International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 20, 2003

August 20, 2003





** Taylor's departure paves the way for a transitional government in Liberia but "enduring peace and stability" are not guaranteed; the "Liberian butcher" is still capable of "fomenting trouble."


** A long-lasting U.S. engagement is needed, yet naysayers see Americans in a "token" role.


** Taylor's exit was a "charade" to avoid due process; exile is "not punishment enough."




Relief, but low expectations for peace in Liberia-- There is a "sense of greater hope" now that Charles Taylor is gone, but it would be "naive to think" that his exile in Nigeria will bring peace to Liberia "any time soon."  Given Africa's history, global skeptics warned that "no one should be surprised" if Taylor returns or some other "puissant warlord" makes a bid for power.  Reflecting the pessimism in African media, South Africa's liberal Daily News stressed that when conflicts in Africa "sink to the level of bitterness and depravity" as in Liberia, "the chances of an overnight transformation to peace are remote."  Europeans and Asians also shared the "cynical" but "most realistic" vision that "little will change."  According to Belgium's conservative Gazet van Antwerpen this meant "more unsolvable conflicts and many more victims."


Neither Blah nor 'power hungry' rebels inspires confidence-- As Taylor's "long-time ally and comrade in arms," Moses Blah must prove that he is "very different" from Taylor."  Some regarded the transfer of power "a farce to ease the world's conscience," with Berlin's centrist Der Tagesspiegel judging Blah an "interim solution at best."  Others warned, however, that the real problem will be the challenge of dealing with the "much dreaded" LURD and MODEL rebels who have the potential for "blackmailing the international community."


U.S. needs to play a 'central role'--  Both detractors and defenders reiterated that only the U.S. has the capability and "power" to stabilize Liberia.  Despite the Accra agreement, they judged, along with Japan's liberal Asahi, that Liberia's civil war "cannot be brought to an end without the involvement of a multinational force led by the U.S."  Slovenia's left-of-center Vecer averred that ECOWAS was "absolutely impotent" without American assistance," and a Belgian daily concurred that the West African peace force "alone is too weak." The U.S. peacekeepers' most pressing job, insisted South Africa's liberal Natal Witness, is to "keep things running as smoothly as possible until elections herald a new and democratic dispensation."  Pessimists dismissed the U.S. involvement as just a "token presence."


An easy out for a 'murderous scoundrel'--  Euro, Latin and African dailies were incensed that Taylor's political asylum in Nigeria enabled him to escape due process, when "in reality" he should be tried by the ICC.  Capturing the common indignation, Brazil's right-of-center O Globo intoned: "Exile is not punishment enough for a heartless butcher like Charles Taylor."  What really "makes the bile rise," scoffed London's conservative Times, is that "'African dignity' required that one of its rankest criminals be allowed to lie and bluff his way out of town."


EDITOR:  Irene Marr


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This report is based on 62 reports from 32 countries, August 8-20.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.





KENYA:  "Lessons From Taylor Exit"


The independent left-of-center Nation remarked (8/13):  "President Charles Taylor waited till the last minute to fly out into exile.  The conclusion, it appears, is that he never really meant to surrender.  It seems he meant to cling to power all the way til--like Mobutu or Amin--he was pushed out by superior fire or, like his predecessor Samuel Doe, subjected to a gruesome end.  By that time even greater tragedy would have befallen Liberia.  In other words, we owe the event to sustained international pressure.  This, indeed, is what makes it so remarkable.  Notwithstanding how late it took, an African tyrant finally saw that his position was no longer tenable and that, therefore, it was nationally more merciful for him to depart....  It is not by happenstance that the leading lights among them have been Nigeria and South Africa.  They are Africa’s economic, military, political and demographical giants.  Their voices carry weight in many world councils.  And it would have been suicidal for Mr. Taylor to ignore their pressure."

NIGERIA:  "The Taylor Conundrum"

Abuja-based independent Daily Trust commented (8/18):  "It is our firm conviction...that it took far greater courage and compassion for the people of Liberia for the Obasanjo administration to have offered the murderous scoundrel sanctuary from both military defeat and trial by the international war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone than any other stakeholder was willing or able to muster.  We say "well done, Mr. President" for this unique act of sacrifice and enduring courage for which all Nigerians, far from continuing to blame their President, ought really to be proud of him."

"U.S. Should Deploy More Marines"

Lagos based, independent Vanguard editorialized (8/15):  "The activities of illegal bunkerers and oil pipeline vandals that is costing the nation about 300,000 barrels of crude oil waste every day is condemnable....  We disagree that foreign help will aid resolving the problem in the Niger Delta region.  We are particularly piqued by the fact that the U.S. had suggested bringing in its Marines into Nigeria to come and protect her economic interests, it is indisputable that in this country, the larger interest of Nigerians outweighs the small economic interest of any nation; even that of the Americans that they are so eager to protect. Moreover, encouraging such adventure will mean a degradation of the sovereign pride of Nigeria as a country....  The United States in all sense of humility should deploy more of their Marines and other military resources towards ending the deepening crisis in their enclave in Africa, Liberia."

"Asylum For Taylor"

The Lagos based independent Nigerian Observer stated (8/13):  "Bush, who was in Nigeria recently as part of his African visit, described the gesture as timely and the best solution to the crisis in the war-torn West African country. He said the offer of asylum has brightened the chances of peace returning to that country, for which the world is grateful to Nigeria. What is important to us is for peace to return to Liberia."




Lagos based, partially independent Daily Times held (8/8):  "The attitude and disposition of Taylor runs counter to the charter of the African Union (AU) that emphasises good governance.  If a person like Charles Taylor whose sordid activities have become an embarrassment and headache to the international community is given political asylum in Nigeria, it will do limitless violence to our own morality as a people.  If indeed, he comes to Nigeria, he will live in comfort and have all the good things of life he had denied the people of Liberia and Nigerians living in Liberia as well as those he sent to their early graves.  Nigeria then, will become a haven for criminals.  What a shame!"


