Liberia has no strategic value for the US. If we go in it will be the type of humanitarian intervention that this administration used to mock Clinton for.
All the talk about being careful is because we are now back to nation building and Bush needs to sell it.
Since Liberia is not worth anything to the US (strategically) you will see a whole lot of talk about caution and exit strategy.
While in Iraq it was just a bunch of begging to go, and go now. The difference is that Iraq was supposed to be this dire threat, now with that being a tough sell Iraq is now a place where liberty was wanted.
The duplicity is that places such as Liberia need it more than Iraq, people would not suspect our motives and they actually welcome us.
But since there is no strategic value in Liberia we see talk of caution.
It's a sick world.
You sure Liberia has no strategic value? The final paragraphs of my last post seem to indicate otherwise...
...specifically, oil and politics. The only two things this administration seems interested in.
"This Admin" is actually quite split on the issue. State types are hoping for a go while some others are against it.
We'll prolly go, but if so it will be because of a perception that this is an easy, well-defined humanitarian role. I consider the "for oil" argument ludicrous.
All administrations are interested in politics, being politicians and all...
Snide and dismissive. Not uncharacteristic, sadly.
An increased supply of natural gas is a cardinal part of Bush's energy program. That in turn would mean carrying frozen natural gas across the ocean on special liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers and building ports and processing stations. This is a highly controversial venture because an LNG explosion, either accidental or deliberate, would be devastating.
Any sort of regular LNG tanker operations across the Atlantic from West Africa to the East Coast inevitably would be accompanied by vastly increased military operations in the sea and air to protect the fuel from terrorists' attacks.
Finally, Bush's foray into Africa carries meaning for his re-election campaign. The religious right is taking credit for getting the president into Africa. Moreover, for 20 years the GOP right wing has drooled over the idea of breaking the Democratic Party's grip on the black vote. Despite all his talk, Clinton did little for Africa, and indeed had to apologize for not acting in the Rwanda disaster. Should Bush actually get seriously involved in combating AIDS and poverty, and if he succeeds in stabilizing West Africa, he may at long last begin the process of pulling black votes from the Democrats.
"no strategic value"?
Why, I beg to differ.
I understand that you beg to differ. I simply disagree. It's ludicrous to raise the silly "for oil" excuse and I really wish such stupid connections weren't a part of politics.
Yes, Africa could supply some resorces to the US. Just as anyone with said resources could. The proposed mission has nothing to do with that and represents no gain as far as strategic resources go.
Sure getting a segment of the vote is a goal for any politician. But as their position in regard to AA etc attests they have other interests as well. Some, as to be expected, conflict.
You are exhibiting flexibility of the greatest magnitude when you try to pain a Liberian intervention as opportunistic. A Liberian intervention costs the admin a bit of the political capital they could have used for other actions thay are more interested in. Hence teh trepidation.
Going into Liberia makes sense because it clearly has a situation taht needs change and most of teh world agrees. The peopel want it and it can be an easy mission.
To paint it as "about oil" is simply ludicrous. This is a conflict that has been avoided for years and that getting into has required goading. This is a conflict of the variety that many in this administration have derided in the past.
Your arguments strech the definition of "evidence" to a most bassic word association game.
Yes, you can win political browie points by doing a good thing. No duh. Getting involved in fighting AIDS and poverty is a good thing. But of course to you, it's just a political move to get the black vote and is about oil.
Partisan extremism is daft.
I agree with Craven.
There may be oil and space for internal politics associated with Liberia, but it has not the strategic value of Middle Eastern nations.
The quantity of oil, the international level of finance moved by the Arab world and the presence of Israel in the Middle East make the difference.
Plus, the Liberian warlords pose no threat to the American cultural and political expansion.
I also think Craven is right on target on this one. There's a big difference between Iraq and Liberia. Not only about oil and geography, but because Iraq has a much higher literacy rate and per capita income. If we are failing at educating our own children, how in the hell are we going to help educate Liberians? c.i.
Well, I would certainly like nothing more than to agree with all of you.
But believing this trip to Africa is all altruism on Bush's part--the 'slavery is a crime' speech, more money for AIDS, etc., etc.--is what's 'daft'. And naive.
These liars long ago lost any benefit of the doubt with me. Or haven't I made that clear in my other posts here :wink: ?
(Doesn't Pat Robertson have a diamond mining contract with the Liberian government? And hasn't Taylor been implicated as an al-Qaeda sympathizer? Let's see, that would mean that, though no link between Saddam and Osama has been verified, we can
say that there is a link between Pat Robertson and Osama...
Not everything is altruism just as not everything is devoid of it. I'm not trying to make the case that any politician is an honest upright sort. Just that Liberia is a place where the US has little strategic interest and the hawks generally pooh pooh this sort fo intervention as "social work as foreign policy".
