zimbabwe?"  A Sueddeutsche Zeitung columnist doubted that the "U.S. will seriously support Liberia" now that Bush has returned from Africa.  Advocates of U.S. involvement, however, insisted that Bush cannot "wriggle out of" the U.S.' "indisputable responsibility" to a country founded by freed American slaves."


Aiding Liberia would bolster U.S. image, yet Africa 'needs more than American might' -- Global outlets agreed that a U.S. intervention in war-ravaged Liberia would be a "golden opportunity" to "lift the odium" from the White House that it intervenes "only when its economic interests are at stake."  It would also help "wipe away" U.S. resentment in Muslim Africa.  A U.S. contribution could, as Indonesia's leading independent Kompas suggested, demonstrate that Washington "still has the will to take part in international institutions."  Skeptics concluded that "foreign troops cannot create stable societies by firing guns."  Germany's right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine warned that interventions claim victims and that "nobody should be surprised" if such an event produced "another quasi-protectorate."  In response to Bush's call for Taylor to step down, Nigeria's independent Comet quipped: "Bush ought to know that the elimination or exit of a principal actor is unlikely to signal the end of a conflict."


U.S.' 'bankrupt diplomacy' reverses previous 'hard-line' stance towards Mugabe --  Sharing disappointment, independent Zimbabwean dailies along with London's conservative Daily Telegraph disapproved of Bush's meeting with South African President Mbeki, asserting that Bush "implicitly endorsed the view" that "the resolution of Zimbabwe's problems lies squarely with Zimbabweans."  This left Mugabe free from the "fear of censure."  These editorialists had expected Bush to pressure South Africa to "abandon its ineffective policy of so-called 'quiet-diplomacy'" and take the lead in "demanding that Mugabe step down to pave the way for a transitional government" that would ensure democracy in Zimbabwe. 


EDITOR:  Sandra Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE: This report is based on 67 reports from 30 countries, July 4-22.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Stable Africa Fits U.S. Strategic Interest "


Rupert Cornwall contended in the independent, Durban-based Natal Mercury (7/8):  "For five days at least, the man of war will become a man of peace.  President Bush is coming to Africa this week not to issue ultimatums or to rally U.S. troops....  U.S. peacekeepers in Liberia may be a symbol of U.S. good intentions, but Liberia is the tiniest fragment of Africa.  True, under its new doctrine of forward defense, the U.S. is looking for permanent bases on the continent--but these would be garrisons in the campaign against terror, not the guarantors of some 21st century Marshall Plan for Africa."


"Bush Has A Golden Opportunity"


International affairs editor Peter Fabricius wrote in the liberal Star (7/4):  "The trip is obviously designed to demonstrate that Bush cares for Africa....  Bush is coming under increasing pressure to send U.S. troops into Liberia to restore order....  Journalists and is your chance to put your money where your mouth is.  And indeed this would be golden opportunity for the U.S. to wipe away much of the resentment in Muslim strong Africa about its use of force in Iraq by using that force again in Liberia to save innocent African lives."


KENYA:  "Why Bush Must Build Bridges And Not Walls"


Kanu party owned Kenya Times editorialized (7/11):  “Since he was sworn into office in 2002, Bush has quarreled  with China, Russia, NATO allies, the European Union and North Korea on issues such as international law, missile treaties, international terrorism etc....  Today he arrives in Africa, a continent that figured little in his presidential campaign.  His war in Iraq as well as his rash statements about Zimbabwe have been very unpopular in the minds of the African people.  He also comes at a time when most African nations have been placed on high terrorist alert, finding themselves in between the wars involving U.S. interests and terrorist groups dotted all over the world....  Bush, whose trip to Africa is as brief as any can be, should realize that very few people, least of all Nelson Mandela, think highly of his radical and unilateral approach to delicate matters of international importance....  Mandela has described him as a man who does not think correctly that is also a danger to the world.  With that in mind, it would be prudent for Bush to tread slowly and carefully on African issues including Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe."


NIGERIA:  "Liberia Deserves More Attention"


The Lagos-based independent Comet editorialized (7/17):  "The responsibility of doubling as continental leader and sub-regional 'big brother' has, once more, placed the Liberian political crisis on Nigerian shoulder.  Apart from providing asylum for Charles Taylor, playing host to many Liberian refugees, Nigeria has once again, dispatched 2,000 soldiers to lead other contingents in bringing an end to the two decades of nightmare in Liberia....  Humanity through international organizations and the world super powers, has not given the Liberian crisis the attention it deserves.  It is against this background that we call on the UN, the United States, AU, ECOWAS and the rest of mankind to contribute honestly towards an enduring solution to the Liberian crisis.  In short, Nigeria's age-long sacrifice in Liberia must be appreciated by the contribution of other states, financially, materially and militarily."


"Taylor Should Go Elsewhere"


Ibadan-based independent Nigerian Tribune remarked (7/17):  "President Taylor has been indicted for war crimes.  And there are many people in West Africa who believe that exile is not a condign punishment for what they say are the atrocious crimes of Taylor.  The hands of many Sierra Leoneans were chopped off by rebels supported by Taylor.  Many people even assert that the RUF was his creation.  Liberia has been a sad, broken country since 1989 when he launched his insurgency.  Thousands of Liberians have been killed.  Many foreigners, including two Nigerian journalists, were killed in cold blood when Taylor's fighters were prevented from capturing the Executive Mansion by ECOMOG in 1990.  Is that the kind of person Nigerians should be harboring?... Liberia, tormented for so long, needs peace.  May the exist of Taylor bring the country exhilarating political calm. But he should please, go and waste elsewhere."


"Matters Arising"


Lagos-based Daily Independent editorialized (7/17):  "It is obvious that while ordinary Liberians want the intervention of external forces to bring back peace to the country, their president may not be so readily disposed to the idea, unless these forces are first subjected to the control of his troops....  These are unsettling signals which ECOWAS and the UN must address before authorizing troops deployment to Liberia.  Daily Independent expects these issues clearly ironed out, along with the  question of the role of the rebel groups in a post-Taylor era, before troops are flown to Monrovia.  Otherwise, we may end up with a new war zone in which foreign troops are enmeshed in a fierce multi-front struggle against government forces and disparate rebel groups."


"Total Opposition"


Lagos based independent The Guardian opined (7/14): "We would like to state our total opposition to your plan to further militarize Africa by setting up new military bases in Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe and Kenya as well as expanding American military presence in Djibouti....  This massive military deployment is to protect oil fields in the Niger Delta of Nigeria."


