International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 7, 2003

August 7, 2003





** The arrival of ECOWAS forces brings a "slight hope for peace" but is still "just a first step."


** There will be no lasting peace until Liberia's "first-class gangster" Taylor leaves.


** Despite a Marine presence, critics complain the U.S. is hesitating.


** Though Africa is demonstrating "self-help," it is unlikely to resolve the Liberia crisis alone.




ECOWAS' arrival is 'better late than ever'-- The "belated" arrival of the Nigerian-led peacekeepers in Monrovia generated cautious optimism.  Writers acknowledged this was a "ray of hope" for the "tortured country," but stressed much more would be required to end the chaos.  Editorials in Europe and Asia were relieved that the UNSC had "removed all obstacles" for the intervention force, with optimists judging the ECOWAS initiative "a major breakthrough."  Offering a positive assessment, Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post declared: "Liberia is proof that international pressure works."  European observers, in contrast, found  "reasons to be skeptical."  As a German commentator put it, "more would be necessary than a few forces rounded up from western Africa," stressing "greater western engagement" is vital.


Waiting for 'mass-murderer' Taylor to 'keep his promise' to leave-- Writers worldwide agreed that in order to ensure the chance for a peaceful resolution, President Taylor must resign or "be forced to leave" to face justice.  "No one will miss him," as Brazil's liberal Folha de Sao Paulo averred: "He is a bloodthirsty leader who has harmed not only his country, but also the region."  Yet, with August 11 approaching, pessimists worry that either Taylor won't leave or that another warlord will "take over the helm."  Even if he goes into exile, Germany's right-of-center Die Welt proposed, "it is absolutely clear that a psychopath like Taylor will take advantage of the first opportunity and return to the path of war."  Though African dailies urged Taylor's departure, some shared Kenya's pro-business Standard's concern that even if the U.S. does "half-heartedly flex its muscles" and remove Taylor, "a new band of former bandits will ascend to power."


'Like it or not,' the U.S. 'holds the key' to the fray--  Opponents of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, notably on the left in Europe, Japan and the Western Hemisphere, were in the forefront of those endorsing U.S. intervention in Liberia.  Unimpressed by the deployment of U.S. Marines whose "mission is not yet clear," critics continue to accuse Washington of "foot dragging."  Since "only" the U.S. has the means to convince all sides to end the fighting, the U.S. must become "massively involved."  Spain's center-left El Pais called Liberia a "blinding case of moral imperative."  Noting that failing states were "hotbeds of terrorism," Belgium's independent De Standard argued that "peace in Liberia would enhance stability in the entire turbulent region."  African dailies meanwhile warned that crying for help from the West would add to the "deeply disturbing dependency syndrome" on the continent.


EDITOR:  Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 43 reports from 23 countries, August 2-8.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed form the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "America Will Not Free Liberia From Chaos"


In the independent Financial Times Quentin Peel commented (8/5):  "Mr. Taylor has been as evil and destabilizing as Saddam Hussein has been in the Gulf.  But it is scarcely surprising that that does not figure with this U.S. administration.  There is no national interest at stake.  Even Colin Powell, secretary of state, who has argued for U.S. intervention, admits he cannot see a vital strategic interest.  Just as it is on most foreign policy issues, Washington has been hopelessly split on intervention in Liberia. With casualties rising in Iraq, the Pentagon has been strongly opposed.  The result has been 'endless dithering'....  But Mr. Bush does not seem to want to know.  His trip to the continent played well back in the United States, which is no doubt what was intended.  But unless he makes a long-term commitment to Liberia, he will not have many friends in Africa to visit next time."


FRANCE:  “A Changed Political Context”


Stephen Smith in left-of-center Le Monde (8/6): “A direct involvement of the U.S., with troops on the ground, would be more significant on a geopolitical than on a humanitarian scale.  In the new post 9/11 anti-terrorist world order, the American administration would thereby acknowledge the threat posed when Africa is left to sort out its own problems.”


 "A Ray Of Hope In Liberia"


The unsigned editorial in economic right-of-center Les Echos (8/5):  “Washington has promised logistical assistance but remains undecided as to the deployment of the marines on board the ships that are on their way to Liberia. By providing the intervention of the international forces in Liberia with a legal framework, the UN resolution voted last Friday allows the U.S. not to become directly involved despite the calls for intervention from the Liberian people who are historically bound to the U.S., like the British in Sierra Leone and the French in the Ivory Coast.”


"State of Emergency"


Dominique Quinio in Catholic La Croix (8/4): “The West African states have been mobilized, and many had hoped that in the name of its historic responsibility to Liberia, the U.S. would become involved.… But George W. Bush is busy on other fronts.  In the past he has been less scrupulous about obeying the rules of international legality, today he considers that the conditions for American intervention, even in the form of a ‘humanitarian mission’ are not adequate.” 


