When Is Our Yalta?

By Bushuben M. Keita

The Perspective

January 31, 2002

It was in February of 1945 when the fortunes of the German and Japanese war machines were changing for the worse, although they still had a lot of fight in them, that three of the most influential leaders of the allied forces held an historic summit at Yalta, on the Crimea in the Ukraine. This meeting, referred to as the 'high point of allied unity', was called specifically to plan the coordinated victory of World War II, as well as to settle possible differences among the cooperating powers. Joseph Stalin represented the Soviet Union, Winston Churchill represented Britain, and Franklin Roosevelt represented the United States. They probably knew by February 1945 that the defeat of Nazism and Imperial Japan was inevitable. What to do with the victory and onwards into the future was, however, another matter.

Each of the powers had separate interests, and clearly their interests conflicted on certain issues. They nonetheless knew that failure awaited their separate agendas if pursued alone. The purpose of the Yalta meeting was to suspend internal rivalries and differences, apportion responsibilities amongst the powers, promise potential benefits after success is achieved, and in general assure everyone that they will have the opportunity to pursue their own programs after the common foe is defeated. As a result of this meeting, the powers agreed on the establishment of the United Nations Organization, Russia went on to become a super power, the United States aided in the rebuilding of Europe and seemingly the entire world is better.

I say the foregoing to remind Liberian politicians of the stakes at hand and to re-emphasize that the opportunity for a display of statesmanship as shown in Yalta, is now before us as we contemplate restoring Liberia to a status where we can all return and pursue whatever separate agendas we may have. My lesson from the Yalta story is that first things come first. Enmity or rivalry among competing political groups is called democracy. The ability to do that without fear of reprisals or suppression is called freedom. Necessarily, freedom is the precursor to democracy, and is the common denominator in the collective interest of all potential parties. Consequently, the temporary surrender of individual ambitions and political plans for the purpose of pursuing the common objective of the restoration of democracy is the logical first step, following the achievement of which the level playing field shall afford us all the pleasure to disagree.

I have followed the politics of some Liberians, including Dr. Amos Sawyer, the former Interim President. I read with appreciation his recent position on moving Liberia forward as contained in his remarks recently addressed to a United States Government official who spoke at a Liberian conference in Maryland USA sponsored by the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia (MDCL). I agree with Dr. Sawyer that a meeting with the ruling NPP in Liberia could be nothing more than a charade as has been the case in the past. I also agree with his well thought out possible scenarios for Liberia. Whatever meeting is being called by members of the international community notwithstanding, Liberians in the Diaspora, need to have one of their own. Let's meet and decide together how to direct our great nation towards recovery as we confront the possibility of elections next year. Can someone please send out the invitations? Now?

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