"Doubtful Elections"


Lagos-based independent Daily Independent commented (7/9):  "Only two weeks ago the European Parliament again 'deplored' the elections and said the April elections were 'marred by fraud.'  The U.S. government has congratulated Obasanjo on his victory without adding 'as announced by INEC,' giving the impression that all was well with the  process....  Coming to the country at this time is most inauspicious thing to do.  I only hope that Mr. Bush will use his influence to help explain that in Nigeria, the process is as important as the outcome and the individuals that emerge from it, that way maybe we can still salvage some bit of our international standing."


"Taylor Exit Unlikely To End War"


The Lagos-based independent Comet editorialized (7/8): "President George W. Bush has asked embattled Charles Taylor, President of Liberia, to step down and leave his coutry without any further ado....  Mr. Bush ought to know that the elimination or exit of a principal actor is unlikely to signal the end of a conflict."


UGANDA:  "Reading Between Bush's Lines On Congo And The Sudan"


Independent Monitor opined (7/16):  "What left scribes reading between the lines as president George W. Bush spoke after brief talks with President Yoweri Museveni was the remark: 'You [President Museveni] have done an excellent job of using your prestige and your [Central African] position to help resolve those disputes.  And we will continue to work with you to bring peace on the continent.'  President Museveni is involved with peace efforts in the Sudan and Burundi and is a signatory to regional accords to end the Congo conflict.  But he is also high on the list of contributing factors to the Congo conflict where UN reports on the DRC have not flattered his country's role.  No doubt praising Museveni for ending regional wars was quite a statement, but was there a tinge of subtlety too in Bush's statements?  If Bush is truly worried about Africa's troubled states turning into breeding grounds like the analysts say, it seems unlikely that he will entertain anything that stands in the way of securing these Central African states.  Perhaps there was more in that diplomatic gloss after all.


"Let's Stand With Bush's America"


Onapito Ekomoloit held in government-controlled New Vision (Internet version) (7/11):  "Africans too have become innocent and unsuspecting victims [of terrorism].  Sometimes, using the oil money, the terrorists have hoodwinked our own people into the so-called religious war against American infidels.  The result has been the likes of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF), whose terrorism Kampalans saw live with blood and tears.  That is why when President Bush speaks about terrorism...we should know it is about our own very survival.  If the terrorists want to hurt us for ostensibly embracing American values--as if they offer anything better--it is reason enough to stand with Americans....  The argument that Bush is here to prop Museveni's stay in power does not fly.  When President Museveni binds our country to the American fight against terrorism, it is for our common good.  The point is, if terrorists blew up an office complex in Kampala--like they did in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam--it is unlikely that Bush or Museveni would be inside."


"Which Museveni Will Bush Meet; The NGO Leader, Or President?"


The independent Monitor opined (7/9):  "Is there a possibility that the U.S. is changing its practice of canoodling with strongmen as long as they are pro-Washington?  The U.S. might be shifting, even if it is doing so to protect its changing global interests.  We have seen very acrimonious verbal skirmishing between U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and the autocratic Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.  The Americans are piling pressure on South Africa to lean on Mugabe, who’s wrecked his once prosperous nation, to go back to the village and grow maize on the land he has grabbed....  Bush demanded more forthrightly that Liberia’s warlord President Charles Taylor relinquishes power and 'go into exile'....  The U.S. can afford to tell Mugabe and Taylor to go home, and to wag a finger at Museveni over his third term plot, because the price of doing so has fallen dramatically.  The fear past U.S. administrations used to have that a leader who was unhappy with them would run into the embrace of the communist bloc, is of course long gone....  Museveni needs to lay indisputable claim to being a political reformer, and regional peace builder the way he has with AIDS.  By failing to win on these two fronts, and clinging only to his anti-AIDS/HIV thing, Museveni has allowed himself to become more like the head of a big NGO, than the president of a nation.  He only invites people--including the Americans--to lean on him to open up the job for someone who can fill the vacuum he has created."


ZIMBABWE:  "Liars Like Bush Annihilate Themselves"


Ruling ZANU-PF weekly mouthpiece The People's Voice criticized (7/13):  “Since when (has) Britain and the U.S. started caring for the human rights of Zimbabweans....  The U.S. and Britain waged a war for regime change in Iraq in order to have monopoly over that country’s oil.  Now they are shifting their attention to Zimbabwe, which they would like to rule through pseudo democracy....  The reason being touted to the world in Zimbabwe is that there are human rights violations when infact these two western leaders (President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair) are against black ownership of land....  The calls for regime change in Zimbabwe are aimed at achieving the reversal of the land reform program so that Western individuals and institutions have direct and indirect control of the resource....  Bush and Blair should be reminded that whatever they do, Zimbabwe will always and forever be for Zimbabweans.”


"Time To Set Road Map In Motion"


The pro-government weekly Sunday Mirror opined (7/13):  “U.S.  President George W. Bush left Africa last week after making significantly progressive statements on the resolution of Zimbabwe’s political stalemate.  His endorsement of the African initiative on Zimbabwe was the final confirmation to all those who expected and actually agitated for a more muscular approach to the country’s protracted impasse that only Africans and Zimbabweans in particular were better placed to sort out the country’s challenges....  The country must now put into motion its road map for a transition out of the current impasse without getting obfuscated by academic and irrelevant demands that do not serve the interests of the nations.”


"Zimbabwe: The Messages From The Mbeki/Bush Meeting"


The pro-government weekly Sunday Mirror asked (7/13):  “But, was there a ‘climb’down’ on the part of the U.S., as claimed in some official circles here in Zimbabwe?  No.  There could have been no ‘climb-down’ if there had been no ‘climb-up’ in the first instance.  For, the position of both the U.S. and Britain on the question of Zimbabwe had been stated quite clearly by the American Assistant Secretary of State, William Kansteiner...following the visit to Harare on 5 May, 2003, by the three African Presidents, Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi.  Both expressed confidence in this 'African initiative.'...  So, if there had been a ‘climb-down,’ it was in May, 2003, after which the burden was firmly on Mbeki’s shoulders.  That Bush would so unequivocally re-affirm only a pyrric (sic) victory for those in Zimbabwe who are gloating over what they perceive as another defeat for the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); in reality, it is a major challenge for Mbeki in particular and a loud warning for Harare.”       


"Bush Roadshow Deflates MDC"


The government-controlled weekly Sunday News editorialized (7/13):  "Thank goodness the U.S. overlord did not come to Zimbabwe.  If Mr. Bush had visited us, self-respecting Zimbabweans would have been uncomfortable to shake hands with a man whose hands are dripping with the blood of innocent Iraqis.  Warmongering cowboys, as epitomized by Mr. Bush, often display enormous and self-evident contradictions.  The U.S. leader claims that Zimbabwe is a dictatorship and that the countries he has visited in his roadshow are democracies.  Ask yourself whether Uganda--a country that is virtually a one-party state and has murdered thousands of innocent civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo while plundering that country’s diamonds, cobalt and other resources--ranks higher in the democracy stakes than Zimbabwe.  How is that possible?....  While the Bush administration used its roadshow to peddle the usual anti-Zimbabwe rhetoric, Africa ignored this cheap politicking and actually elected President Mugabe vice-chairman of the African Union at the...summit in Maputo.  In bestowing this post of immense responsibility upon President Mugabe, the continent has sent a bold message to the world that the sovereignty of Africans will not be determined by warmongering Westerners.”