"Strange American Powerlessness"


Patrick Girard in left-of-center weekly news magazine Marianne (8/4): “The U.S. admits that it is powerless with regard to the tragedy in Liberia. The Bush administration is content with merely sending ships off the coast of Monrovia and asking for a cease-fire. It is not ready to intervene as it did in Iraq. And yet, relatively speaking, weapons of mass destruction abound in this part of the Gulf of Guinea. And in terms of violating Human Rights, Charles Taylor has no lessons to learn from Saddam Hussein. It is all a matter of priorities.”


GERMANY:  "Liberia"


Thomas Knemeyer judged in an editorial in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/6):  "If the problem were to end the killing of innocent people in Liberia's capital Monrovia, the 600-strong peacekeeping force from Nigeria, let alone the thousands of marines…would be enough….  But much more is involved in Liberia and that is why Senator Warner warned against a mission in the western African country.  A brief military peacekeeping mission would not contribute to a better future of Liberia….  Stamina would be necessary….  Of course, we must welcome relative peace in the country to alleviate the misery of the people.  But of what use will it be if President Taylor steps down…and goes into exile to Nigeria?  It is absolutely clear that a psychopath like Taylor will take advantage of the first opportunity and return to the path of war.  Not only Taylor, but also the leaders of the diverse rebel organizations, which have terrorized the country for more than 14 years, should never have any chance to get at the helm.  If the United States is serious, it must assume the role of the leader.  And mass murderer Taylor must be put on trial, as is provided for in an international arrest warrant."


"Alarm For Africa's Despots"


Maritta Tkalec had this to say in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (8/6):  "Never before dared African leaders to chase one of them out of office....  The fact that a great number of African states found an understanding among themselves, and included the UN in their decision-making process in order to remove one of the worst leaders of their continent, is something new….  The break with this principle…corresponds with the intentions of the new African development plan, NEPAD.  The highest form of criticism is now being executed toward Charles Taylor, the despot from Liberia.  He promised to go into exile next week, and accusations of being a war criminal have not yet been dropped.  In Africa, there are still some other leaders who watch developments in Liberia with great concern like for instance, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.  Even in Africa, it is getting increasingly dangerous to rob the people."


"To End The Chaos"


J. Baumeister commented on regional radio station RBB 99.8 of Berlin (8/5): "In order to end the chaos in Liberia, more would be necessary than a few forces round up from western Africa.  Liberia needs a new infrastructure, a new moral, an independent and unburdened transition government, free elections, and integration programs for children.  This is probably more expensive than the 100 million dollars provided thus far.  And it is likely that it will require greater western engagement, among the Americans in particular.  The suspicion comes up that George W. Bush hesitates to send force because the issue in Liberia is neither the fight against terrorism nor oil.  There is no doubt that a mission in Liberia is dangerous, mainly for western soldiers.  But not enough to say that the Africans will resolve this problems on their own. Liberia now mainly needs international solidarity and hope."


"Deserving Support"


R. Zeppenfeld commented on ARD-TV's (national channel one) late evening newscast Tagesthemen (8/4):  “The United States could have ended the problems in Liberia many weeks ago...but a superpower’s actions are not necessarily guided by ethical considerations....  Of course, Africa cannot permanently ask the western world for help, but that is the only solution the people in Liberia could think of....  Now the troops from neighboring countries have arrived, and they deserve every bit of support.”


"Fine Print"


Center-right Westfaelische Rundschau of Dortmund stated (8/4):  “Charles Taylor has announced his resignation, and the rebels have agreed  to leave Monrovia, but it remains uncertain whether any of this is going to happen....  The UN resolution on Liberia contains more than one flaw.  The United States insisted on including a clause that would protect U.S. soldiers from ICC prosecution.  This bit of fine print is doubly annoying.  It highlights the fact that the White House determines the conditions under which the United States cooperates with the UN, and it damages the Liberia mission itself – a mission meant to get rid of a war criminal who will do anything to avoid going to court.”




Right-of-center Muenchener Merkur maintained (8/4):  “Peace troops are finally making their way to Liberia.  This sounds good, but there are reasons to remain skeptical.  After all, the peacekeepers are from Nigeria, which has sent such troops before.  Back then, their peacekeeping efforts were limited to looting, torture, murder, and blackmail.  Does it really come as a surprise that the majority of Liberians would have preferred the United States to take the lead?”