SOUTH AFRICA:  "Liberia's Liberation"


The liberal Natal Witness commented (8/13):  "Taylor's successor...Moses Blah, was his long-time ally and comrade in arms, and rebels demand that a neutral candidate be chosen to preside over a transitional government until the elections can be held.  Unless this happens--or unless Blah shows that his leadership style is very different from Taylor's--there's bound to be some residual turbulence despite the fact that there's an almost palpable hunger for peace among Liberians.  The sooner U.S. peacekeepers join the Nigerians already in the country, therefore, the better.  Their most pressing job is to keep things running as smoothly as possible until elections herald a new and democratic dispensation." 


"More Than Blah"


Liberal Cape Times opined (8/13): "The presence of three U.S. warships and of mainly Nigerian peacekeeping troops...sent a clear message to Taylor that his time was up, but also a message to his encroaching rebel enemies to keep their distance....  The swift exit of Taylor apparently overcame the reservations which the rebels previously had about accepting Blah as transitional president. The stage has now been set for a transitional government of national unity leading to elections and, with much luck, stability hitherto chronically unstable country - and perhaps the whole West African region....  The New Partnership for Africa's Development, the continent's main growth programme, sets conflict resolution as an indispensable priority for recovery. But let us not forget that Nepad is also about partnership with the developed world.  The presence of the U.S. warships was a crucial element in this operation. This was what you might call Nepad with teeth.  Or gunboat diplomacy by consent."


"Liberia At The Crossroads"


Liberal Daily News opined (8/11): "History has shown that when conflicts in Africa sink to the level of bitterness and depravity such as that which exists in Liberia, the chances of an overnight transformation to peace are remote....  Taylor remains an enigmatic player in the West African nation's future....  Given half a chance, no one should be surprised if, at some time in the future, he tries to regain his dictatorship.  And even if he doesn't, there are a host of other puissant warlords who would be more than happy to make a bid for power.  For this reason it is essential that the ambitious United Nations plan to rebuild Liberia's infrastructure and government is taken seriously and supported by key fellow West African countries and the United States...  The U.S. clearly has historic ties and obligations to Liberia which it will surely attempt to meet. But it will only do so on its own terms. And one of those is certain to be a return to democracy. Only the Liberians themselves can determine whether this is feasible. Only they can ultimately determine their own destiny."


"All Eyes On Charles Taylor"


The liberal Sunday Argus noted (8/10):  "Previous attempted settlements have failed to bring enduring peace and stability to Liberia.  Why should this one succeed?  There can be no guarantee of success and the odds are probably close to 50-50.  But there is a sense of greater hope this time because Africa and the world are applying their minds more diligently to the problem....  We would hope that when...Taylor is gone, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo and Ghana's John Kufuor, strongly backed by the AU, will lead Ecowas in a strong move to end this dangerous tit-for-tat game that has destabilized the whole of West Africa and discredited the continent." 


GHANA:  "The Accra Daily Mail"


The urban, pro-ruling party (NPP) Accra Daily Mail opined (8/19): “We can assume therefore that with the departure of Charles Taylor, one of the major problems of Liberia has been solved. The other major problem is what to do with the so-called rebels and the war lords leading them. They may yet turn out to be as problematic to Liberia and the international community as Charles Taylor was.  This is because they are armed to the teeth and from all indications power-hungry. Television images of their “Generals”, who look rather doped to the gills and “soldiers”, who are nothing but children, tell the story of people who are relishing the power that their guns have given them. Guns and megalomania usually go hand in hand so the international community must make it clear to the rebels that they cannot be “rewarded” for the carnage they helped unleash on their country.”


"What Next After Taylor’s Exit?"


The independent regional Ghanaian Chronicle editorialized (8/13):  "The planned exit of Mr. Charles Taylor into exile came off smoothly on Monday to the relief of all people concerned with the situation in Liberia.  But this is only a step forward in the process of restoring and sustaining the peace in that beleaguered country which for the past 14 years has known no peace."


"Liberia Needs Urgent Assistance"


Abigail Acquaye argued in the state-owned, national circulation Ghanaian Times (8/12):  “In view of the prevailing situation Liberians find themselves in, it is critical that the world community quickly contribute generously to the $70 million emergency assistance for Liberia.  If the U.S. spent two billion dollars ($2 billions) on Iraq, it must as a matter of urgency, assist Liberians to re-construct the country. After all the U.S. has long historical and cultural links with Liberia.  But despite his pariah image, Taylor should be commended for agreeing to let go where another African leader would have chosen to go down with the country."


MOZAMBIQUE: "General Hypocrisy"   


Independent Expresso da Tarde noted (8/11): "Take a look, while the [U.S.-led] interventions in Iraq and Bosnia Herzegovina were rapid and unprecedented, for the situations like those in Burundi and Liberia, above all the U.S. doesn't remember the devil....  There are those who invoke racist reasons for the actions of the White House in treating situations like in Burundi comparatively with what happened in Bosnia-Herzegovina or (likewise) the financial interests with respect to Iraq, compared to Liberia where in the past rubber plantations were the most important income earner for that country founded by descendents of American slaves.  Here today we have to recognize, sadly, that the world spins exposed and vulnerable.  The UN itself is incapable of lending any weight to its decisions before the vigorous 'NO' from the U.S."


SENEGAL:  "Liberia Is Coming Out Of Its Troubles; But Only Its Head Is Above Water"


Bara Diouf wrote in pro-government Le Soleil (8/13):  “In order to manage the situation, which is far from being comfortable, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has invited members of the organization to participate in the implementation of a multinational peacekeeping force, as adopted by the Security Council, and to provide right away all possible assistance to the Liberian people....  The United States is missing the call because there are still doubts about their level of participation and even on the principle of that participation.  As it is the country that was there at the beginning of the creation of Liberia, in the 19th century, no one understands the hesitations of the big power--America....  Its international credibility depends on...involvement [in Liberia] and on the level of interest it shows for Black Africa, several months before the presidential elections which interest President Bush.  Black American voters, however Democratic, can not be ignored!"