"Read Our Lips: Change Is Around The Corner"


The independent weekly Standard commented (7/13):  “All the signs both at home and on the diplomatic front indicate that change is around the corner....  Given the level to which Zimbabwe has sunk, it makes sense to choose a route that will avoid further damage.  That, in our opinion was the rationale behind President Bush putting his weight behind President Mbeki’s hitherto ineffective diplomatic overtures.  It is clear that Bush and his advisers such as Colin Powell, feel that Mbeki’s ‘soft’ approach to Mugabe is bearing fruit, albeit after such a long and laborious process.  While we might not be privy to what exactly transpired when the two leaders met, it is quite evident that Mbeki must have convinced Bush that indeed change was on the way in Zimbabwe.”


"Let’s Re-examine Ourselves"


The government-controlled weekly Sunday Mail contended (7/13):  “American President Mr. George W. Bush’s five-nation tour of Africa has come and gone....  For Zimbabweans the visit turned out to be more significant than most people would want to admit.  For over two years opposition politicians and so-called civic organizations have performed all sorts of theatrics to demonize President Mugabe and his government.  All these were meant to attract the attention of the British and the Americans, particularly Mr. Bush.  But after Mr. Bush’s visit to Southern Africa, where he all but conceded that President Thabo Mbeki and his colleagues know best how to handle the challenges in this region, notably those in Zimbabwe, we expect to see a change of attitude among those elements that thought otherwise."


"Bush's Statement A Shift In U. S. Policy?"


The government-controlled Chronicle judged (7/11):  "United States President, George W. Bush this week performed a quick climb-down from his earlier anti-Zimbabwe rhetoric, but analysts say he must now match his public statements with practical measures to normalize diplomatic relations with Harare....  But political analysts interviewed yesterday were quick to point out that the government should give it time, as the U.S. President's words might fail to translate into a shift in his country's policy towards Zimbabwe."


"Visit Gives Bush Rude Awakening"


The government-controlled Herald argued (7/11):  "United States President Mr. George W. Bush's image making visit to Africa suffered a major setback when he openly expressed confidence in South African President Mr. Thabo Mbeki's mediation in Zimbabwe.  Mr. Bush's statements were in sharp contrast to his and that of his Secretary of State Mr. Colin Powell's earlier statements urging South Africa to exert more pressure on Zimbabwe to have a transitional arrangement in place....  Mr. Bush's endorsement of Mr. Mbeki as an 'honest broker' in Zimbabwe fell short of admitting that he had been misled about the real situation prevailing in the country....  Cautious of not treading on an unpopular track, Mr. Bush found himself with no option but to back down from his previous hard-line stance towards President Mugabe....  But Mr. Bush's public support for Mbeki's Zimbabwe policy appeared to mark a personal defeat for (Morgan) Tsvangirai (MDC leader), who has criticized the South African leader for 'choosing to be in solidarity with a dictator."


"Where Will Tsvangirai Turn To Now?"


Independent Daily News commented (7/11):  "South African President Thabo Mbeki's words are coming back to haunt us.  The resolution of Zimbabwe's problems lies squarely with Zimbabweans.  United States President George W. Bush implicitly endorsed this view when he met with Mbeki on Wednesday in South Africa....  Where will Tsvangirai turn to now that Bush has embraced Mbeki's position?  In other words, Bush has told Tsvangirai to deal with Mbeki."


"Bush Putting Up A Façade"


Taungana Ndoro surmised in the independent weekly Financial Gazette (7/10):  "It’s folly for Bush to think that he can solve Zimbabwe’s problems via South Africa.  President Thabo Mbeki’s position on that one is very clear - leave Zimbabweans to solve their own problems, period!  The only logical thing for Bush to harangue about is Mugabe’s asylum in South Africa.  Mbeki should simply be persuaded to offer Mugabe asylum just as Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo offered Charles Taylor of Liberia.  If Bush’s visit to Africa was really in earnest, he would have been in Harare today urging talks between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition MDC.  Zimbabwe is drowning in economic debris and all Bush can do to help is watch from a distance and try and push Mbeki to the forefront of maneuvering an amicable settlement for the beleaguered Zimbabweans.  The problem is that there is nothing at stake for the Americans in Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe is not Iraq.  It does not have oil....  Therefore, there is no chance in hell for Zimbabwe to tempt the Americans’ insatiable taste for oil.  We do not have weapons of mass destruction either....  Americans will be Americans.  If their interests are not threatened, then they have no interest in any other venture - not even the Zimbabwe crisis.”


"Bush Must Demand That Mbeki Act On Zimbabwe"


Independent Daily News editorialized (7/9):  “We totally agree with Bush on one count, and that is that regional powerhouse South Africa must abandon its ineffective policy of so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’ and lead the way in pressuring President Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party to abandon ruinous policies that have brought this once prosperous country to its knees.  Bush must not be swayed or blackmailed by the usual cheap accusations of racism or arrogant imperialism by President Mbeki and others...who...are only interested in buying more time for Mugabe and his administration.  [Bush] must take comfort in the knowledge that the majority of ordinary his call that Zimbabwe return to democracy.  We urge Bush to use his immense influence to pressure Mbeki to stop covering up for Mugabe.  Bush must tell Mbeki what all of us have tried to tell the South African leader but in vain.  That is that Mbeki should vigorously lead the Southern African Development Community and the rest of the international community in demanding that Mugabe step down to pave the way for a transitional government that will be tasked with organizing fresh and truly democratic elections in Zimbabwe.”  


"Bush Must Tell Mbeki To Act Decisively On Zimbabwe"


Joseph Whande argued in the independent Daily News (7/8):  “Both George Bush and Thabo Mbeki must be warned not to continue using Zimbabwe as a playground where international norms, laws, human rights and other practices are disregarded at will.  This has to stop and Bush must make it clear to Mbeki that if he does not want to uphold internationally accepted mediation practices, he should leave the Zimbabwean issue to people who would like to resolve the problem....  Bush reminded that the people of Zimbabwe have long lamented how Mbeki is a stumbling block to our own efforts to correct the bad situation in our country....  Apart from Mbeki’s cowardice in confronting Mugabe, what we are seeing is a deliberate policy by South Africa to strengthen their economy at our expense....  The person [Bush] should get tough with is Mbeki.  Make him play his role as responsible regional leader, a role befitting the president of South Africa.”




