The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Liberia:
The population is the victim of the war lords

Jul 28, 2003

On July 25, Bush announced that 2,300 U.S. Marines would sail from the Mediterranean to a position off the coast of Liberia. In a week they'd be in a position to support the 1,300 Nigerian troops that are supposed to enter that country.

This announcement came after a week of bloody fighting in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. The city now has over a million and a half residents, or a third of the population of the country.

On June 4, a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone headed by an American, David Crane, indicted Charles Taylor for war crimes, and then a rebel army struck three times into Monrovia, resulting in the displacement of tens of thousands of people and mass suffering.

On July 21, Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, was viciously bombed, causing almost a hundred dead, most among the civilian refugee population in the capital. The "rebel" troops of LURD (Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy) encircled and bombed the capital in order to get rid of the dictator Charles Taylor, who had himself proclaimed "president" after the rigged elections of 1997.

The majority of the inhabitants of Monrovia today are peasants driven out of their villages by fighting. They pile into the working class neighborhoods of the city in catastrophic condition, without shelter, without food, without water. Taken hostage by the young child soldiers, robbed and then massacred by the soldiery of Charles Taylor or the rebel forces, this civilian population is the first victim of the bloody confrontations between "official" or "rebel" armed bands.

The dictator Charles Taylor, indicted for crimes against humanity and surrounded by troops that remain faithful to him, continues to cling to power, although he is being ostracized by the "international community," that is to say, by U.S. and French imperialism. Only a few years before, he was in good standing with the same powers, after he had hoisted himself to power at the price of a terrible civil war, which caused more than 200,000 deaths in the 1990s.

The different factions in this civil war used ethnic demagogy to build an armed base, while trying to impose their dictatorship over the whole country, including over their own ethnic group. These conflicts spilled over the national boundaries into the neighboring countries. The warlord opponents of Taylor set up bases in Sierra Leone, Guinea and the Ivory Coast. Taylor in turn supported forces inside these countries against the regimes of these countries. In Sierra Leone, Taylor's forces supported rebels who were soon engaged in a fight for the Sierra Leone diamond region, killing, raping and cutting off the limbs of tens of thousands of civilians.

Everyone knew the role that Taylor played in the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Everyone knew of his involvement in the traffic of "bloody diamonds" coming from Sierra Leone, and his involvement in attempts to destabilize the regimes in the Ivory Coast and Guinea. But so long as he could impose "order" on the country, the U.S. and other imperialist countries accepted him.

Now, however, the U.S. has another interest: it wants a bigger foothold in Africa, itself rich in oil, particularly with the problems the U.S. might someday face in maintaining its control over the oil rich Middle East.

Even if various Liberians call for U.S. armed intervention to stop the killing, the entire history of the U.S. in Liberia shows that its concern has only been to protect the business interests which plunder the country. Over the last decades the United States has been an accomplice in the violence that tore apart Liberia. If Bush sends in the Marines, it will only be to suppress the Liberian people, not to better their condition.