TANZANIA:  "Bush Can Help Bring Peace In Africa"


The English-language weekly Express took this view (8/14):  “History was made on Monday this week when Liberian president Charles Taylor handed over the reigns of power....  The warlord-turned president left his homeland for Nigeria, where he will live for the rest of his life.  It is worth knowing that this was an American inspired move aimed at bringing peace to war ravaged country.  Although Taylor blamed President George Bush for banishing him...people on streets of Monrovia cheered as the plane carrying the war-crime suspect began accelerating on the tarmac.  Like a Biblical phrase that goes, 'But only say the word and my soul shall be healed,' Bush's word has given peace to Liberia.  This has further served to show that America as a superpower has resources and influence to alleviate sufferings on the African continent.  For instance, if Bush orders all rebels that fight conventional warfare in Liberia, Congo, Burundi and Sudan to stop fighting, we believe they would put down their arms.  However, what is sadly lacking is a will on the part of Americans to do that and save the continent from suffering.  We now challenge Bush also to ask Liberian rebels to cease fire and participate in the national unity government that Blah has promised to form.  We also challenge Bush to tell Burundi and Sudan rebels to put down arms or risk sanctions.  Just a word from Bush can save millions of African lives." 


UGANDA:  "Taylor Exit Will Not Bring Peace"


An editorial in the independent Monitor contended (8/15):  "Mr. Charles Taylor was on Monday robbed of his presidency and honor by a clique of self-appointed ambassadors of peace who live under the illusion that they have suffering Liberians at heart.   To learn that South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki traveled all the way from Pretoria to join other leaders, who organized a coup against Taylor, yet he keeps dragging his feet whenever voices of reason call on him to speak out against Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, was disappointing.  Mr. Mugabe should have stepped aside long before Taylor. To think that once Taylor is out of the equation, peace will automatically return to war-torn Liberia is to miss the point.  The issue is not so much Taylor, but rather how to deal with the much-dreaded LURD and MODEL rebels.  These gallows are intent on fighting their way to State House whether or not Taylor is in power.  Liberia will not see peace with these rebels on the loose."


 "Control Taylor Like Amin"


The government owned New Vision held (8/14):  "Charles Taylor has left Liberia for Nigerian exile after handing over the presidency of his beleaguered nation.  But, typical of the man, he warned the countrymen who have endured 13 years of tyrannical rule that he would 'be back.'  This is open to interpretation--would his body be returned?  Or does he hope to take power again?  Could he return as a private citizen?  Whichever way, Taylor is capable of fomenting trouble.  Nigeria is best advised to handle him the way Saudi Arabia has treated Idi Amin--no statements, no press interviews, few visitors, restricted travel.  Consequently, Uganda has not had to contend with what could have been the long shadow of the most despotic of them all."


"New Hope For Liberia"


An editorial in the independent Monitor offered (8/13): ”A few weeks ago, The Monitor joined the chorus of calls on Liberian President Charles Taylor to step down, if not for anything else, to save the Liberian people yet another bloodbath, as rebels closed in on the capital, Monrovia.  Taylor did exactly that on Monday. But despite his pariah image, Taylor should be commended for agreeing to let go where another African leader would have chosen to go down with the country. Now, the challenge on the new leadership, the rebels, and the West African peacekeepers is enormous. The new president, Moses Blah, who is from the old order, has a lot to prove, especially that he is different from Taylor. The rebels must demonstrate that they are not just power hungry gunmen, but people with a cause, while the peacekeepers need to concentrate on their job, and not get sucked into the local politics. At the end of the day, Africans of goodwill expect all the parties to deliver Liberia from the shackles of bad governance back on the road to democracy and prosperity."


"Why Is Fearless Taylor Bolting"


The independent Monitor held (8/10):  "Write off Taylor at your own peril.  He is going to lie low in some rogue country, probably the same one where he did his military training, knowing that the slaughter at home will continue.  When the country has been thoroughly 'Somalianized' then he will emerge from obscurity to reclaim the political and moral high ground as a messiah."


ZIMBABWE:  "Africa Must Now Bear On Mugabe To Step Down"


The independent Daily News editorialized (8/14):  “The changing of the guard in Liberia, where Charles Taylor resigned as president on Monday and flew to Nigeria for political asylum, could provide useful lessons for troubled Zimbabwe....  While Liberia has been torn apart by civil war in the past 20 years, Zimbabwe is gripped by deepening political and economic anarchy after President Robert Mugabe presided over the virtual destruction of the economy.  Taylor, for all his sins of the past, should be commended for seeing the light and stepping aside so that peace could return to the shattered land.  He obviously realized that Liberia is bigger than Taylor....  In Zimbabwe, Mugabe still clings to power despite mounting public pressure for him to step down in the midst of a rapidly worsening economic crisis created by his government’s poor policies....  Although Mugabe’s colleagues in the Southern African region have been working behind the scenes to try to put things right, much more needs to be done at that level to make clear to the president that there can never be normality until democracy is restored to Zimbabwe.  The African leaders could use their influence to ensure that Mugabe is not forced to go the Taylor route.  Whether or not an African country would be prepared to offer him asylum would depend largely on the modalities and timing of his departure.”




BRITAIN:  "Goodbye To All That?"


An analysis in the independent weekly Economist (8/16-8/22):  "Will Mr. Taylor's departure really end the war?  There are hopeful signs.  On August 12th, LURD leaders promised to pull back form central Monrovia to allow aid workers to move food and medicine through the port. But they remain hostile towards the rump of Mr. Taylor's regime and unfriendly toward each other.  An interim government is supposed to be formed by October....  Meanwhile, in Buchanan, Liberia's second city, fresh fighting broke out between MODEL and the army.  Outsiders are poised to help.  About 1,000 Nigerian peacekeepers have been deployed....  And after much hesitation, President George Bush started to sen d in some marines to secure the port, patrol the air and protect aid deliveries....  To outsiders, Liberia can seem baffling...  In Ghana, representatives of the government, rebels and civil-society groups are negotiating the form and composition of Liberia's promised interim government, and a timetable for elections.  But the war may not yet be over and, even if its is, rebuilding Liberia will be an awesome task....  The long climb back to the level of development Liberia enjoyed in the 1970's will require peace, hard work, competent government and lots of foreign assistance. How much aid Liberia receives may, and should depend on what efforts Liberians make to help themselves.  Some seem willing."