"Monrovia Waiting For The Americans"


Arne Perras judged in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/4): "The decision should have been made a long time ago, but now the UNSC has removed all obstacles for an intervention force in Liberia.  The people in Monrovia can at least feel encouraged....  Only a quick military intervention can end the chaos that is affecting the state of Liberia. At issue is by no means the rescue of this small country with its three million inhabitants.  If the country definitely collapsed, this would have disastrous repercussions for the neighboring countries.  Fragile peace in Sierra Leone would be in jeopardy, countries like the Ivory Coast and Guinea would hardly have a chance to come to rest.  Large parts of western Africa would become the booty of warlords and a large area would develop without any state order.  This region can get stability only if the trouble spot in Liberia is pacified. For a success of the [UN] mission it would be important that the Americans now rethought their hesitant attitude and get massively involved in a mission, since only Washington has the means to urge all sides involved to end the fighting.  Much would be achieved if the skirmishes in Monrovia ended in a first stage, since this would create the necessary scope of action for humanitarian assistance."


"Self Help"


Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine observed (8/4): "An African solution is increasingly likely in Liberia...but time will tell whether this is enough to turn things to the better in this unstable country....  But it is remarkable that neighboring countries, pushed by the United States, are now showing the strength to create order in Liberia.  This shows that not every civil war in the Third World must be pacified through intervention from the West.  We can only wish this experiment to be successful, even though there are some who require President Bush to show in a strategically unimportant country that the United States is able to intervene for humanitarian reasons. In the long run, it is impossible to turn half the world into western protectorates.  A catchphrase in development policy once was help for self-help."


"UN As Liberator"


 "The fact that even the U.S. superpower needs the United Nations could be a good sign.  At least Washington's interest in unilateral moves is small when the sacrificing of one's own soldiers is not worthwhile due to a lack of national interests.  But even though the United States approved a resolution to save its own forces and gives the commando at the Liberian front into the UN's hands, it still influences with its power the multilateral legal system, since the soldiers who are involved in the Liberia mission are not subject to the International Criminal Court….  But France, Germany, and Mexico rightfully say that they would abstain from a vote on such a resolution.  This move makes clear that we cannot speak of a U.S. return to the table of international order.  The United Nations is allowed to play the role of liberator only as long as it is useful to the United States…."


ITALY:    "Seven Marines Arrive In Liberia"


An article by New York correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli in centrist, influential La Stampa (8/7): “U.S. Marines have arrived in Liberia.  Only seven for the time being, and it is not certain that their number will increase.  But they represent, nonetheless, the evidence of Washington’s support for the international peacekeeping force, led by ECOWAS African troops, in the hope to end a civil war that has lasted 14 years....  The Pentagon has deployed off Liberian waters the naval group of the Iwo Jima unit, with about 2,200 marines, but, for the time being, there is no certainty that they will ever land.  The soldiers who landed yesterday by helicopter in the courtyard of the U.S. embassy in Monrovia have the goal of determining the logistic needs of the African contingent and meet them to the extent possible.  Pentagon sources say that the number of marines may increase to 20, but warn that they should not be considered as the vanguard of a larger contingent.”


"Liberia, More Clashes In Monrovia And Buchanan"


A report from Monrovia in Rome centrist Il Messaggero noted (8/6): “The arrival of the first Nigerian troops of the ECOWAS in Monrovia, two days ago, was not enough to stop the fighting, which resumed yesterday on several fronts.  It will likely be necessary to wait until the whole peacekeeping contingent is deployed...before a more effective ceasefire is achieved.  Yesterday two of the three U.S. ships arrived that that will provide logistic support to the multinational force and that will probably be positioned in such a way as to be visible and thus produce a deterrence effect.  There was also the confirmation that Taylor will give up power.  This is what South African President Thabo Mbeki reported.”


"Monrovia, As Peace Forces Arrive Liberia Resumes Hopes"


Giampaolo Cadalanu reports in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (8/5): “The deployment of ECOWAS forces will increasingly continue in the next eight days....  However, not everything is going well.  Charles still in Monrovia.  He promised to give in power August 11...but rebels don’t believe him....  In conclusion, the arrival of the ECOWAS contingent is just a first step.  And many Liberians continue to hope in the landing of 2300 marines ready to intervene from the U.S. ships anchored in the Guinea Gulf....  However, it is not yet clear what the marines are going to do: they might land to guarantee the truce, with the force of weapons, as well as the birth of temporary institutions, or instead, they might stay at large, as ‘warrants’ of the ECOWAS peacekeepers first, and the UN peace forces later.  The arrival of the Nigerian vanguard in Robertsfield has, however, obtained an initial result: the weapons are remaining silent....  (And) the ceasefire should allow the beginning of humanitarian aid operations.”


"The UNSC Approves The Intervention In Liberia" 


Maurizio Molinari reports from New York in centrist, influential La Stampa (8/3): ”Countdown for the arrival of the peace keeping force to Liberia. The UN green light to the international military intervention was followed yesterday by President Charles Taylor’s announcement that he would leave the country on August 11th....  Indeed, the WH has been repeatedly asking him to leave…but it remains to be seen if he will maintain his commitment with the Ecowas…. The tug of war between President Bush and Taylor began last June, when the Liberian President suddenly disregarded the ceasefire agreement with the rebels, which was the result of at mediation effort by Ghana, which envisaged his resignation and new election at the beginning of next year. After this episode, fighting between the rebels and the government supporters resumed all over the country.…The American commitment in Liberia is due to the link between Washington and the country created in the 1800 to help shelter the slaves that had been freed in North America.”