BRITAIN:  "Why Liberia Is Not Somalia"


Independent weekly Economist argued (7/19):  "At a time when America's forces are sorely stretched, Liberia is surely the last place a wise president should send them.  Such thoughts doubtless occurred to Mr. Bush when he discussed Liberia with Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, this week....  Liberians, by contrast [with Somalis], are possibly the most pro-American people on the planet, and are begging the Americans to come and restore calm to their shattered nation....  The alternative is merely to provide logistical help to the Nigerians, This would be better than nothing, but it would stir awkward memories. The last time Nigerian peacekeepers came to Liberia, in the mid-1990s, they showed an alarming tendency towards organised crime....  Still, an American-led force would be much more likely to bring peace to Liberia, and so to West Africa."


"Bankrupt Diplomacy"


Conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (7/10):  "Mr. Bush's visit to South Africa has proved deeply disappointing, and the reason lies on the host nation's doorstep--Zimbabwe.  Washington has led us to believe that it was taking a stronger line against Robert Mugabe...but after...yesterday, Mr. Bush described the South African president as the 'point man' in the international community's dealings with Zimbabwe.  In other words, Mr. Mugabe can continue to have no fear of censure from his African peers."


"Africa Needs More Than American Might"


Clare Short opined in independent Financial Times (7/8):  "Is Mr. Bush's visit a sign that his administration will take Africa more seriously?  This is difficult to believe given his strong aversion to nation-building.  His first test is the demand for U.S. peacekeepers in Liberia.  And Liberia, founded by American philanthropists for freed slaves and their descendants, is a special U.S. responsibility....  The cynics believe that the main reasons for the Bush administration's interest in Africa are the large deposits of oil in Nigeria and Angola....  The Bush administration is so deeply unilateralist--even when it comes to development efforts in Africa--that I am fearful they will seek to make deals to secure oil interests and fail to back the patient, long-term work required to build effective government and basic services for local people....  What Africa wants to know is whether Mr. Bush has the wisdom and patience to support a united international effort to end conflict and support the building of competent, modern states capable of promoting the locally led development that Africa needs."


FRANCE:  "The U.S. Is Making Headway In Its Involvement In Liberia"


Julia Ficatier commented in Catholic La Croix (7/22):  “During his visit to Africa George W. Bush’s statements regarding Liberia were constantly contradictory.  On the one hand he claimed that the U.S. could not disperse its troops around the world and on the other hand he stressed the fact that he was deeply concerned by the situation in Liberia.  In fact it is only because the Economic Community of West African States and French Foreign Affairs Minister de Villepin put pressure on him that President Bush has begun talking about possible American involvement in an international peace keeping intervention in Liberia.


"President Bush Chooses To Rely On Nigeria"


Julia Ficatier opined in Catholic La Croix (7/11):  "Anglophone Nigeria, which is embedded in Francophone Africa, has become the object of Washington's closest attention.  The explanation lies in one word: oil....  Nigeria is one of the most favored African nations when it comes to Washington, in spite of the complex military relations linking the two countries....  At times, oil-producing Nigeria has become a more-than-cumbersome friend for the U.S.  In spite of this, Washington has asked Nigeria for help in handling the Liberian crisis....  Washington's policy towards this African giant fluctuates with America's interests: Muslim extremism is today part of the entente between Abuja and Washington.  Each side is worried about terrorist groups recruiting young Muslim extremists from Nigeria, hence Washington's interest in Abuja."


"Bush In Africa”


Left-of-center Le Monde editorialized (7/9):  “Since the end of the Cold War the U.S. has largely neglected and forgotten the African continent...which no longer offered any strategic advantage....  Africa suffers among many other things from a lack of governance, hence the interventions from Great Britain and France in the recent past, and maybe tomorrow Washington’s intervention in Liberia....  More than any other, the Bush administration was opposed to a targeted aid program for African nations.  The discovery that terrorist networks were using these 'delinquent’ states everywhere in Africa is what has altered America’s perspective.  In the wake of 9/11, America's presence in Africa will not be a luxury.”


GERMANY:  "Foreign Troops Cannot Create Stable Societies By Firing Guns"


Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau judged (7/16):  “Unless someone begins the process of pacification, Africa will remain a source of political trouble.  Millions of people will try to escape it in the hope of finding a better life.  London, Paris, and Berlin have understood this reality, and now Washington has followed suit.  UN Secretary General Annan was pleased that President Bush said the United States was willing to start a limited campaign.  The case of Liberia underlines what risks and uncertainties come into play in such missions.  Paradoxically, everyone in Liberia - from rebels to President Taylor - welcomes U.S. involvement, a sign of how much chaos reigns....  In the end, foreign troops cannot create stable societies by firing guns.  This task ultimately has to be tackled by the Africans themselves, which can still take a very long time."


"Five Days, Five Countries, Five Mistakes"


Michael Bitala opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (7/14):  “A week ago, many people hoped that the U.S. would increase its engagement in Africa.  President Bush had announced that his country would play an active part in the peace process in Liberia, he pledged assistance in the fight against AIDS and held out the prospect for a decade of close cooperation....  These announcements alone were enough to ease tension in Liberia....  Bush had conveyed in his speech the impression that a U.S. intervention was imminent.  It was assumed that the president would announce the decision during his trip....  Now, after his return home, nobody believes any more that the U.S. will seriously support Liberia....  One has to ask oneself what did Bush really want in Africa; seldom has a visit been so empty of contents.  In three of the five countries he visited, the focus was on the fight against AIDS....  His compassionate words had barely died away, when the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the promised financial aid and approved only two thirds of the funds....  Bush also failed to admonish the South African government for its policy on AIDS and its failed quiet diplomacy strategy concerning Zimbabwe--he even praised the government for it....  Although Uganda has withdrawn from the Congo, it still leads a proxy war there against Rwanda with the help of Congolese militias.  Bush, nevertheless, called on Uganda’s President Musoveni and lauded him as a good statesman.  Nor did Bush voice any criticism of Nigeria’s government although President Obasanjo was recently confirmed in office by means of massive electoral fraud....  The only ones, who can really feel better after Bush’s visit, are the presidents of the five countries he visited.  They can all carry on as before.”


"Election Campaign Overture"


Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf argued (7/11):  "It is still one year before the presidential elections but George W. Bush, who feels well in the White House, is already now seeing to it that he can stay there more than four years....  Even Bush's ambivalent position toward Liberia can be interpreted as an election campaign maneuver.  He raises hopes for vigorous assistance among the people in Liberia, while the people at home will certainly honor his hesitance to send GIs to another risky mission."