Many hawks are quite against an intervention in Liberia. It's the more social work type state folks who are for it.
This is the very kind of foreign policy that the admin came in swearing it would avoid.
Where I see duplicity is in the admin's less than Iraqesque eagerness to bring relief to Liberia, a place that needs it more than iraq did.
If they intervene I'm sure there are many reasons, some perhaps self-serving.
But I would still think it would be largely for humanitarian reasons. And anytime someone does something good in public it can be questioned as to whether it was for brownie points.
I can tell you what goes on in their heads but I can say that the political and strategic rewards for an intervention in Liberia don't point toward a go that easily.
It points at a "this is a place we can help but will it hurt us strategically or politically?"
The caustion Bush exhibits is to judge whether this is a possible political trap. He doesn't need Liberian oil, he'd probably liek to intervene but only if it doesn't hurt him politically with accusations of stretching the military too thin and the administration's reluctance for humanitarian foreign policy in regard to US deployment.
Clinton's big mistakes were in his willingness to commit initially and then be forced to back off if things go badly and there is no political capital for the endeavor.
Bush uses his political capital wisely and he'll go in "with an exit strategy" and such. The main difference is the willingness to take on these thankless type missions.
Clinton would take 'em on quickly and sometimes the populace was not sold on it.
Bush would rather not take on such humanitarian missions but he's smarter about getting his political capital first.
An intervention in Liberia is good for most liberals. It wastes a bit of Bush's political capital.
Some dumb headlines are already saying idiotic stuff like "Are we picking another fight?" and such. We aren't, but that's the type of headline taht takes political capital away from Bush's ability to pick another fight, with say, Iran.
The real hawkish sorts have quite a few who oppose this intervention for lack fo strategic value and because of the cooperative signal it would send to the UN, which they'd just as soon keep spiting.
As near as I can figure, Liberia's natural resources consist of iron ore, timber, gold, diamonds, rubber, cocoa, coffee, and hydro power. They have no native petro industry.
Mineral production in Liberia consisted mainly of artisanal
recovery of diamond and gold. The Government encouraged
investment in natural resource development, although formal
economic activity has been slow to recover since the end of the
civil war in 1997. International exploration increased in 2000
as companies came to Liberia to examine what has been
described as one of the last areas of virtually unexplored rocks
in the world. Eastern Liberia is made up of rocks of Birimian
age with significant potential for gold. Western Liberia is made
up of rocks of Archean age that contain diamond, gold, iron ore,
nickel, manganese, palladium, platinum, and uranium (Mining Journal, 2000b)
In December, Mano River Resources, Inc., announced the
discovery of a kimberlite pipe in western Liberia only 6 months
after beginning its exploration program in mid-2000. The
company's president expected that additional kimberlite pipes
would be discovered and that there was a reasonable basis to
expect some of them to be diamondiferous (Mano River
Resources, Inc., 2000b). Also in December 2000, a United
Nations panel called for an embargo on all diamond exports
from Liberia owing to concerns of their potential involvement
in civil unrest in Sierra Leone, their neighbor to the northwest.
This action by the United Nations followed previous bans on
diamond exports from Angola and Sierra Leone
Mano River Resources, Inc., made several announcements of
gold discoveries in 2000. In May, Mano River, announced that
drilling had intersected gold mineralization at its Gondoja
property (Mining Journal, 2000c). In July, Mano River
announced discoveries of gold on its Weaju and King George
Larjor properties, both of which are located in western Liberia.
Resources at Weaju were estimated to be around 660,000 t at a
grade of 10.9 grams per ton (g/t) gold (233,000 ounces of
contained gold), and those at King George Larjor were
estimated to be 4.1 Mt at a grade of 4.6 g/t gold (610,000
ounces of contained gold) (Mano River Resources, Inc., 2000a,
2000c). Other companies with gold interests in Liberia in 2000
were Freedom Gold Ltd. of the United States and Haddington
International Resources Ltd. of Australia.
Liberia does have a few refineries, which process imported petro product for both domestic use and commercial export. Liberia imports all of her domestic consumption petroleum. For further reference, here's the DOE's Energy Production Information Sheet for Liberia. No petroleum production is tabulated for the nation. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/world/country/cntry_LI.html
I was going to ask PDiddie to come up with anything more specific than "West Africa" when making the case this would be about oil ... there's a lot of countries in West Africa, y'know.
I mean, like - there's gas in Holland, but noone would suggest that if America invested or intervened in, say, Italy, it would be because of how "West Europe might well emerge as a major supplier to the U.S. of natural gas". The quote PDiddie posted - twice, even - poses mere associative evidence, and that doesnt suggest a whole lot of sincere interest in the actual region.
While Bush may sometime seem to be journeying across the world to further ever the same, national, agenda of his own, I guess some of his detractors also only ever see their national, Bush-focused, agenda, no matter which country of the world they look at.