"Taylor: ‘I Will Leave, In 8 Days’"


A report from Monrovia in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (8/3): “Indeed, the situation is getting more and more complicated, also because it seems that Taylor wants to arrive August 11th after having conquered at least the Monrovia port.... The UN resolution also caused a new friction among western countries. France, Germany and Mexico abstained as they criticized the clause according to which the soldiers from countries that have not ratified the ICC Treaty cannot be tried for war crimes possibly committed in Liberia. This is a clause introduced by the U.S. Washington does not want its soldiers being accused by an international body. In any case, according to the resolution, the peacekeeping soldiers should replace the Ecowas soldiers by October 1st. Kofi Annan admitted that it is unlikely they can respect this deadline. Especially if the marines do not intervene. Their ships are reportedly anchored in front of the Liberian coasts, but the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia keeps the highest reservation about their movements.”


RUSSIA:  "Bush Stints On GIs"


Anton Chernykh wrote in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (8/7): "Yesterday U.S. President George Bush ordered a 'limited contingent of U.S.troops,' a liaison mission of up to 10 people, to Liberia.   A number of African-American human rights organizations in the United States, as well as the UN and African countries, Liberia's neighbors, urged the Bush administration to interfere.   Washington procrastinated, with members ofthe Administration admitting that the White House had its hands full, as it is....   But it could not stay away completely.   To do that after the war in Iraq would have invited accusations of using double standards.


"It's Like Sierra Leone"


Igor Taratuta remarked in reformist Vremya Novostey (8/5): "The current Liberia crisis is very much like what happened in Sierra Leone.  Perhaps that is why it took the peacekeepers so long to get ready.  Once bitten twice shy....   But then, there is no stopping the Liberian tragedy withoutoutside assistance."


AUSTRIA:  "Better Late Than Never"


Foreign affairs writer Gerhard Plott argued in liberal Der Standard (8/5): “Thousands of lives could have been saved in the last few weeks, if the international peace-keeping force would have arrived in Liberia sooner.… But now, at long last, the first Nigerian advance troops have arrived, and the rebels have promised to withdraw. Head of state Charles Taylor, a bloodthirsty first-class gangster, can now keep his promise and go into exile. There is a slight hope for peace in the tortured country, which has suffered massacres and civil war more or less continuously since 1980.… Because the official currency of Liberia was the U.S. dollar, and because its economy was dominated by American companies, the Liberian government was never able to control the finances in the country.  More than 1.5 billion dollars left the country as profits between 1946 and 1975, without the Liberian government seeing a cent of the money.… Considering the hefty profits that Washington made out of Liberia over time, it would have been only fair if U.S. marines had headed the peacekeeping troops and helped the African soldiers. But fairness is not a political category.”


BELGIUM: “Pan-Africanism’s Defeat”


Colette Braeckman averred in left-of-center Le Soir (8/6): “What a disappointment for the Pan-Africanists and for all those who, during the Nineties, said that ‘Africa belonged to Africans’ and who praised the ‘new leaders’ who represented the African continent’s future!  The latter have now lost any credibility....  It is first and foremost in the military field that the evolution is the most striking. While Western public opinions are no longer willing to let their soldiers run risks in Africa and while Western Government are willing to pay African armies to take care of some missions, it is the Africans themselves who are asking the ‘whites’ to intervene! The intervention of the Brits, who managed to stabilize Sierra Leone, was unanimously saluted. And the French intervention in Ivory Coast, stopping the rebels’ progression and imposing the latter’s presence within the Government, was also unanimously approved. In Liberia, where the United States, reluctant to intervene, prefers to support Nigeria’s intervention, the population is still hopeful that the Marines will intervene.... In spite of efforts, ambitions, and ideals, African unity will be as hard to build as the European one.  And the African construction’s problems feed the nostalgia of those who wish a return of colonialism, whereas that page has been turned.”


"Liberia Is Not Iraq"


Foreign editor Evita Neefs observed in independent Christian-Democrat De Standaard (8/5):  “The Bush administration weighed the pros and the cons, did not do anything initially, and finally stationed two war ships off the Atlantic coast.  But, it is still not certain that the Marines will go ashore.  What a difference (that is) with the eagerness with which certain U.S. government leaders went to war against Iraq.  Yet, there are good arguments for an American intervention--also from the angle of American national interests.   Failing states are hotbeds of terrorism, while peace in Liberia would enhance stability in the entire turbulent region.  The Americans recognize that ‘the situation in Liberia is a danger to international security.’  They included that in a resolution with which the UNSC finally approved the mission of the international peace force last Friday.  But, in this case, the poor neighboring countries must take care of the job.  Washington said that the Iraqis had to be liberated from a bloodthirsty dictator.  However, is the fate of the Liberians so much more enviable?   Yet, it would be unfair to blame only the United States--which promised financial support for the peace operation.  The entire international community failed to do its duty....  Kofi Annan must examine his own conscience.  His organization is slow and unwieldy.  At this moment, little is visible of the numerous improvements that were promised.”