"Some Lamb"


Rosemary Righter, associate editor, wrote in the conservative Times (8/13):  "The whole point of the choreographed farce was to let Taylor escape due process, by carting him off to Nigeria.  But it is not that which makes the bile rise; it is the insistence that 'African dignity' required that one of its rankest criminals be allowed to lie and bluff his way out of town.  I have nothing against letting psychopathic tyrants escape with their lives, if airlifting them out is the only way to stop them hacking or starving thousands more of their immiserated subjects to death.  Their [dictators'] fate, still, is secondary to that of their people.  The problem with trying such monsters for crimes against humanity is that if they believe, as did Saddam and as does Mugabe, that they will end up in the dock, they will multiply atrocities to cling to power....  It was for the sake of Liberians past the limits of endurance that he was offered sanctuary; guile was the quickest way to get rid of him.  But let these dictators, at the least, be unceremoniously bundled out."


"The Price Of Peace In Liberia Is Well Worth Paying"


The center-left Independent commented (8/12):  "There will be those who ask whether such a brutish leader as Mr. Taylor should have been granted the luxury of leaving office with dignity.  The formal ceremony, however, with three other African leaders in attendance, lent an air of legitimacy to the handover--and to his interim successor, Moses Blah--that might not have been achieved by other means.  Still more contentious, however, is the price of Mr. Taylor's departure: immunity from prosecution for war crimes....  Perhaps what is most hopeful for the future of Africa is the precedent that Mr. Taylor's resignation could set.  The next candidate for resignation and exile should be Robert Mugabe, whose departure could do as much for Zimbabwe as we hope Mr. Taylor's 'self-sacrifice' will do for Liberia." 

FRANCE:  "Taylor's Stepping Down Has Not Changes Any Minds In Washington"

Washington correspondent for left-of-center Le Monde Patrick Jarreau commented (8/13): “The fact that Charles Taylor stepped down from power, which was the main condition put forward over a month ago by the U.S. for it to become involved in peace-keeping operations in Liberia, has not changed any minds in Washington.… Donald Rumsfeld continues to say that there is a danger of American soldiers being targeted by the Liberians themselves or by terrorist groups that have infiltrated Liberia.… Despite criticism, especially from, African-American members of Congress, Mr. Bush has decided to go along with the Pentagon’s position.”


GERMANY:  "Mock Peace For Liberia"


Michael Bitalla argued in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/20): "This is a classical African peace.  The war opponents agreed on paper to stop fighting, disarm their fighters, set up an interim government, and conduct democratic elections later…but after 14 years of war, such an agreement sounds absurd.  Have the criminals from yesterday turned into responsible politicians overnight?  Of course not....  Nevertheless, the Accra Agreement is a great step forward.  After months of bitter fighting, charity organizations at least see a better chance to help the downtrodden people.  The alleviation of misery is progress, but real peace has by no means be achieved....  Liberia can be saved only if the international community closely monitors the new government or even appoints a new one.  In addition, a peacekeeping force would be necessary, supported by Europe and the United States.  Bush's announcement to withdraw U.S. forces on October 1 shows the small U.S. interest.  Thus the Liberians are left alone with an unrealistic peace treaty."


"Brief Rest"


Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin held (8/18): "There are burgeoning hopes.  The rebels kept their word and withdrew from Monrovia....  The small western African peace force does not yet have the situation under control, but there is at least no more fighting in Monrovia.  And the United States, too, finally decided to send forces....  But the relief of the preliminary end of the killing could quickly be disappointed, too, since a permanent solution to the conflict is not in sight....  Peace is by no means certain, and even if there is an agreement, a state cannot be established with the warring parties.  Blood sticks to their hands and they do not have any experience with good governance.  The strategy of the western African and Americans will not be successful: to allow as few soldiers as possible and as briefly as possible in the country.  Liberia will not come to rest for quite some time."


"A Power Vacuum After Taylor"


Centrist Mitteldeutsche Zeitung of Halle judged (8/18): "For years, Liberia has been the play thing of gangs.  It were the circumstances in the country that allowed someone like Charles Taylor -- the most talented among the slaughterers -- to rise.  If he were not the president, he would have been a different gang leader.  After his departure, a power vacuum has developed for the time being.  The African history teaches us that the situation can still get worse than we fear.  Like in Somalia where one of the most evil tyrants was ousted, but the country reached a new low and has gone down in anarchy today.  In Liberia, people are still fighting for power and booties.  The central question is whether the peace forces in the country will be able to change the situation.  Will they really succeed in establishing rules enabling a competitor with better arguments to win the presidency?"




Michael Naumann wrote in center-left, weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (8/14):  "The United Nations heaved a sigh of relief.  Is this a Happy End for Africa?  In reality, Charles Taylor and his deputy Moses Blah should be put on trial before the International Criminal Court--like their trading partners who bought Liberia's diamonds which the Taylor clique offered to them.  This would be an example that could probably deter Angola's President Dos Santos.  With the support of U.S. oil companies he hid many billions of U.S. dollars away, while his people are going down in misery.  The assets of these hellhounds has been 'parked' somewhere.  But it belongs to the victims of dictatorships." 


"Taylor Steps Down--His End Is A Beginning"


Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin judged (8/12):  “Fourteen years later President Taylor steps down--and the fight for the West African country begins anew: large parts of Liberia are occupied by rebels, American soldiers remain in a waiting position, and Taylor’s successor Vice President Moses Blah represents an interim solution at best.  The rebels of LURD have already announced they would not recognize Blah as president.  If the rebels were to assume power, however, the bloodshed after the long months of fighting would be prolonged.  The Americans should therefore carry out their announcement, which they have linked to Taylor’s resignation, and directly support the military peacekeeping troops of the neighboring West African countries.... Without long-term aid by the UN, Liberia, which is a bigger country, will not calm down.  Upon abdicating, the dictator said hypocritically he has done his share.  Now, it is up to others to do their duty.” 


