Can the US Bring Peace to Liberia?


The people of Liberia have been ravaged by two decades of continuous civil war. Over 250,000 Liberians have died since 1989.

In a recent article, the Economist stated: “Liberia has rubber, timber and diamonds, but today the main industry seems to be looting” (8/14/03). Different ruling cliques perpetually engage in deadly struggles over control of the government. The victors then bleed the state dry.

In July, President Bush visited Africa, attempting to rehabilitate his “humanitarian” image after the bloody U.S. invasion of Iraq. During this visit, Bush came under heavy pressure from African leaders and world public opinion to send U.S. troops into Liberia to halt the deadly conflict.

The hypocrisy of U.S. “humanitarianism” was quickly revealed, as the Bush administration wavered on sending troops. Meanwhile, thousands of Liberians were butchered with each passing day.

Contrast this to the recent U.S. invasion of Iraq, supposedly in the “humanitarian interests” of the Iraqi people. The missing ingredient that held the U.S. back from intervening in Liberia was that it would not have boosted the power and prestige of U.S. big business. Nor does Liberia have the massive oil wealth of Iraq. The minimal U.S. intervention is only an attempt to maintain the cloak of “humanitarian interventions,” which disguises the real interests the U.S. has in policing the globe.

The corporate media paints the picture that the conflict can now be resolved with the resignation of former president Charles Taylor and the arrival of 1,000 West African troops and a U.S. contingent of 200. However, even if foreign and U.S. troops are able to bring a temporary ceasefire, the underlying contradictions at the root of the conflict will still remain.

The real cause of the unending conflict in Liberia and other West African countries is the chronic underdevelopment of the region. Decades of exploitation of the resources and cheap labor of civil-war-torn West Africa by rich Western countries is to blame.

Socialists oppose U.S., U.N. and foreign intervention into Liberia, whose troops will uphold the exploitation of Liberia by multi-national corporations. This will only sow the seeds for future conflicts. No solution to these hostilities can be found on the basis of capitalism; it can only bring more wars, poverty, and starvation to the people of Liberia.

In July, the Nigerian working class overcame ethnic and religious conflict, and paralyzed the country with an eight-day general strike. The workers and ordinary people of Liberia can bring peace by following this example. Through a united struggle against capitalism to gain democratic control over the resources of the country, the working class of Liberia can put an end to the violence and create a peaceful, socialist society.

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