HUNGARY:  "Liberian People Paying The Price" 


Foreign affairs writer Levente Sitke held in right wing conservative Magyar Nemzet (8/5):  “When two elephants clash the grass suffers, so goes the saying in Africa. Today in Liberia the elephants of at least three power groups are fighting with each other.  And who pays the price of the antagonism? It is the ‘grass under their feet’, the people of Liberia. Further clashes might lead to a regional conflict.  The three elephants are President Charles Taylor, the Liberians for Reconciliation and Democratization (LURD) and the Movement for Democratic Liberia (Model). Militarily the strongest are undoubtedly Taylor and his men. They have the best chance to win [in the fights]. They control the majority of the army, the police, the special forces and the Anti-terrorist task force. The situation could even be easy for Charles Taylor, should he only have face the riots of neighboring countries. But the entire international community is there and is waiting to see whether Taylor leaves on August 11, as he promised.  And who is going to succeed him and how long will the international peace keeping forces have to stay? Nobody knows yet. But the ‘grass’ [the Liberian people] will surely pay the price for it again.”


IRELAND: "First Team Of U.S. Marines Enters Liberian Chaos"


Declan Walsh observed in center-left  Irish Times (8/7): “A team of seven U.S. Marines flew into Monrovia yesterday, increasing American involvement in the unfurling West African peace mission…The US cautioned that the mission should not be seen as the vanguard of a larger force. President Bush is still hesitating over deploying his troops for potentially perilous onshore peacekeeping duty, stressing instead their support role - mainly in communications and logistics - to the African mission. ‘There are certain things we cannot provide you with,’ one American could be heard telling his Nigerian counterparts....  The U.S. Ambassador, Mr. John Blaney, has tried to persuade the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebels to allow access to the port. But the rebels have sent out confusing signals. Some commanders say they will withdraw once peacekeepers arrive; others say that President Charles Taylor must leave the country first.”




An editorial in center-right, populist Irish Independent noted (8/2):  "Washington does seem to have brought considerable pressure on Guinea, the arms masters of LURD, to bring their fighters to heel....  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 permanent ceasefire. At best, the United States should back a UN vote authorizing a multi-national force to restore humanitarian aid and end the civil war which is bringing with it a rising tide of human calamity.”


SPAIN:  "Hope For Liberia"


Left-of-center El Pais judged (Internet version, 8/5):  "To the relief above all of the Liberian people, the scapegoats of the fighting which is staining their country with blood, the first Nigerian peacekeeping troops have landed in Monrovia, although presumably it will be several days before they venture into the devastated capital 50 km away....  Better late than never. Thousands of innocent people have perished or have been reduced to an animal state in recent months in the cross-fire between the chaotic bands of [Liberian] President Charles Taylor, a mass murderer whose imminent exile in Nigeria is one of the keys to the intervention, and the rebel militias surrounding Monrovia. The effective end to the conflict, however, and the stabilization of one of the most tormented countries in the continent, after 13 years of nightmare under the boot of Taylor, can only come from the USA, whose marines are nearing the Liberian coast. President [George W.] Bush has been reluctant until the last minute to intervene in a civil war that does not directly threaten the interests of his country. But Liberia is a blinding case of moral imperative. If its continued tragedy and its close historic ties with the USA were not enough, the best argument is that the small country is a focal point of instability and an exporter of tribal conflicts to the whole of western Africa, from Guinea to the Cote d'Ivoire or Sierra Leone, a country where Taylor is accused of war crimes....  In the coming days, while the African forces are slowly deployed, uncertainty will reign in Monrovia....  Washington must take advantage of the moment to disembark its marines and demonstrate that the commitment to Africa announced by Bush during his recent journey around the forgotten continent was not just another slogan."


TURKEY:  "Justice In Liberia"


Erdal Guven opined in liberal-intellectual Radikal (8/5): “The brutal civil war in Liberia led to a UN decision to form a new international peacekeeping force.  It was also interesting to see that Liberia, even though a stabilization force already existed there, was begging the U.S. to intervene.… The UN force, however, has a major flaw.  The contributors to the UN force will not be subject to the International Criminal Court.   Instead, they will be tried according to the laws of their own countries.  It might be dangerous to assume that the UN peacekeeping force represents the ‘good’ side, not the bad.  If the International community aims at bringing responsible Liberian leaders to justice, the same rules and regulations should also apply to members of the UN peacekeeping force, at least for the sake fairness.”