"Bush Hesitates, Taylor Plays Tricks"


Michael Bitalla noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/9):  "Again, President Bush called upon Liberia's president and war criminal Taylor to leave the country, but the only thing he otherwise said was that he had a good discussion with African leaders on Liberia, and that a decision on military intervention in Liberia has not yet been made.  Bush's attitude is understandable since Secretary Rumsfeld does not want to send even more soldiers on dangerous international missions.  But this hesitance will strengthen Taylor even more.  Taylor said that, as long as U.S. forces have not arrived, he would not leave the country.  But who else could force him to leave the country?  Taylor obviously feels that his chances to stay in power are on the rise again....  The Americans are now in a fix because of the Liberia problem.  Without a decision, Taylor will not move.  If they reject the mission, the war criminal continues to remain president.  If they approve intervention, they must begin a dangerous and long-lasting operation.  If the U.S. soldiers withdrew after a brief period, there would be no peace in Liberia and then the whole mission would be in vain."


"Beyond Africa"


Malte Lehming suggested in centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin (7/8):  "It is likely that President Bush will send soldiers to Liberia, but he does not feel well.  All parties involved in the civil war advocate a U.S. involvement....  In addition, the French (in the Ivory Coast), and the British (in Sierra Leone) demonstrated how easily pacification successes can be achieved with moderate means in west African trouble spots.  Nevertheless, the U.S. mission would not be very popular.  In conservative circles, humanitarian intervention is considered a luxury, which the country cannot afford in view of the global terrorist danger....  In addition, there is the specter of an historical analogy: Bush Sr. also won a war in Iraq and then the economy collapsed, and he got entangled in Somalia.  Then he lost the elections.  Bush Jr. wants to avoid the mistakes of his father.  But he also wants to do what is necessary.  Sometimes this inner dichotomy is painful."


"The Looted Continent"


Michael Bitalla opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (7/8):  "Charles Taylor is one of the worst African war criminals...and now he is simply stealing away into exile in Nigeria and leaves a totally ruined state....  But Liberia is only a tiny, maybe not even the worst, piece of the horrible puzzle.  In the center we have Congo, which is also in ruins....  The African continent has reached a critical stage, and the destructive activities of looters have reached a preliminary peak....  The rest of the world, tired of the wars, disasters, and diseases in Africa has not shown any interest in the disintegration of the African continent.  But now, when entire regions have collapsed, the international community is wondering what it can do, how the total collapse can be prevented.  As an answer it sends a few forces to the Congo, and maybe to Liberia.  But intervention forces, moral appeals, and speeches on democracy and human rights will be of no use.  Even the U.S. president will not be able to embellish this picture."




Right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine commented (7/4):  "If Charles Taylor were to cease being president of Liberia, nobody would be sorry to see him go....  If the community of nations--by, e.g., dispatching American troops--now contributes to having Taylor removed from office, it should ask itself beforehand what or whom it wishes to see in his place....  If it is not clear whom one is dealing with, every intervention force must be prepared to provide stability for a long period of time--in a country that has been torn by strife for years.  The intervention may even help the Liberians, but after the event nobody should be surprised if the intervention claims victims and another quasi-protectorate is born."


"Trap Liberia"


Torsten Krauel contended in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (7/4):  "In principle, a U.S. intervention in Liberia is only logical....  The intervention would lift the odium from the White House that it intervenes only when its economic interests are at stake.  Practically, however, a military intervention for human rights’ reasons sets a precedent, which can become risky for Bush.  If he saves people for their own sake in Liberia, why does he do this in Congo, Sudan, or Zimbabwe?"


ITALY:  "A Rain of Bombs – A Massacre In Liberia"


Massimo A. Alberizzi noted in centrist Corriere della Sera (7/22):  “The civil population which had previously demonstrated in favor of the Americans and for their immediate deployment, yesterday showed all of its resentment against Washington’s policy: thirty some corpses were laid out in front of the U.S. legation’s door and slogans were chanted....  But the intensification of fighting has provoked a slowdown in the decision-making process in Washington that has not yet given a definitive ‘yes’ to sending its troops.  The U.S. military would supposedly represent the backbone and coordination of an international peacekeeping contingency....  UN Secretary General Kofi Annan appeared on television to make an appeal to all governments, but particularly to the U.S. government: ‘Intervene immediately with a peacekeeping force in order to prevent another massacre, before it’s too late.’”


"Liberia In Chaos, It's Civil War"


Domenico Quirico stated in centrist, influential La Stampa (7/22):  “The United States has granted 40 members of the Navy Special Forces to the hopes of the Liberian population, which is invoking the help of its ‘American brothers.’  The fighting on the streets of Monrovia is raging....  Not even the mortar fire on the U.S. Embassy, where U.S. citizens and journalists took shelter, served to dispel American doubts, which risk getting bogged down in a slaughterhouse that dangerously resembles Somalia.  The city, which has a certain experience with massacres, resembles more and more a monstrous tangle of clashes, looting and atrocities.”


RUSSIA:  "Liberian President Will Go Into Exile"


Boris Volkhonsky commented in reformist business Kommersant (7/8):  "The U.S. will effectively gain full control over the diamond-rich region, and in the absence of President Taylor, the country's new government will inevitably be formed by the rebels.  But only those of them who will swear an oath of allegiance to the Transatlantic master."


AUSTRIA:  "The American Strain"


Gerhard Plott argued in liberal Der Standard (7/16):  “Without a doubt, Liberia’s ruler Charles Taylor is a 'bad guy.'  The tyrant is one of the worst violent dictators in Africa....  Surprisingly enough, it is exactly this criminal who is now getting U.S. President George W. Bush into a dilemma.  Taylor wants to relinquish power in Liberia if the U.S. sends in enough troops to guarantee order in the country after he has stepped down.  This sounds sensible enough, as otherwise a new outbreak of violence and anarchy would be unavoidable in a country torn by long years of civil war.  But for Bush, there is a catch: He wants peace, but he also wants to avoid a long-term mission for U.S. soldiers in the chaos that is West Africa....  Bush’s problem is that he cannot use the defense of U.S. economic interests as an argument: There is nothing to be gotten out of Liberia, and many years will pass until African oilfields outside Nigeria will be economically exploitable for the U.S. The moral aspect of freeing a country from a tyrant does not seem to carry enough weight in Liberia’s case....  What would come after Liberia?  The superpower would have to establish order all over Africa, the problem of North Korea would have to be tackled – the world’s policeman would be working flat-out.  George W. Bush cannot possibly want that.... The U.S., who has troops stationed on every continent, is in danger of overstraining itself – the only superpower in the world seems to have exhausted its limits.  But then maybe the U.S. will realize that it could also safeguard its interests without massive military action, for instance by combating world poverty.  But that would be ‘nation building’, and that is taboo.”