"The Big Taylor Show"


Arne Perras commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung (8/12):  “Liberia’s salvation does not lie in the fact that a warlord has been driven out of the country.  Its problems lie far deeper.  The region will find peace in the long-term only if the international community can break the cycle of violence specific to Liberia....   As long as Taylor is not brought to a prison cell of the special tribunal in Sierra Leone and remains in exile, he will pose a danger.”


ITALY:  "The Marines Arrive And The Liberian Rebels Shake Hands With Them"


An unsigned editorial in elite, classical liberal Il Foglio remarked (8/15): “The U.S. soldiers land and the Liberian rebels withdraw....   Indeed, in Liberia, a new model of peace keeping in Africa is being tested. The British used it first in Sierra Leone.…  Indeed, this international intervention also denies several analyses on the Bush Administration’s unilateralism.... It is too soon to say whether the Sierra Leone model will work in Liberia.... But it is clear that this intervention is due to both humanitarian and national security reasons, as it is well known that the ‘failed’ states can easily become bases to host international terrorists.  And, once in while, everyone, including the UN and the humanitarian organizations agree on one issue: without a regime change Liberia would have not had any hope.”


"The Liberia Model"


Elite, classical liberal Il Foglio editorialized (8/13):  “An effort is going on to resolve this current crisis related to the civil war in Liberia....  And who is taking care of it?....  First of all, both Nigeria and South Africa won’t step back due to their natural...leading role in the whole area....  The United Nations remains in the background...ready (however) to send its humanitarian support as soon as the situation will permit.  Ultimately, there is an active, powerful warrant that is able to help resolve the problems without even being on either the front line or a protagonist.  President George W. Bush....  This is a multilateral effort.  The coalition is based on existing regional institutions, but it is also provided with an original vision as well as new vigor.  In fact, whoever is willing to help will be welcomed.  President Bush was able to inspire its (Liberia’s) African neighbors to take some positive initiatives, thus triggering a process full of hope.  Bush’s administration knows well the U.S. strength, and therefore, also its responsibility.  Whether in Iraq, North Korea or Africa, when there is a problem, (the U.S.) tries to resolve it with means that would be compatible with that specific region, issue or situation.  And it is especially for this reason that (the Bush administration) should be supported.”


RUSSIA:  "Liberians Look To Bush"


Vladimir Kara-Murza observed in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (8/11):  "The overwhelming majority of Liberians place their hopes on U.S. President George Bush, not on their next head of state....  The delay with the announced landing of U.S. troops in Liberia is a sign of a serious conflict in the U.S. top leadership, among the State Department, the Pentagon and the White House....  The White House's current actions show that calling the United States a world policeman is not quite right.  Washington is willing to intervene only where its interests are involved.  George Bush's aides must believe that Liberia does not belong there."


"Too Good To Be True"


Georgiy Stepanov said in reformist Izvestiya (8/11): "With Taylor out and peacekeepers in, things may quiet down for a while, but the situation will not change radically.   Apart from internal causes, the events in Liberia have external ones like ethnic and religious strife in neighboring Sierra Leone and the Congo."


AUSTRIA: “The Heart Of Darkness”


Mass-circulation Kurier editorialized (8/8): “Sometimes interventions are seen as a bad thing, as was the case in Iraq.  This, at least, was the attitude of many Europeans.  Sometimes, they are seen as a good thing--even the Pope recently recommended an intervention in Liberia.  When and how is an intervention justified?  This question not only concerns the also concerns the Europeans.  There are more than enough reasons for an intervention in Liberia: Perverted dictators, mass murderers, children trained to be torturers, robbers of billions....  Action is needed....  The British showed in Sierra Leone that such operations can be successful, as did the French in an EU operation in certain parts of Eastern Congo.  Such operations are like wading through mud: Tribes are more important than nations, the concept of order does not exist, civilian helpers run the risk of being murdered as well.  In a situation of this kind, it is pointless to reminisce about historical guilt. This is not about doing good, but about choosing the lesser of two evils.”


BELGIUM:  "Can Bush Save Africa?"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn commented in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (8/14):  "Now that Charles Taylor has finally left Liberia...all eyes are focused on the United States.  All African countries--and Liberia in particular--are hoping for a long-lasting American engagement.  In their eyes, only the Americans can protect them against even more misery....  When they count so much on the Americans, it is because of the knowledge that only Washington can bring a solution.  If there is one country that has the power and the means to put an end to the violence in Liberia, it is the U.S.  But, in that case, the Americans should be willing and, above all, have the capability....  The most likely scenario is that little will change.  That means: more unsolvable conflicts and many more victims.  Is that a cynical vision?  Probably so, but it is also the most realistic.”  


"American Intervention"


Foreign affairs writer Erik Ziarczyk judged in financial De Financieel-Economische Tijd (8/12):  “The West African peace force may bring a solution.  But, experiences in the area show that such a peace force is too weak to put and end to the war.  Furthermore, such missions don’t have a good reputation....  That is why the call for an American intervention is becoming increasingly louder....  Some urge the United States to deploy a limited force to separate the warring parties.  But, the Americans are hesitating and count on the West African countries and the UN.  After Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States doesn’t want to become trapped in a new hornet's nest [and] is limiting itself to logistical support to the West African peace force.  Without a firm intervention it is unlikely that Taylor’s departure will lead to the end of the war in Liberia.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Bush Does Not Want To Burn Himself In Africa"


Miroslav Honsu editorialized in the center-right Lidove noviny (8/13):  "West Africa resembles the Balkans.  Not only by its mountainous coast and the tangle of nations, languages, religions, but also by its tangled web of conflicts which have been destroying this part of Africa since the beginning of the 90s.  The strong players in this region--France, Britain, and Nigeria--would like most to hand over the main role to the U.S.  But George W. Bush does not want it....  Bush's hesitation is strange.  The U.S. has sent its soldiers to Iraq to help the suffering people there, so why do they not want to help to Liberia to which they have strong historical ties (unlike to Iraq)?  What is certain is that the Americans were caught off guard by the extent of losses they had an continue to have in Iraq.... While the U.S. does not hesitatet to intervene in Latin America, Bush is conditioning (unlike in Iraq) the entry of U.S. troops in Liberia to U.N. approval, departure of Charles Taylor into exile, and the general calming of the situation in the country.  If the two thousand marines on the three ships  off the coast of Liberia represent everything that Washington is offering the devastated country, it is not enough and rather than savior, the Americans appear like vultures waiting for the predators to abandon the remains of the loot.  Let us hope that this time the hyenas will not feast long."