MOROCCO: "Taylor Vague On Leaving"


Morning French-language news bulletin on semi-independent regional radio Medi-1 commented (8/5)  "Charles Taylor, a former warlord who is under pressure from the U.S. to step down, will leave but has been vague on timing. Residents of Monrovia who have seen hundreds of people being killed around them want peace. Led by Nigeria, the peacekeeping force for Liberia will include troops from Ghana, Mali, Benin and Togo. America will provide financial backing for the ECOWAS force."


"First Soldiers Of African Force For Liberia Start Work"


Semi-official French-language Le Matin (8/4):  "The mission of this contingent is to put an end to armed confrontations between rebels and forces loyal to President Taylor....  Combat has practically ended since last Saturday thanks to promises made by Taylor to step down."




GHANA:  "Liberia, Don't Disgrace Us"


Privately-owned, urban pro-ruling party (NPP) Accra Daily Mail contended (Internet Version 8/4):  "Our sub-region already stands disgraced. It popularized coups in the 60s and since then has become synonymous with instability, corruption and decline. Even the region's godfather, Nigeria, with its vast resources in oil has not been able to lead its small neighbours into prosperity, since it struck oil several decades ago.... The entire world is looking to see what we can achieve this time. The first attempt just over ten years ago, with ECOMOG, ended in a kind of disaster when the sitting head of state President Doe, was abducted at the headquarters of ECOMOG and murdered brutally. Liberia has not seen peace since, not that his tenure had any peace anyway. Now another tragedy in Liberia is giving us the chance to redeem ourselves. We MUST not fail.  The war lords of Liberia must not be allowed to disgrace us. The people of Liberia deserve better."


"Liberia Burned"


Privately-owned, urban, pro-ruling party (NPP)  Accra Daily Mail judged (8/4):  "The sight of murderous anarchy reigning in Liberia, while the United States and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) haggle over who should pay for saving the civilians haplessly left at the mercy of ravaging gunmen, has been a truly obscene spectacle. Is this the same world, two of whose most powerful members, have only recently mobilized huge military forces at the cost of billions of dollars a day to save Iraqis (and allegedly, Americans and Britains) from being potentially murdered by Saddam Hussein? Liberians ask these questions and get no answers. Meanwhile, they continue to die. To them, the charade of the United States sending warships into Liberian waters, and yet not committing itself fully to come and save them must be incomprehensible. So also must be American’s unwillingness, so far, to announce that it would underwrite the costs of an ECOWAS force, sent to Liberia, over and above the $10m figure it had already pledged.”


KENYA:   "What The World Owes Liberia"


John Mulaa, a columnist, wrote in the independent pro-business Standard (8/3):  "America will half-heartedly flex its muscles, Taylor will be booted out, a new band of former bandits will ascend to power, and a sham election will be organized after some time to legitimise the change.  Victory of democracy will be declared.  However, Liberia will remain essentially unstable and unglued.  Another round of violence will come at some point not too far into the future.  Moreover, the international community will go through  the same motions it is going through now.  A radical solution is necessary to change course.  What Liberia needs is total reconstitution including renaming the bloody place, and getting the Americans or the international community to run it for a while.  That much the United States and the international community owe it to Liberia."


NIGERIA: "Cheers As Nigerian Troops Arrive In Liberia"


The Lagos-based, independent Guardian observed (Internet version, 8/5): "Tears of joy streamed down the faces of many Liberian residents yesterday as the first batch of 300 Nigerian peacekeepers arrived in the war-torn country. Another batch of 300 is billed to arrive later today....  Those who arrived in Monrovia yesterday were greeted by excited civilians who spilled onto the airfield by the hundreds, screaming: 'We want peace!'....  In Monrovia, residents near the city's embattled port heard cheers and watched flares go up over the war-ruined city - rebels, celebrating the arrival of the West African troops....  On Sunday, two of three U.S. warships full of Marines arrived off the country's Atlantic Ocean coast, ready if ordered to deploy to support the peacekeepers, although their exact role remained unclear....  The United States, which oversaw Liberia's 19th-century founded by freed American slaves, has been under international pressure to intervene in the conflict....  West African leaders have promised the force to quell fighting in Liberia, where two months of rebel sieges on the capital have killed more than 1,000 civilians outright and left the refugee-crowded city of more than 1.3 million wracked by disease and desperately short of food and water....   Taylor, a former warlord, pledged on Saturday to cede power on August 11 - meeting one demand by fellow African leaders and the United States.  However, his government has hedged on his promise to go into exile in Nigeria - saying he would leave the country only when enough peacekeepers are on the ground, and when a war-crimes indictment against him is dropped."


