If there is a logic to Washington's policy on Liberia it is a wellkept secret. In a world with all too many enemies, why would the United States not welcome a country of people that is absolutely unequivocal in its devotion to America and everything American?
For the moment, US policy seems similar to that of a bully standing over a bleeding black man lying in the gutter, slowly bleeding to death. Worse yet, the wounded man is a relative. Instead of reaching out a hand of assistance and helping the man get to his feet so that he can begin to rebuild his life and world, the bully just keeps repeating a litany of demands while doing everything in his power to make it impossible for the bleeding man to help himself.
"Behave as I want you to behave" you say. "Get cleaned up. Stop trying to defend yourself. And then, perhaps, I will help you."
Why do you offer encouragement to a ruthless, Muslimdominated insurgency when the government in Monrovia was elected by a large majority in elections certified to be free and fair? Why does your apparent dislike for the elected president, Charles Taylor, translate into a policy that is plunging Liberians into ever deeper suffering and misery? Surely supporting a fairlyelected leader would be consistent with your policy of defending democracy around the world?
And why support UN sanctions that deny Liberian leaders the chance to travel abroad to defend themselves in front of their accusers and to work for the development of their country? Surely this is not fair play.
And why support UN sanctions that deny the legitimate Liberian government the opportunity to purchase arms to defend itself against a brutal insurgency? Surely selfdefense is the right of both individuals and nations, as enshrined in the US constitution and the UN charter. And why support continuing UN sanctions brought to stop alleged military support for the RUF in Sierra Leone, when that group has already disarmed and participated in the political process?
And why not meet the Taylor government half way when it says it will do whatever it can to meet your list of demands?
Why not recognize that the Taylor government has significantly improved freedom of the press and other important pillars of any democracy?
And why not recognize that your mistake in supporting the regime of Samuel Doe in the 1980s was the mistake of backing a leader who came to power through a bloody coup, not elections, and who proceeded to terrorize his own people. It was his reign of terror that spurred the opposition to take up arms in the civil war.
But, beyond all these considerations, why not take some measure of responsibility for your African orphan? Why not work with Liberia to turn it into a showplace of American democracy and success?
Surely it is time to stop denying Liberia the hand of friendship and succor in the name of a vague set of foreign policy objectives that barely fit the Liberia case and are unquestionably causing widespread suffering for millions of innocent people.
You could intervene to end a specious UN sanctions process, based on unsound policies and information provided by a dubious group of 'experts'.
And, as a minimum, you could state your clear commitment to Liberia as a nation, to the integrity of its borders, to your opposition to armed insurgency and your support for the political process that has already born good fruit and promises more of the same.
Marie Washington is the chairperson of the Liberian Marketing Association.