International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 1, 2003

August 1, 2003





**  Liberia "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 taken." 


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 Monroe."


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.




SOUTH AFRICA:  "Liberia"


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."

"A 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 much-needed salvation."


NIGERIA:  "The Anglo-American War"


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 peacekeeping."


"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."


"Funny Peacekeeping"


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 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."


"American Hypocrisy"


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."


CAMEROON:  "Liberia:  A Nation Falling Apart"


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!"


COTE D'IVOIRE:  "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."


GHANA:  "Helping 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 administration.”


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.”


UGANDA:  "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 points."


 "How Dare You Kneel Before Bush"


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."




BRITAIN:  "America Helped Ruin Liberia.  Now It Must Help Repair It"


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 Liberia"


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."


"Privatizing Peace"


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 armies."


"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 Liberia"


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 President Bush."


FRANCE:  "Collapse"


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 enter Monrovia.”


"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 will have to act and is resigning itself to do so.”  

GERMANY:  "Liberia Is Calling"


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."


"Going Back?"


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.”


"Going Down"


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 militias.”




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.”


 "Troops For Liberia"


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 UN Intervenes"


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."


AUSTRIA:  "Africa’s 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 Nachrichten (7/25): 

“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 Guys"


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 Hand"


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.”

"Lull In Battle For Monrovia, But Death Toll Rises"

Declan 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 urgent.”


"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 peace force."


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 better."


"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 Taylor”


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 American interests.”




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.“


INDONESIA:  "Why 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 soon.”   


THAILAND:  "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.”




INDIA:  "Liberia's Tragedy" 


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 order."




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."


BRAZIL:  "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 irrational."


MEXICO:  "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.”


CHILE:  "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 good people."


"Intervention In Liberia"


Leading-circulation, popular La Tercera contended (7/23):  "The U.S. government has been 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 Congo."


COLOMBIA:  "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."




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