TANZANIA: "Africans Should Solve Their Own Crises" 


Abdallah Katunzi Kishwahili asserted in tabloid Majira (8/4):  "The U.S. Government has been in the forefront in ensuring that an emergency peace keeping force comprising of West African nations is sent to Liberia. On the other hand the United Nations, African countries and others have been pressuring the U.S. to take up a leading role in the proposed peace keeping mission.  Africa is now embroiled in too many crises, such that development efforts are in danger of being paralyzed. These conflicts, together with the other problems confronting the continent, like poverty and diseases make Africa a deplorable place. What is deeply disturbing is the dependency syndrome afflicting Africa. We are crying out for troops from western countries to come and provide security for us, when in actual fact it is us who are fighting against each other! What happened to our own African troops? Let us not forget the genocide in Ruanda in 1994. Multitudes perished while we waited for troops to come from countries outside Africa. The U.S. and other countries are doing a good job in helping this continent. But Africa has to take the responsibility in ensuring that peace prevails, by using our own troops. If we fail to do so, then we should forget about trying to get a bigger say in matters affecting us.  It is a big shame that we always seem to have our hands stretched out begging. Feeding ourselves is a problem, although we have sufficient land. Running our own affairs is also a problem, and now even defending ourselves seems to be a problem. I totally agree with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., John Negroponte, when he says that peace keeping efforts in Liberia should be led by ECOWAS and not the U.S.  This is an African conflict and Africans should rise up to the challenge. Yes, we might need some help. But this is only to supplement our own efforts. Africans should solve the problems facing them and not wait for foreign assistance.”


UGANDA:  "Taylor A Hard Lesson On Leader"


Government-owned New Vision carried an op-ed stating (8/7):  "If the words of a cornered warlord-cum-dictator can be believed, by 11.59am on August 11, Mr Charles Taylor will resign as president of Liberia, a new transitional president take over and Charlie Boy and his immediate wrecking crew leave the country for their sunset asylum in Nigeria.  While there is nothing automatic about a return to peace following his departure, it is the plain truth that no kind of peace is possible with him around....  Once Taylor is out, there are challenges that must be surmounted. There are too many negative media reports about the role of the first West African intervention force in the country in the early 1990s. The so-called international community (often meaning Europe and America, sometimes, the UN, and these days, the US, alone!) failed Liberia then as it was engaged in the Gulf. And even today, despite claims of historical linkages with Liberia, like father like son, Dubya is still more interested in Iraqi oil than saving Liberian lives. One hopes that the bitter lessons of the past have been internalized to facilitate a comprehensive settlement this time.  The Government that will emerge should be broad-based to include all interests and sections of the Liberian society. And they must not be beholden to any partisan interests. The ECOMOG forces have to be more than just a peacekeeping operation but also have in its mandate a capacity for offensive and coercive action."


"Taylor, Sankoh Lessons"


An op-ed in government-owned New Vision asserted (8/2):  "The fates of two contemporary public figures in West Africa are heading the way that they inevitably had to. Liberian President Charles Taylor is set to leave his country when foreign peace-making troops are deployed next week. Just across the border, in Sierra Leone, his partner-in-crime, Foday Sankoh, has passed away, to the relief of thousands of his victims.  Tailor, of course, is an indicted war criminal, as was Sanko. Tailor and Sankoh wielded immense power, which they abused. They are not going to leave any systems behind.  Plus, at the end of it all, they would have wound up with nothing- no wealth, no peace, no appreciation. Was it ever worth it? All leaders with immense authority should be mindful no to abuse it."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR): "U.S. Efforts A Relief For Liberia And The World" 


The independent English-language South China Morning Post commented (8/3):  "The cries for help from Liberia's war-ravaged people will soon be answered by multinational commitments.  Although belated, the combined effort by the U.S., the United Nations and African countries is welcome because, eventually, 2.7 million more people in the world will be living in peace.  As importantly, the UN Security Council's decision on Friday to adopt a U.S.-sponsored resolution to contribute a peacekeeping force showed that despite the debacle over Iraq, the world body can still perform its intended role....  Liberia is proof that international pressure works.  The U.S., initially unwilling to get involved in a conflict which did not affect its national security, became a driving force in the push for peace due to media attention and the urging of Britain, France and exiled Liberians....  The U.S. has taken a role expected of a superpower.  Divisions created by Iraq must be forgotten so that global problems  can be dealt with in an even-handed and consensual manner."


TAIWAN: "Keep A Close Eye On Liberia"


The respected, pro-unification, English-language China Post commented(Internet Version, 8/5):  "Now that Liberian leader Charles Taylor has finally set a date for his long-awaited departure, the world's attention has focused on whether the United States will dispatch large numbers of peacekeepers.  But here in Taiwan, events in Liberia are being watched very closely for another reason, namely the West African country's diplomatic intentions after Taylor relinquishes power. That's because while Liberia may be considered somewhat insignificant by major world powers, it is among just 27 countries around the world whose governments continue to maintain diplomatic relations with the Republic of China, rather than the communist People's Republic of China government on the mainland....  Mainland China's status as a permanent, veto-brandishing member of the U.N. Security Council will certainly enhance Beijing's ability to twist arms in Monrovia if and when the U.N. is given a leading role in the country.  As always, we must be extra careful not to lose our relationship with this troubled country, lest a break in relations touch off a potential domino effect with other allies in the region....  While our government has come under severe international criticism for helping the government of Charles Taylor, who has been accused of masterminding years of bloody conflict and massive corruption, the fact remains that as long as Beijing insists on isolating us from the international community, we still need allies to speak up for us at forums we are barred from participating in."