IRELAND:  "Liberians Cheer As U.S. Sweeps Into Monrovia"

Declan Walsh observed in center-left Irish Times (8/15):  “American marines dramatically swept into Monrovia yesterday, clearing the way for Nigerian peacekeepers to seize control of the entire city and ending two months of crippling sieges….It was the first U.S. peacekeeping mission to Africa since the ill-fated 1993 Somalia mission, which ended in bloodshed and humiliation....  Taylor's militia fighters also withdrew, clearing the streets of rampaging drugged-up gunmen for the first time in months....  At the heavily looted port, Nigerian and U.S. troops secured the perimeter....  The U.S. has stressed it would play a support role to the West African mission, which is organized by the regional bloc, Ecowas. However more than the promised 200 troops had been deployed by yesterday....  Leaders of the post-Taylor government said they welcomed the U.S. deployment.”


"Rebels Agree To Withdraw From Liberian Capital"


Declan Walsh asserted in the center-left Irish Times (8/13):  "The LURD withdrawal from Monrovia was brokered by U.S. diplomats and Nigerian peacekeeping commanders.… U.S. ambassador John Blaney said a ‘multinational force’ would fill the vacuum left by withdrawing rebels, but any U.S. involvement ‘has to be determined’....  The breakthrough should help end the severe food crisis affecting over a million Monrovians. Rebel control of the port has cut off rice supplies from most of the city, sparking a tenfold price increase in government-controlled areas....  Replacing their earlier claim for the departure of Mr. Taylor, the rebels said they now want to head an interim government due to be formed in October.”


"Liberia Deserves International Help"


The center-left Irish Times editorialized (8/12):  “Liberia has a real opportunity to escape from the dreadful plight to which his seven years of rebellion to 1996 and six years in power from 1997 reduced it....  It is still unclear if and when the 2,300 United States Marines on warships off Liberia will be deployed in anything other than a token fashion.  A U.S. presence is essential if the handover of power and the deployment of international aid through the port of Monrovia are to be credible....  The U.S. has a special relationship with Liberia, and a special responsibility for its welfare....  Now that Mr. Taylor has departed, as President Bush insisted he must do if U.S. troops are to be used on the ground, there can be no excuse for more delay and prevarication, much of it driven by ideological argument in Washington about participating in UN interventions....  U.S. troops would be welcomed on the ground.  Their reputation and discipline would make a huge difference in stabilizing Liberia and allowing the political and administrative transition proceed smoothly....  Liberians deserve all the outside help they can get with it.”


NORWAY: "Liberia’s Freedom"


The newspaper-of-record Aftenposten commented (8/13): “Charles Taylor is gone from Liberia.… Much depends on what the U.S. does.… The most important in any case is that the U.S. uses its own influence and financial power to support both the UN plan of larger contributory forces and the discussions that are going on about Liberia’s future administrated by the West African economic cooperative organization ECOWAS.”


POLAND: "The African Way"


Wojciech Jagielski opined in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (8/13): “Charles Taylor resigned and left Liberia to live in exile in Nigeria. Thus, he joined the club of former African presidents ousted and forced out of their native countries, or even a more ‘elite’ club of former leader-criminals who, even though they may have been tried, will be never punished for crimes they committed....   African leaders do not want to humiliate their colleagues with tribunals as they fear they may face a similar fate someday.  Also, Africans believe that leaders deserve an almost feudal-lord respect, like one paid to traditional tribal chiefs. Thus, they prefer to part with the tyrants the African way, silently, washing their dirty linen covertly or just sweeping the dirt under the carpet.... They think it is better to let [the tyrants] go; otherwise, paralyzed with fear of punishment, they can stick to power at all costs and ultimately bring their countries to collapse.”


SLOVENIA:  "Belated Resignation"


Vojislav Bercko commented in left-of-center independent Vecer (8/12):  "More than anything, the resignation ceremony of the Liberian butcher illustrated to the world the conditions that exist in such countries.  Instead of leaving silently and in secret...Taylor bid his good-byes in the presence of high African statesmen....  With Taylor's departure, the fratricidal far from its end....  Since the rebels control 60% of the country including the port in Monrovia, through which humanitarian aid is expected to come, they have more than enough opportunities for blackmailing the international community....  Therefore, the transfer of authority from the absolutist president to his equally undemocratic vice-president is just a farce meant to ease the world’s conscience....  The United Nations, which trying to improve its bad image and win back people’s confidence; however, despite the arrival of...Nigerian peace forces it is clear that the United States--whose ships with 2,300 Marines are moving toward Liberia’s coast--will decide war and peace in Liberia....  ECOWAS…is absolutely impotent without America’s assistance.  After its partial successes in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle Eastern peace process, and other foreign policy steps, the United States will have another opportunity.  Perhaps, this one...will be successful.”




LEBANON: "What Follows The Toppling Of The (Liberian) Dictator?"


