Friday | July 04, 2003
Liberia won't be easy either
By Steve Gilliard
If the US intervenes in Liberia it faces a series of unpalatable choices.
President Bush yesterday made intervention conditional on the departure of President Charles Taylor, ........ As international pressure mounts for him to step down, Taylor has three options.
The first is to simply abandon power and his base in the gutted capital, Monrovia, and return to the role he relished for eight years as a warlord in the bush. The second is to stay in the capital and fight, risking capture or death. Capture would mean standing trial in a U.N.-backed court, which indicted him June 4 for crimes against humanity. The third is to find asylum in another country, an option that is greatly complicated by the fact that, with his indictment, any country that gives Taylor asylum would be harboring an international fugitive and only the second sitting president to face such legal charges.
"Taylor has no choice but to fight to the end," said one source who worked with Taylor for years. ......
The LURD, supported by Guinea since the group launched its war against Taylor in 2000, also has received the tacit support of Britain and the United States.
"There is not one person who wields real power within the LURD who has clean hands or comes close," said a European diplomat monitoring events in Liberia. "The upper tiers are filled with the perpetrators of rape, looting and cannibalism. We are all supporting an international force, but what will they do if they face 14-year-olds, high on coke, with an AK-47 trying to kill them? Will they kill a child, even in self-defense? Sometimes I think, 'My God, what are we doing?' "
Human rights groups have repeatedly condemned abuses by the LURD. Its fighters have been accused of kidnapping, summary executions, looting, rape and forced recruitment. And the LURD, like most other armed groups in Liberia, has split along ethnic lines, with hostility boiling over among the Krahn, Mandingo and Gio groups.
Well, after a few weeks in Liberia, a posting to Iraq won't seem so bad. Wasted children, shooting wildly with AK's? God, what a sewer and what we created with our racism. West Africa has been a festering boil for years, with the intensely corrupt Nigeria as the most stable state in the region. We made Liberia and now we have to try and fix it.
One can only hope that the application of serious US force will cause the rebels to see the light and avoid AC-130's and the firepower of a Marine battalion. Half drunk rebels with no discipline might soon realize that peace beats being blown away by the gross. And they will be blown away.
Once again, the US has to play policeman with no further strategy in place.