"The Empire Is Reaching Its Limits"


Thomas Vieregge opined in centrist Die Presse (7/16):  “Donald Rumsfeld’s military commitment is in danger of getting out of hand....  All of a sudden, U.S. troops are supposed to sort out conflicts everywhere – even in the African bush, where Washington’s national interests are not in the least at stake.  However, President Bush can hardly wriggle out of a certain historical responsibility in Liberia, given that the country was founded by freed American slaves....  But what if the crisis in Korea will escalate?  What, if military action in another of the world’s trouble spots will become necessary?  Did not Rumsfeld, with utter conviction, set up the doctrine that the U.S. must be capable of waging two wars at the same time?  Well said, for sure.  But the American empire is reaching its limits.  Its capacities, both military and financial, are almost exhausted.  Not even a hyper power can afford to continually pump millions and millions of dollars into its military. The defense expenses are pushing the American budget deficit to record heights.  Especially before an election year like 2004, the American people will have little sympathy for this fact.  Without involving other nations, such sensitive military missions cannot be handled successfully – an insight that might come too late for the Bush administration.”


 "Bush Goes To Africa"


Josef Kirchengast wrote in liberal Der Standard (7/4):  “The U.S. has a historic and moral responsibility for Liberia....  President George W. Bush’s imminent first trip to seen as the first stage of a new, intensive involvement of the U.S. on the black continent.”


IRELAND:  "Crisis in Liberia"


The center-left Irish Times editorialized (7/21):  “The 1,500-strong contingent is supposed to lay the basis for a fully-mandated UN mission once peace has been restored and its success is widely seen as predicated on a U.S. contribution, albeit small, which has been pledged by President Bush in the last few days.  Mr. Bush, however, says he will not send troops until Mr. Taylor goes into exile, while the latter says he will not go until troops arrive....  The dangerous limbo in which Liberia now finds itself is likely to spark further bouts of looting and killings by the uncontrolled, heavily armed, drug-crazed thugs who plague the battered country.  Every step of the peace process has been dogged by delay....  The U.S. has a special relationship with the country which owes its existence to the assisted resettlement of freed slaves in the middle of the 19th century.  Its forces will be warmly received, unlike in Iraq, and its involvement will be seen internationally as an important and welcome signal of willingness to work in a multilateral security framework.  And Mr Taylor's departure after eight years in office will not come a day too soon.  A brutal and corrupt megalomaniac, who has stoked the bloody chaos in his own and neighbouring countries, his immediate exile is his country's only slim hope.”


"The US And Africa"


Center-left Irish Times held (7/10):  "There are fears throughout the continent at the U.S.' heavy-handed unilateralism and that the President's rhetoric of concern masks another, less than benevolent, agenda.  Mr. Bush could dispel some doubts by committing U.S. troops to a UN peacekeeping mission in war-ravaged Liberia, by leaning on the governments of Rwanda and Uganda to end their bloody involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo, by dismantling trade-distorting farm subsidy regimes, and by massively increasing aid.


KOSOVO: "UN, A Castle In The Air"


Avdullah Bytyci noted in pro-LDK, mass-circulation Bota Sot (7/14):  “The U.S. and its allies' war against Saddam Hussein (who possessed WMD) has inevitably raised these questions: What would be the UN role in the global scene in the future?  Will UN be able to intervene in world conflicts, such as the one in Bosnia and Kosovo, or to oust regimes like that of Robert Mugabe?  History has shown that the United Nations is not capable of doing any of those....  With respect to the Liberia conflict, the world is looking to the United States instead of the UN to intervene....  Today the UN is rather like a castle in the air.  Glass palaces in New York are only able to guide resolutions for problems such as AIDS, malaria or child protection, but not conflicts of a higher level.”


NORWAY:  "Bush Meets Reality"


Newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (7/14):  "President Bush would not further promise that Washington would go into the breach for a peacekeeping force to Liberia.  The caution can perhaps be blamed on the...experience the U.S. has had with military interventions, both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.  But at the same time Bush must do something to bring an end to the bloodshed in Liberia if the rest of Africa shall believe his assurances that he is a ‘compassionate conservative,’ and that this will lead to practical assistance and aid. Bush has already done something;...of course it is not enough....  George W. Bush has made headway since he became President.  The Africa trip may have opened his eyes to [the fact] that America’s, and thereby the whole world’s, security is dependent upon the U.S. using its economic power for economic and social development in other places, and not only for high technology defense.”


POLAND:  "Africa Does Not Like Westerns"


Wojciech Jagielski opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (7/9):  "President Bush’s African trip - apart from the mandatory ceremony of expressing emotions and making promises - will differ from that of, for instance, Clinton. It will stir up stronger emotions.  With the exception of Liberia, whose residents have been praying for years for an American military intervention like the one in Afghanistan or Iraq, Bush’s America is disliked in Africa.  African leaders have never been fond of American presidents pontificating about how to implement human rights or the rule of democracy.  Bush’s predecessors would do that in a more subtle way.  Bush doesn’t beat around the bush and is therefore perceived in Africa as arrogant.  Africa has also never agreed to the American military operation in Iraq....  President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa will surely not join President Bush in criticizing President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.  Unlike the American President, Mbeki does not like westerns, but believes in the effective charm of diplomacy, which lets the loser save face and protects the winner from pride....  Mbeki believes that neither sentimental compassion nor pontification, but rather well-understood cooperation with this continent, that will save African countries from the fate of becoming 'failed nations' - breeding ground for terrorists, the fight against whom President Bush sees as the mission of his presidency."


SPAIN:  "Bush's African Tour"


Conservative La Razon editorialized (7/13): "Bush has been crystal-clear in his warnings: the U.S. won't allow any African country  to turn into a shelter for terrorists....  There is reason to believe that Washington is worried about the control of Chad, Guinea and Nigerian oil....  Additionally, the U.S. would obtain a great strategic position if its troops intervened in...Liberia and if it created an operational base that would multiply the U.S. military capacity in a continent where Islamic radicals are winning ground in the midst of confusion and misery."


SWEDEN:  "Demand Democracy In Africa"


Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet editorialized (7/8):  "President Bush's travel to Africa is more important than most people may think....  Africa is an inseparable part of the global network.  Developments in Africa have inevitable effects on the rest of the world...and many of the leaders who President Bush will meet can play important roles to help to bring about solutions of the many existing problems.  President Bush should clearly state what he expects from them....  More countries should copy President Bush's position that economic assistance should be linked to a certain level of democracy.  The best contribution by the U.S. and the West would be opening domestic markets rather than increasing economic assistance and President Bush might take the lead in this regard.  Unfortunately the Liberian crisis likely will overshadow other issues.  In Liberia there are calls for a U.S. peacekeeping force.  Should an intervention have the support of the Liberian people, President Bush should consider such an action since this would be an important effort for Africa's sake."