Anyway, I see that timber already followed up with more detail ...
Now, the funny thing is that PDiddie could have made his point more convincingly about Nigeria, one of the states Bush is visiting. A rare visit of an American head of state is, after all, a trophy; a ticket, the host country will hope, to diplomatic support (or interest, at least), financial assistance, economic investment. When the American administration selected the countries Bush will visit, it did not pick arbitrarily - it is a well-considered reward that is awarded. So why is he going to a country thats wrecked by civil conflict, political violence, environmental catastrophe, human rights abuses and rampant corruption, and where the percentage of people living on less than a dollar a day has gone up from 27 to 73 since 1980? Hardly the kind of example of good practice you'd want to highlight? Oil may well play a role there - Nigeria is after all the largest oil producer in the continent.
Most of the newspaper reports here do point out America's need to find new oil suppliers outside the Middle East - outside the zones of possible boycott and conflict. (Most oil in Africa is sourced offshore, and can thus be better relied on even if there is war or conflict in the area). And sub-Sahara Africa's oil production is rapidly increasing - there isnt a region in the world where drilling for new oil has been as succesful in the past 10 years as there. The American vice-minister for Foreign Affairs Walter Kansteiner called it "irrefutable that African oil has become of national strategic interest for us", while the National Intelligence Council predicted that the share of sub-Saharan Africa in American oil-imports would increase from 16 to 25% before 2015. So, yes, oil does play a role in Bush's Africa-visit overall.
Just when we're talking Liberia - the reasoning that the US would go into that wasps nest of unparallelled chaos merely to, what? gain brownie points with Nigeria, which has asked them to do so, so as to later perhaps profit more easily from Nigeria's supply of oil? - sounds rather contrived to me.
Also, even when we are talking about Bush's Africa-visit in general, oil can only be defined as one out of many elements that play a role. There are many other motivations, even if, no, most of them probably are not humanitarian of character.
Africa is considered a dangerously lawless continent, which in these times of globe-trotting terrorists with Washington on their mind is less tolerable than it used to be. The fight against Al-Qaeda surpasses any other motivation (and Taylor's apparent association with it surely does play a role in any possible US interest in a Liberian intervention). Washington is demanding of African governments that they adopt stringent anti-terrorists laws. Caving in to its pressure, Kenya for example has adopted a law that stipulates it to accept any request of extradition it receives when it comes to suspects of terrorism, while defining terrorism as "the use of a threat that is meant to promote a political, religious or ideological cause" [re-translated] - an extremely liberal definition.
In further response to the renewed enmity it faces around the world, the US might be eager to extend the scope of its direct control in regions where it still can. The American Chief Commander in Europe for example, general Jones, just this weekend said that the US are striving to expand their military presence to North and sub-Saharan Africa.
Add these to possibly more idealistic (religiously inspired?) motives concerning poverty, AIDS, etc, and you have a potpourri of motivations.
Even in the case of Nigeria, to go back to that example. Oil, yes. But Obasanjo is also a relatively democratically elected president in a country where the above-mentioned political violence would for many rulers have been excuse enough to install a dictatorial regime. Furthermore, though enough of the violence takes place amongst his fellow-Christians in the South, Obasanjo also presides over a country that is being separated in two, North and South, along tribal/religious lines - with the North being claimed by Muslim leaders who ever more decisively place Sha'ria over common law, and religious authority over that of the political capital. All further reasons for Bush to want to buttress Obasanjo in his position.
So - its not 'all about the oil'. A potpourri of motivations it is. Now you can do two things with that. Grasp for any un-idealistic motivations you can find in the potpourri and use them to discredit Bush's trip, to take any brownie points from him he might otherwise be gaining with the American voters. In short, consider it as an extension of the national election campaign. Or look at it from an African's perspective and see what opportunities might be taken away from the occassion.
What is Bush promising? What can he be held to later? He earned Bob Geldof's praise as 'taking the most radical approach towards Africa since Kennedy', by promising 15 billion dollar to the fight against AIDS. So how to make sure the promise gets fulfilled? Already, Bush said somewhere that the 15 billion should actually be an 'overall package', to which European and other countries should also contribute - i.e., the US government itself would only supply a part of it. (Never mind that the European countries already run their own support programs). You can only make a credible case in trying to draw Bush back to his promises if you didnt ridicule them in the first place.
Again, the question of which countries he is visiting. Condoleezza Rice remarked, explaining the why and how of the meeting in Senegal, that it is "important to celebrate those countries in Africa that are trying to do the right thing". All agree on that, right? And this is one of the very rare times that a US president goes to Africa to effectively do that. You gotta applaud the intention, and the rare chance that gives for such 'good examples' in Africa to gain the limelight - a positive thing both for their chances of gaining investment and for the image of Africa (and, by extension, even African-Americans) in the West. You gotta applaud it also in order to then ask critical questions about which countries he has chosen to highlight in this way. Botswana, South Africa, fine, Senegal, I don't know. But Uganda? Why was Uganda "rewarded" in this way?
