America and our Terrorists
Abdoulaye W. Dukule
When the global hunt for terrorists began a few weeks ago and our President, "His Excellency Dakpannah Dr. Charles Ghankay McArthur Taylor" told the American people that he was ready to put our country on the front line and said breathlessly that he was crying with the American people, we told him that he did not need to go far to find terrorists. A series of articles of the Washington Post gave backing to our story. Indeed, the terrorists in Afghanistan have been in Monrovia, making money and most probably trading arms.
But we have no intention here to revisit the well-documented story of the Washington Post. That story, we hope, will steer some serious thinking in Washington and in New York and help America in shaping her post September 11 foreign policy. Our intention is to look back at what may have made the regime of this Crying-Man possible in Monrovia and what needs to be done to prevent him from continuing to provide a fertile ground for terrorist activities and destabilization, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people and hampering the development process of a whole region.
Another story in the Washington Post of November 5, 2001, deserves a keen analysis. That articles speak of how the US came to accept the birth of the Taliban regime and let it become a terror regime in Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the cries of thousands of Afghan refugees in the United States, the small clique of religious fanatics took over the country and threw it back thousand years at the bottom of the pit. This was possible because American policy was somehow linked to the interest of oil giant Unocal, which was investing billions of dollars in a pipeline. The company, wisely, had hired the likes of Henry Kissinger as consultant.
In Liberia, there was no billion dollar project, but may be just pocket change and ancestral romantic ties to direct American policy. First, there was Lester Hyman, the powerful democrat of Massachusetts who served as Patron of the warlord-to-be Mr. Charles Taylor. Then there was Donald Payne, city councilman in New Jersey and later powerful head of the Black Caucus in the U.S. Congress. After all that, came in Reverend Jesse Jackson, the great international peace broker. Mr. Taylor prefers Jackson to seasoned diplomats like Mr. Howard Jeter and William Twadell, career diplomats who could not be blinded by the masquerade and saw the man behind the mask. He once called to them "burned out" diplomats and said he preferred Rev. Jackson's "negociation skills". Mr. Howard Jeter was President Clinton's Special Envoy in West Africa, dealing with the Liberian crisis in the aftermath of the April 1996 fracas and later U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, replacing Mr. William Twadell, who had served as US Ambassador to Liberia during the IGNU era before going on to Nigeria. And finally, for the creme-de- la-creme, President Jimmy Carter, a good-hearted Southern Baptist, was conned and believed in the masquerade.
It was this connection, linked to the interests of some nostalgic Liberians who dreamed of restoring the Old Order of the Lone Star that brought the current regime in Liberia. There were other connections. Ghana, under President Rawlings, played a pivotal role in the rise of the NPFL. Not that Mr. Rawlings had any interest in Mr. Taylor as a person, but they had friends in common. The link was none other then the Libyans. Long before Liberia, Ghana served as an entry point of Libyan politics in West Africa. It was from Accra that Libyan costal politics were directed in West Africa. When the Liberian peace process moved to Cotonou, Benin in 1993, there were Libyans everywhere in the corridors of the Cotonou Sheraton. They talked to members of the various delegations, trying to find out how particular individuals could weight on certain decision and where the process was headed.
America's tranquility is linked to our instability. America's wealth is linked to our poverty. America's democracy is linked to our dictatorship. Powerful individuals and interests who maintain these links would go anywhere to make a buck or put their faces on a front page as peacemakers. They have created Jonas Savimbi and silently continue to maintain him alive in the jungles of Angola while he butchers his people in the name of dead ideological conflict while filling bank accounts of powerful lobbyists. They help raise a terrorist movement to power in Liberia and now silently look away when things start to fall apart. Was Jesse Jackson a friend of Liberia? Does Donald Payne still care about freedom and democracy in Liberia?