SAUDI ARABIA:  "Double Standard"


Jeddah's English-language Arab News commented (7/16):  "It cannot be easy being a superpower. You are damned if you do; you are damned if you don't.  Certainly, that is what the Bush administration must feel over international pressure to deploy troops in Liberia.  As it decides what to do, the irony will not have escaped it that many of the voices calling for U.S. troops to go to Liberia are the same ones that opposed U.S. troops going to Iraq.  Nor is a UN resolution apparently necessary; no one seems to think it important any more....  There are double standards at work....  It indicates that, for all the criticism levied against them on Iraq, the world still wants the Americans to play the role of global policeman....  The only way to avoid such double by having a standing international peacekeeping force directly answerable to the UN and ready to spring into action when the UN secretary general orders it....  If American troops are to go, they should only do so as part of a larger multinational force, and sanctioned by the UN, which is what will probably happen because it is what President Bush happens to want as well."


ALGERIA:  "Bush In Africa: One Visit Many Questions"


French-language independent L’Expression stated (7/9):  “Since yesterday, the American President has lived as an alien in a foreign continent.  So what could Africans expect from the United States?  Yesteday, U.S. President G. W. Bush arrived in Dakar and took part in a summit along with eight West African Presidents.  The president of Guinea not only participated in the summit but also took the opportunity to encourage President Bush to lead the efforts of International Forces in Liberia.  Consequently, a team of American experts arrived in Monrovia last Monday; their mission is to evaluate the humanitarian situation and to examine the need for the use of military force....  The American President acknowledged his intention to promote his country’s efforts to provide assistance in the African war against AIDS and the continent’s attempts to accelerate widespread economic development.  He also expressed his enthusiasm to bolster existing cooperation in the fight against terrorism....  Some observers expressed their surprise in seeing Bush focusing on Africa while Iraq, peace in the Middle East, and North Korea, continue to monopolize his foreign agenda.”


TUNISIA:  "Bush in Africa: Between Saving The Continent’s Interests And The U.S. Ones"


Editor Jamelddine Ben Abdessamad commented in independent French-language weekly Tunis-Hebdo (7/7):  "If President Bush intends to really proceed in Africa, he should ‘stabilize’ the continent as he said in his declaration that peace and security are a priority for Washington.  In principle, this requires another military commitment beside the Afghani and Iraqi one though it is a delicate and very difficult decision to be made by the President himself as the presidential election draws near.  This visit is certainly not meant to help Africa out.  It is because America has not accepted the decision of the EU to intervene directly in some conflicts without referring the decision to NATO or to the American administration.  Hence, the fact of being present in this part of the world has become a necessity to America.  Is it a good choice to try to resolve all the problems of the world together without a deep and open consultation with the concerned countries?  Some politicians see that this American unilateralism will engender frustrations with unforeseeable consequences....  The results of President Bush's visit to Africa could help Africa if the U.S. administration decided to respect its commitments and did not oppose directly or indirectly any other country’s contributions in Africa.”




HONG KONG:  "Liberian Crisis Tests U.S. African Policy"


Pro-PRC Macau Daily News remarked in an editorial (7/16):  "The U.S. administration recently adjusted its Africa policy and is stepping up intervention in the drawn-out Liberian crisis.  Prior to President Bush's Africa trip this month, the White House issued an ultimatum to Liberian President Taylor, urging him to step down within 48 hours.  Now the U.S. is studying the possibility of sending a small force to Liberia to supervise U.N. peacekeeping forces.  It had seemed the U.S. would not hesitate to use force to reestablish stability in Liberia and its neighbors, in the process rebuilding its influence and power in Africa.  African countries had high hopes that the U.S. would send troops to Liberia.  As time passed, however, Bush's tone changed.  When answering questions during his African tour about whether the U.S. would play an active role in managing the Liberian crisis, Bush replied ambiguously, saying, 'We will participate.  We are discussing to what extent we will participate.'  He stressed, 'We will not spread U.S. troops too thin.'  Bush decided that any peacekeeping troops deployed to Liberia should be the responsibility of African nations.  The U.S. will only provide assistance to 'help Africa train peacekeeping troops.'  In other words, the U.S. is not willing to become involved in the Liberian civil war, which is affecting so many countries."


INDONESIA:  "An Opportunity For Bush"


Leading independent Kompas commented (7/7):  “Liberia could become an opportunity for the U.S. to show the world, after its invasion of Iraq, that it still has the will to take part in international institutions such as the UN....  Here a sensitive issues lingers on because the U.S. wants the decision on whether to send forces there to be based fully upon the U.S.’s own assessment...not depending on what other countries think about the U.S....  If Bush’s travel in Africa is only symbolic in nature, it will not be as significant.”


JAPAN:  "Remote Goal Of Stabilizing Africa"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (7/11):  "President Bush's visit to African nations has brought this subcontinent's long-standing plagues of internal (tribal) conflicts, poverty and epidemics into the limelight again.  Both self-help by the African nations and international assistance are necessary to fight these problems that have been left unresolved.  As if to coincide with the U.S. President's Africa visit, discussions are under way at the UN and in the U.S. to send U.S. peacekeepers to Liberia, where nearly 200,000 have died in a civil war since 1989....  Neither the U.S. nor the rest of the world community has been eager to send peacekeepers to deal with conflicts that have been continuing in more than 10 African nations.  The United Nations Development Program has been fighting an uphill battle against rampant African poverty.  Advanced nations need to extend economic assistance to African nations, while opening their doors further to African exports."


PHILIPPINES:  "Too Reliant On U.S. Military Prowess"


Alex Magno commented in the independent Philippine Star (7/17):  “There is no disagreement over the necessity of sending in an international security force to end the bloodshed in a country that failed.  But no one else wants to commit troops and underwrite the costs of pacifying a country that might not be worth the expense.  And so George W. Bush…now reluctantly decides to intervene.  That decision is compelled by obvious humanitarian considerations....  Even as he does so, the Coalition of the Willing does not seem to be behind him in this lonely chore.  This is not part of the campaign against international terror.  All this involves is the woefully unromantic job of cleaning up a place littered by internecine warfare in a society with too many guns but too little food to go around....  It might seem odd to denounce Bush’s decision to go into Liberia as yet another instance of ‘U.S. imperialist intervention.'  But one does not know the depths of illogic that the passionately anti-American peaceniks are capable of plumbing....  Maybe this time around, with the humanitarian issues too glaringly clear, the peaceniks should instead direct their noisy marches at those democratic and humane powers that refuse to budge in the face of calamity.  The burden of rescuing societies that fail ought not to be borne by the U.S. alone.  The world has become too reliant on the military prowess of the U.S. - a military prowess that is condemned when deployed but sorely missed when kept at home.”