In Uganda, the army is centre stage. Yoweri Museveni first governed 10 years without being elected, then in 2001 was elected in elections rife with violence and intimidation. He sent his army into the neighbouring Congo, without the required parliamentary permission, where the Ugandan soldiers proceeded to pillage the country's resources. Museveni now is trying to have the contitution changed so that he can stay in power even longer. Is this a country that is "trying to do the right thing"?
The irony is all the greater because Uganda borders Kenya, which the President is refusing to visit for security reasons, and which currently loses 13 million dollars a DAY in tourist income because the US is advising its nationals not to go there. Fair enough perhaps, considering the earlier attacks there, but still a sad irony, considering Kenya has just seen a remarkable transition, from one of the most notorious authoritarian regimes in the continent (Daniel Arap Moi's) to a pluralistic democracy with a thus far reasonably free press. A transition absolutely noone had placed much stock in beforehand. Why is the brute next door rewarded instead? Kenya refused to support the American/British invasion of Iraq, even after considerable diplomatic pressure. Uganda was, on the other hand, one of only three African countries - along with Rwanda and Ethiopia - to do so.
Time, I'd say, for someone to ask Condolleezza some critical questions about "countries that are trying to do the right thing" - but then again, you can only try to remind her about what she said if you didnt brush it aside straight away in the first place.
I seem to have digressed again ...
anyone think of a good title for a thread about Bush's Africa visit, in general? If there is one already, perhaps I should move my posts there ... but I can only find "Africa a continent and a basket case" ... <sigh>
How about "Do You Have Blacks in Your Country, Too?"
(Sorry, couldn't resist.)
Thanks Sofia for opening and Craven and nimh and everyone else for contributing to a most interesting and enlightening thread. I knew nothing of Liberia, nor for that matter that Niger and Nigeria were two separate nations before this, so in a sense Bush has contributed to my knowledge.
That's truly all I am willing to give him credit for.
I wear my bias like a fine fedora.
Name the following despot: In 1991, he invaded a neighboring country, where his men committed wholesale looting and massive atrocities. In 1998, he personally met with a senior Al Qaeda operative now listed as one of the FBI's 25 "Most Wanted" terrorists. He is the single greatest threat to the stability of one of the most important oil-producing regions in the world. Saddam Hussein? No, Charles Taylor of Liberia.
Making the case for intervention ... Ryan Lizza in the New Republic: Ace of Diamonds
Marine task force moves closer to Liberia
Friday, July 18, 2003 Posted: 11:22 PM EDT (0322 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A three-ship U.S. naval task force carrying some 2,200 Marines has been ordered to sail from the east coast of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea, in case President Bush orders troops into Liberia.
Pentagon officials stressed the movement is a "precautionary measure" aimed at moving the Marines into a position where they could be more quickly dispatched to the war-torn African country in the event the United States decides to support a West African peacekeeping initiative there.
The task force consists of the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, the amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville, and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall.
The ships carry about 1,900 sailors and about 2,200 Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The Marine Expeditionary Unit includes about three-dozen helicopters and six Harrier jets.
With the American Military being stretched so thin how can they even consider sending American military to a new front. So thin in fact that they are unable to effect promised rotation of soldiers in Iraq. Why I would ask are there troops stationed in Germany and Japan. I am sure if the need arose those countries would be quite capable of defending themselves. It would seem it is past time for the US to redefine it's mission and stop wasting money and human resources by un -needed stationing our military on foreign soil.
From MSNBC-- This is most of the article--
After weeks of delay, the Bush administration finally sent some 200 Marines into Monrovia to support 776 Nigerian troops already there. When two U.S. Harrier fighter jets screamed over the main bridge linking the government and rebel-held sides of the capital, crowds of excited onlookers burst into spontaneous applause, accompanied by gospel hymns and chants of "Thank you, George Bush" and "Thank God, America." The celebration was possible because Liberia's warlord President Charles Taylor had agreed to leave the country (the main demand of rebels who had besieged the capital and subjected its 500,000 residents and about 1 million refugees to random mortar attacks). Taylor's departure was also Bush's key condition for putting U.S. boots on the ground to support a West African peacekeeping effort (which will morph into a U.N. operation by October). Securing the peace now falls to U.N. special envoy Jacques Klein, a veteran American diplomat, who will soon ask the Security Council to place Liberia under U.N. trusteeship
Before writing sentences like
It looks like this was done perfectly. We showed up, peace broke out and the UN is taking over the show.
you'd better look up the latest history/the news from last few months about Liberia and have a look at the UN-charta.