The interdependence of interest in the global village was once perceived as a
naive concept. But slowly, as the hunt for terrorist networks and the trail of money develops, this interdependency is becoming a reality. It is now downing on many that arming or condoning a rogue regime in a Banana Republic at the end of the globe could someday come back to hunt everyone, turn our tranquility into nightmares and disrupt the course of our history.
Liberia and its current nightmare is the creation of people who are still alive. It started in 1980, when in the name of Cold War political reality, an assassin rose to power, to later be ordained powerful friend. Because his country was the most legitimate road to the killing fields of Angola, he was left to slaughter his countrymen. When he was no longer needed, he was butchered like a hoodlum. His execution was choreographed and televised by another, who represented the interests of a few dreaming of revenge and ancestral returns. Now we are all faced with the intangibles of our one world. We are now living in one world of jets, bombs, facsimiles, Internet, diamonds and anthrax, politics and greed.
It has been said that the World will never be the same again after September 11. Let it never be. But how can the king makers of the most powerful country in the world understand that the bad kings they make overseas can commit and will certainly commit crimes that will haunt them?
As the Secretary General of the United Nations is advocating the cause of the people of Liberia, saying that tens of thousands would suffer if timber were put under sanctions, let him know that the 90, 000 people working for the timber industry are a minority compared to the millions of Liberians living in total destitution. Even if that number, seriously disputed by many were accurate, it should not be our concern. His approach sounds like that band-aid approach the international community takes when exploited nations face serious structural problems. The issue in Liberia is not to keep 10,000 (multiplied by 9) working. The issue is to put an end to a crisis that has consumed a whole sub-region for more than a decade, a crisis that took the life of 250,000 and consumed billions of dollars in development funds.
The link between our country and those supposedly sponsoring terrorism is the most known fact in the world. Every one, from Arlington to Zimbabwe knew that the fighters who overthrew Samuel Doe had been trained and financed in Libya. It was no secret to Washington either that after elections, the government of the NPP, against all diplomatic logic, allowed the Libyans to work on a compound right across from the American Embassy to serve as their mission. Everyone remembers that when he was refused entry at the White House, the President of Liberia flew to Libya, on two occasions. After being snubbed by Washington, the Liberian government has sought to cultivate ties with Cuba and Iran, all countries on the top list of sponsors of terrorism according to the US State Department. The Washington Post article on the linkage between Monrovia and possible terrorists does not tell us anything new.
Liberia does not need new sanctions. Because we know that after the interests of the powerful are served, we will be left with our problems. There will be nobody there to help rebuild our Maritime Program. There will be nobody to help us resettle our people. There will be nobody but a few to give us handouts and charity. And we will settle in our poverty, making our exploitation ever easier for other con artists in new clothing. We must break the cycle of lies.
Those who are trying to breakdown the Maritime Program of Liberia are not necessarily helping Liberia. There are ways to correct the wrongs that are going on. One cannot also accuse LISCR for disbursing funds for the Liberian government. The money belongs to Liberia. The government used it as it wanted and should not be accountable to LISCR. The solutions to the Maritime Program are political in nature and Liberians need help in tackling those problems, not closing down the maritime program that it took so many years to build.
Advocating the imposition of sanctions on Liberian round timber in July 2002 is also a mockery of sort. This measure in no way helps Liberia and its environmental concerns. We are now at the beginning of the high season for logging. This gives timber companies 8 months of uncontrolled logging. With the new techniques of tree cutting, the whole of the Sapo Forest, one of the last Rain Forest in the world, could be gone by June. If sanctions are in view, they must be imposed now or never. Again, our national interests are not really served by the timing of these sanctions.
What Liberia and all nations need now is to be part of a new world order. In this new order, people who kill other people to make political gains are all considered terrorists taken to the court of law. In that new world order, terrorists of all countries, black or white, yellow or green forbidden to hold power in any form or shape.
Finally, in this new order, the security, the freedom and the dignity of all people in the Global Village will be respected. The first step to that new world order is a genuine hunt for all terrorists and the raining in of king-makers who have brought into prominence culprits all over the world.
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