An editorial by Sahar Bassiri in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar held (8/12): “Liberia is a new specimen that manifests the interferences of the Bush Administration in the affairs of various countries around the world:  Bush exerted great pressure on its President Charles Taylor to make him leave, and Taylor had no choice but to bow under this pressure.  Obviously, no one regrets Taylor’s departure...however, the way he left raises many questions:  What is America’s role in making presidents like Taylor?  How come it discovered suddenly that he was a dictator? What is a dictator in America’s view and doesn’t it have alliances with many similar dictators around the world?...  Furthermore, What will happen to Liberia following Taylor’s departure?  Will America be able to prove that it is ready to find the right way to build a state?  Or will it be enough for it to change the situation in Liberia without finding serious alternatives?”


TUNISIA:  "Interference And Interrogations"


Editor-in-chief Noureddine Hlaoui observed in independent French-language Le Temps (8/14):  “The tragedy that Liberia is living currently and which has been going on for more than 10 years is just a reflection of a tarnished image of an African continent seized by all kind of catastrophes....  The sad example of Liberia led us to raise some questions.  First, why is the U.S. forcing its will on Liberia?  Why has it waited so long before intervening?  Second, why this push in Liberia and not in any other African country suffering the same dilemma?  Is this a way to prove American efficiency before proceeding with ‘legitimacy’ in the same manner in other places?  Is this a U.S. signal to Europe to make it understand that it can impose itself wherever and whenever it wants to?  What is certain, is that it is up to the Africans to decide their fates and their future.”




CHINA:  "A Turning Point In Liberia"


Zhao Zhangyun commented in the official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao, 8/13):“Taylor is gone and the cease-fire has been realized.  Therefore the question of whether or not the U.S. will send peacekeeping troops has aroused people’s attention....  For a long time now, American warships off Liberia’s coast have been ready for further instructions.  But today a U.S. Defense Department official said that so far there is no plan for the 2300 soldiers on board to land....  It seems there still exists a severe divergence within the U.S. government about whether to intervene directly in Liberia’s crisis or not.”


CHINA (MACAU SAR): "Liberia's Road To Peace Is Not Smooth"


The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News commented  (8/17):  "The international community believes that the United States is the only nation that has the power to stabilize the situation in Liberia.  It is a pity that the U.S. administration has no interest in doing so....  The U.S. made excuses from the beginning for its refusal to send any peacekeeping troops to Liberia.  Eventually, the situation got out of control.  The U.S., under pressure from the international community, reluctantly sent a small group of marines to the coast of Liberia....  Liberia's future largely depends on whether it can find a transitional leader who has no connection with any of the conflicting groups.  The Economic Community of West African States will gradually increase the number of peacekeeping troops.  This will help stabilize Liberia, however, the road will be a rough one."


JAPAN:  "Although Taylor Leaves, Difficulties Lie Ahead"


The liberal Asahi's Monrovia correspondent Osaki observed (8/13): "With outgoing President Taylor's departure from Liberia, the focus of attention is shifting to the creation of an interim government in Monrovia. The question is whether or to what extent New President Moses Blah, who succeeded Taylor, allows rebel forces to join the new government.... There are already concerns that Blah and rebel leaders will fail to form an interim government, intensifying the civil war.  Given the deployment of a small number of multinational peacekeepers in Monrovia, formed by soldiers from West African nations, there are rising expectations on the effective peacekeeping role by U.S. Marines who are on standby off shore."               


"U.S. Responsible For Ending Civil War"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (8/10):  "Liberia's civil war cannot be brought to an end without the involvement of a multinational force led by the U.S.  But President Bush continues to have Marines stay off shore, as if to show U.S. reluctance to get involved in ending the conflict....  U.S. troops should land in Liberia now and restore peace and order in indirect support of Liberians' efforts to rebuild their civil war-wrecked nation.  The restoration of peace in Liberia is also important in restructuring U.S.-UN relations that have become shaky over the U.S.-led war on Iraq."              




Editorial writer Bang Hyung-nam wrote in the independent Dong-a Ilbo (8/13): “It is too naïve to think that former President Charles Taylor’s going into exile in Nigeria will bring peace to Liberia anytime soon.  New President Moses Blah’s appeal to the U.S. for help in saving dying Liberians as soon as he took office attests to an extremely complicated situation facing the country....  However, Washington is balking at involving itself in the Liberian crisis.  Considering that the U.S. invaded Iraq citing the country’s suspected development of weapons of mass destruction, we wonder if the U.S. believes that stopping the bloodshed in Liberia is not as important as preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  It is impossible for a mere 700 African peacekeepers to protect the lives of Liberian people.  We strongly urge Washington to immediately order its 3,000 troops, now on standby on ships off the coast of Liberia, to land in the country.”


INDONESIA:  "Finding Solution For Liberia By Ousting President Taylor"


Leading independent Kompas commented (8/12):  “The question is whether...the U.S., which joined in [Charles Taylor's] forced removal, will significantly help the country that was born out of its interference....  No matter the situation, a solution must be sought for Liberia or it could trigger a regional crisis.”


THAILAND:  "U.S. Role In Liberia Unveiled"


Rachan Husen commented in conservative, Thai language Siam Rath (8/13): “The situation in Liberia has developed into another stage when President Charles Taylor has done what he has pledged to do by stepping down and left the country on board the national Nigerian airline on Monday.… Taylor affirmed the latest infighting was not a civil war but a ‘U.S. war’ with his opposition as its tool.  However, Taylor thanked the U.S. for sending in its troops because all the U.S.’ running dogs will now be out of their job....Thus, the U.S. has taken control of another country rich with oil, natural gas and valuable minerals.  It won’t be long before the U.S. spreads its claws to Liberia’s neighboring countries such as Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast.”




INDIA:   "Liberia's Woes"


An editorial in the centrist Hindu asserted (8/16): "Any relief that Liberians may feel over the warlord's departure into exile in Nigeria will be tempered by the awareness that their country faces a very uncertain future. That Taylor has been replaced as President by his comrade in arms, Moses Blah, who has just as notorious a reputation for brutality, might be the lightest of the burdens the nation has to contend with...there is no sign that a more enlightened political leadership capable of helping Liberia recover from over 14 years of external and internal strife will emerge.... The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) must...ensure that the member countries do not spark off another round of war by squabbling among themselves over shares in Liberia's timber and diamond trade....  The U. S. has deployed only a small liaison team thus far. Its new-found interest in West African oil may possibly induce it to opt for a stronger military presence. This is something that must be closely watched."