JAPAN:  "U.S. Holds Key to Resolving Liberia's Civil War"


The liberal Mainichi editorialized (8/6):  "An advance unit of multinational troops have arrived in Monrovia to help end 14 years of civil war in Liberia. UNSC Resolution 1497 dictates a three-step peace plan under which the UN will send in a main force of UN peacekeepers by October to help rebuild a free and democratic government in Liberia. But the question is whether UN-mandated multinational forces can restore order to this civil war-wrecked African nation and whether President Taylor will leave Monrovia as he has promised.   The future of Liberia will have a profound effect on the whole African subcontinent. Given its historically close ties with Liberia, it is only natural that the US took the initiative in getting the UNSC to adopt Resolution 1497. The US should play a positive role in resolving this civil war peacefully in close cooperation with the UN and West African nations… President Bush sent warships and 2,000 Marines to the sea off Liberia in indirect support of multinational peacekeepers in return for Taylor's resignation and departure."


INDONESIA: "Peacekeeping Forces Will Have To Be Deployed In Liberia"


Leading independent Kompas commented (8/4): “Efforts to rid the small and poor Liberia in West Africa from the grip of a protracting conflict have shown some progress.  Leaders of West African countries have agreed to send forces to stop the civil war in Liberia.  The initiative by the ECOWAS is seen as a breakthrough.  Liberia will certainly plunge further into political, social and economic chaos if peacekeeping forces are not sent soon…  Even more relieving is the support from the UN and the U.S. for ECOWAS’ peace efforts.  Some 2,3000 U.S. marine guards are expected to arrive in Liberia by the end of this week for a peaceful mission.  The U.S. will also provide logistics valued at USD 10 million.”      




CANADA: "Get Aid To Liberia"


The liberal Toronto Star argued (Internet version, 8/6):  "With any luck, by the time you are reading your paper this morning the first shipments of desperately needed aid will have started flowing into Liberia's besieged capital of Monrovia, where hundreds of thousands of people are on the verge of starvation.... While the United States has yet to decide whether to commit troops, thousands of Marines are waiting in warships sitting off the coast. Liberians pray even the threat of U.S. action will scare Taylor's militias off.  Let's hope so. The humanitarian crisis is mounting by the day....  Liberia is but the latest example of the world community, represented by the United Nations, dragging its feet when urgent action is called for....  So what to do? First, the world community must lean on rebels to allow relief supplies to flow.  Obviously, Taylor must be forced to leave, and to eventually face justice.  But Liberians will gain little if Taylor is merely replaced by another warlord. The country is going to need long-term help from an international military force to police the transition to a democratically elected government. That could take time. But Liberians are owed it."


ARGENTINA: "Controversy At The UN Due To The Mission To Liberia"


Alberto Armendariz, New York-based correspondent for daily-of-record La Nacion, commented (8/3): "The UN Security Council resolution approving the sending of a multinational force to Liberia and exempting US troops from being sued for abuses at the ICC sparked huge controversy... After the voting (12 votes in favor and 3 abstentions), UN secretary general Kofi Annan said 'Frankly, my feelings are with those countries that refrained from voting.' For his part, Gaelle Laroque, from the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, pointed out: 'It is very disturbing to see to what extreme US negotiators can go in their efforts to undermine the ICC.' And he added that 'in this case, the USG was willing to endanger a peace mission having wide support as long as it could manage to weaken the ICC's authority.'"


BRAZIL: "Peace In Liberia"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized (8/6): "It is possible that the military intervention authorized by the UN will end the 14-year-old civil war in Liberia.... The situation is difficult in humanitarian terms....  If President Charles Taylor really resigns, the chances of a peaceful solution will be enhanced.  No one will miss him. He is a bloodthirsty leader who has harmed not only his country, but also the region. The UN court that judges war crimes committed in neighboring Sierra Leone has already indicted him.... The operation has been conducted under U.S. eyes.  There are two U.S. warships near the Liberian shore.  However, the White House refuses to involve the marines directly in the action, despite the historical links between Liberia and the U.S.... It is curious that Bush hesitates to participate in a humanitarian mission sponsored by the UN. His posture contrasts with the one he adopted in regards to Iraq, when the White House acted without UN authorization in a mission that, everybody knows, was not exactly one of peacekeeping."


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