"Indispensable Nation"


Foreign Affairs Secretary Blas Ople observed in the independent Manila Bulletin (7/9):  “Considering all the challenges to the U.S. arising from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as North Korea, the international clamor for the U.S. to intervene in Liberia...may be the last increment of U.S. patience wearing thin....  But I guess President Bush has no choice....  The need to face the challenge of the tragedy in Africa, a humanitarian catastrophe unprecedented in history, simply confirms the belief expressed by some political scholars that America has become the ‘indispensable nation'....  While the Philippines and ASEAN diplomacy are fully supportive of Africa in the United Nations, it will take the U.S. as the ‘indispensable nation’ to mobilize global support for peace and development in Africa.”


THAILAND:  "U.S. Ready To Flex Muscles In Africa"


Rachan Husen argued in conservative Siam Rath (7/4):  “Looking at Cowboy Bush’s July 2 statement that 'President Taylor must step down’, one can assume that the U.S. will certainly invade Liberia should the current situation does not improve in the next few days....  It also looks like the U.S. will go it alone to show its might....  U.S. deployment of troops to Liberia to ‘put things in order’ would be tantamount to returning Liberians to slavery....  The best option would be to send in international peacekeeping troops.  Otherwise, Liberia would be another example of U.S. violation of international charters on the pretext of legitimacy.”




PAKISTAN: "Peacekeeping in Liberia"


The Karachi-based center-left independent national English-language Dawn held (7/8):  "Both sides in Liberia say they would welcome a U.S.-led force.  Faced with such unanimity, the Bush administration should strongly consider acting....  Even a small and short-term U.S. deployment could do a disproportionate amount of good....  Without foreign intervention, renewed warfare and a humanitarian catastrophe appear likely--and any intervention will be far less likely to succeed without American troops.  At a time when many people around the world are questioning U.S. foreign policy, Liberia offers an opportunity for the United States to show that it is still prepared to use its power for more than narrow self-daffiness."




CANADA: "A Catalogue Of What Ails Africa"


Mario Roy wrote in centrist French-language La Presse (7/5):  "Large demonstrations have occurred in front of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia...where people held up signs saying ‘U.S., help us!’...  Over the past decades, the Americans have grown accustomed to being told to solve everything but not to get involved anywhere.  This time they have the indisputable duty to intervene on behalf of a population that came in part from their midst."


"Who Will Save Liberia?"


The conservative National Post opined (7/5):  "The West can help stabilize Liberia and other African trouble spots....  But given that foreign troops will likely be called upon to keep the peace in Liberia for years to come...the bulk of the force should come from the United Nations, other Western nations, and Nigeria and South Africa....  Mr. Bush should make clear that he is willing to help jump-start the region's attempted rehabilitation.  But he should also leave no doubt that neither his country--nor any other--can make Liberia's problems go away overnight."


ARGENTINA:  "Security And Business In Bush's Key Tour Of Africa"


Paula Lugones argued in leading independent Clarin (7/7):  "Today, President Bush kicks off a tour of Africa that promises to be very controversial....  The tour was carefully designed: Bush will avoid the most controversial spots and will highlight 'success' stories.  This is why he'll go to Senegal (which has a democratic tradition), South Africa (the biggest U.S. trade partner in Africa), Uganda (that managed to control aids with certain success) and Nigeria (that has set aside coups.)...  He will therefore avoid Liberia, for example, a country that for the past few weeks has been in the loop because its president, Charles Taylor, was prompted by the U.S. to leave power in order to appease its ongoing civil war. Taylor resisted the measure, but finally accepted Nigerian President Obasanjo's offer of political asylum.  He didn't specify when and where he'll bow out, but at least, it was a gesture aimed at removing a heavy obstacle from Bush's tour."


"White Man's 'Mission'"


Claudio Uriarte held in leftist Pagina 12 (7/6):  "Is President Bush's new target (Liberia and Africa in general) a new weapon of mass destruction, regarding the poor state of the economy, or does it effectively mark a new strategic re-orientation?...  Given the presence of terrorism in Africa, Bush's election advisors suggested he toughen his stance on Liberia....  So now, winds of a possible U.S. intervention are blowing.  And this intervention will apparently be part of an international intervention that includes Liberia's closest neighbors: Morocco and South Africa.  From the start, it seemed an empty gesture, similar to the poor intervention in Somalia and other 'humanitarian interventions' of the Clinton era - Haiti and Bosnia.  But we may be at the doors of a staged scenario, with election and propaganda purposes...similar to Bush's inflamed war rhetoric against Iraq.  Given the similarity of the scenario, issues may eventually develop quickly.  And the key question has to do with the role played by South Africa, which will most likely oppose the strengthening of U.S. presence in the region."


MEXICO:  "Liberia, The Orphan"


Adolfo Aguilar Zinser noted in independent Reforma (7/18):  "They sent a 30-strong military reconnaissance team a few days ago to Liberia.  They were greeted with cheers by Liberians--something the Americans are not used to....  The Liberians have long been considered as U.S. stepchildren, but in reality they are orphans because U.S. policy towards that country has changed constantly....  Nevertheless, the Liberians pin their hopes on the U.S.  The United States fears that a situation similar to Somalia could evolve in Liberia over the long run.  Consequently, one condition for participating in a peace-keeping force is a genuine commitment by all parties in the conflict to a ceasefire as well as reaching political agreement for a transition government....  The issue of Liberian President Taylor's immunity is yet another problem to be resolved.  In any event, it is still unclear if the international community, the U.S., and the Liberian actors have the long-range vision to begin the country's reconstruction, to provide for the basic needs of the Liberian people and to establish sound political structures leading to free and democratic elections."


ECUADOR: “Yankee Come Home!”


Carlos Alberto Montaner opined in leading centrist El Comercio (7/13):  "World public opinion was not ready to watch large groups of protesters urging U.S. military intervention in Liberia to end the civil war affecting that country.  They weren’t requesting UN, NATO, Russian or European troops or troops from the African Union.  They wanted the Yankees, why?...because it is evident that the U.S. has the military power and the economic capacity to separate the warring sides, reestablish order, organize the bureaucracy and jump start the country.  It remains to be seen if in this case (the U.S.) has the will to do it....  The U.S., especially after September 11, feels a pressing need for leadership....  The U.S. has not only extraordinary power, but its citizens do not have any problem in using it.  Which leads us to the acceptance of a very uncomfortable point for the many anti-American groups populating the universe:  nations or groups facing conflicts expect relief and assistance to mitigate their woes from only that country (not from any other)....  In reality, this asymmetry is not an advantage but a terrible and costly responsibility.  The position of Brazil, a territorial giant the size of the U.S. or Japan, the second economy of the planet is much more comfortable because it is not seen as a factor for international stabilization or pacification.”







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