"Uncertain Liberia"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer editorialized (8/14):  “Charles Taylor's exit from Liberia's presidential office...marks a significant interlude in the history of a nation formed by American slaves in 1822....  Fears of his continuing interference in the affairs of not inspire much confidence amongst those in that country who have opposed his bloodthirsty ways for the last 14 years.  A more effective intervention by the UN is, therefore, needed and, for such a mission to be successful, the parties to the conflict in Liberia must be made to subscribe to international peacekeeping efforts.  What is also required is the presence of professional troops in the ravaged country....  The issue of U.S. involvement in Liberia, however, hangs fire owing to differences between the State Department and the Pentagon.  It is obvious that the ghost of the American peacekeeping mission in Somalia in 1993 continues to haunt the U.S. administration....  Liberia urgently needs a semblance of order, elections without Taylor's presence, and the restoration of civic infrastructure, political institutions and its economy, to end the continuing human tragedy in the West African state.”




CANADA: "Liberia After Taylor"


The leading Globe and Mail opined (8/13):  "The continuing chaos makes clear once again that the United States, which has 2,300 Marines aboard warships off the Liberian coast, should intervene to support a fledgling peacekeeping force led by Nigeria. The West African force is still less than 1,000 strong and has ventured only occasionally out of its base at Monrovia's airport, as it builds to a promised strength of more than 3,000 soldiers. The Bush Administration has been leery of becoming more involved, concerned that it already has its hands full in Afghanistan and Iraq. Liberia is hardly of strategic importance to Washington, but intervention would be the moral act, especially since millions of Liberians anxiously await American help....   As for Mr. Taylor, he should not be allowed to stay long in his new compound in Nigeria. He has been indicted for war crimes in Sierra Leone, and the Nigerian government should send him there for trial."


BRAZIL:  "Accounts To Settle"


Right-of-center O Globo asserted (8/14):  "It's good that Charles Taylor has fled to Nigeria.  The Liberians finally got rid of a sanguine Soba who as a guerrilla chief and president helped ruin Liberia.  But the exile is not punishment enough for a heartless butcher like Taylor.  His place is in Sierra Leone's special court - which accuses him of violating international laws and murdering, mutilating and raping innocents.  Or the International Penal Tribunal, established with huge difficulty precisely to prevent that those responsible for war crimes, genocide and crimes against Mankind enjoy an undeserved retirement."


"The U.S. Double Role In Liberia"


Center-right O Estado de Sao Paulo (8/12) held: "President Charles Taylor's resignation and exile will not end the humanitarian drama in Liberia.... The obstacles to establishing some kind of normality, which would allow the routine of atrocities to stop, are daunting. Vice-President Moses Blah's appeals for peace and harmony will obviously not be enough.  The rebels have rejected him.... On the other hand, troops who are faithful to Taylor have not only refused to disarm themselves, but also promise bloodshed as revenge.... It is crystal clear that the U.S. Marines would be received in Liberia as Washington had imagined them being welcomed in Iraq. The U.S. should perform a central role in bringing peace to Liberia, thereby making up for the mistake it committed in 1985, when Washington recognized as legitimate Sargent Samuel Doe's victory in a fraudulent election."


"A Victory For Africa And The U.S."


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo international policy writer Marcio Senne de Moraes commented (8/12): "The outcome of the Liberian political and institutional crisis constitutes, at least in the short run, an African diplomatic triumph and a U.S. foreign policy success.... Washington, which since the beginning of the crisis has maintained that the African nations must take care of 'their own backyard,' has won a more than vital victory. By betting on Ecowas and keeping warships near the Liberian shore to 'monitor the situation,' the U.S. could have watched a worsening of the conflict as well as bloodshed.  Its strategy, however, worked well. But not everything is perfect. Exiled in Nigeria, the bloodthirsty former president may escape justice. According to experts, African leaders do not permit their colleagues to be judged by international courts, because the same might happen to them later on.... What remains to be defined is the size and the duration of the international peacekeeping mission in Liberia. Without it, chaos will return."


"Peace Will Depend On International Presence"


Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo international writer Marcio Senne de Moraes held (8/11):  "If the international community does not commit itself to maintain for some years a considerable peacekeeping force in Liberia, the chances for a successful peace process are minimal....  The end of the Taylor era is expected to reduce regional tensions....  The international peacekeeping force currently in Liberia is expected to supervise the ceasefire, but with only a few hundred troops it is not prepared to consolidate peace....  The U.S. really does not seem willing to get involved in the Liberian crisis....  Since the European Union is not inclined to intervene in Liberia either, the Liberians' hope of living in a less troubled nation may be fleeting."


MEXICO: "Liberia"


Academic Gabriela de la Paz asserted in independent El Norte (8/13): "Liberia’s history resembles more the history of any of its neighbors than the one that contributed to its foundation (the U.S.): democracy is less than a mask and Liberia’s governors have distinguished themselves by their cruelty and greed. Charles Taylor, to mention the last one in a long line of tyrants, is one of the worst plagues of humanity, although he is not the only one.… Saddam Hussein and his deceased sons are innocent and celestial in comparison to Charles Taylor and his son, Chuckie.… Unfortunately, there is no ideal solution to resolve the problem in Liberia. In order to take Liberia to a status similar to Egypt and South Africa, there would be high political and economical costs that neither the U.N. nor the U.S. in its role as a world empire, nor anybody would be willing to finance.”


"Freedom Is Not Enough"


Juan Pedro Orio observed in independent El Norte (8/18): "Freedom without principles leads to the struggles that we witness today in Monrovia’s streets.  A world guided by a freedom that doesn’t even respect the Law of God can become a battlefield at the expense of poor people who will continue to suffer at the hands of those who use them to justify their interests in power.“



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