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A campaign for liberty: The Liberian occupation
By Gennady Stolyarov II
With the situation in Iraq rapidly stabilizing as vestiges of the tyrannical Hussein regime are being efficiently eliminated, the United States has obtained the opportunity to consider another foreign involvement and a commitment of troops, a relatively minor one in comparison to the Iraq War. (The West African nations who will be our primary allies in this mission promise to contribute 3 000 troops and request 2 000 from the United States.) But 2 000 troops implies 2 000 individuals nonetheless, and it must be ascertained that the peacekeeping initiative in Liberia is indeed not a sacrificial offering of global humanitarianism to the UN-enshrining cynics who had opposed America's unseating of the Iraqi terror state and are presently "disillusioned" with the United States' example to the world that a nation can and must unilaterally defend the lives and security interests of its constituency.
As an advocate of Reason, Rights, and Progress, I see two crucial deciding issues on whose answers the necessity of this commitment depends.
The foremost is a dire threat to the liberty of Americans at home and abroad. Since September 11, 2001, through the victorious campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the peacekeeping initiatives in Georgia and the Philippines, America's military policy has followed a course dictated by a need of its very survival, the need to eliminate the colossal and covert infrastructure of al-Qaida and affiliated terrorist organizations. The deposition of the Taliban deprived Osama bin Laden of a sheltering headquarters, while the toppling of Saddam Hussein severed al-Qaida prospects for acquiring weapons of mass destruction from the network's most intimidating state sponsor. Yet, the task looming ahead remains formidable. Bin Laden is not yet apprehended, nor are his fundamentalist minions in Pakistan, Indonesia, and Iran subsiding in their vehement desire to undermine the foundations of global free trade and the rights of man. With the threat to American lives still imminent, it is the obligation of the United States government, as the protector of the people against an imposition of force by wanton criminals, to continue the War on Terror to the utmost of its capacity, undertaking no effort to sap essential men and materiel from the task. Should the Liberian Occupation prove conductive to this endeavor, it is deserving of support as yet another step toward eradicating the terrorist menace. However, should it prove irrelevant to the matter, the result will be the fanatic's fantasy materialized, as the country channels its vigilance away from its continued existence toward gratuitous image-pandering altruism.
It is the possibility of America bleeding some of its ablest and most promising citizens to death on the altar of altruism that brings me to the second matter to be examined. Is there any selfish gain for the United States in this initiative? That is, will the Liberian Occupation result in increased liberalization of the African trade and a more preferable state of access to valuable commodities from the region on behalf of the American consumer? The presence of such commodities will serve a twofold purpose, first, to replenish the U.S. military budget and render it capable of undertaking further terror-crushing campaigns without incurring a loss of funds (and thus a partial loss of capacity), second, to stimulate the economy at home, as the oil from Iraq, which is just beginning to flow, already promises to accomplish. This is a secondary consideration, but nevertheless a significant one. If Liberia should be a barren country and yet pose a security threat, an intervention would be necessary nevertheless, but it will be even more so desirable should any positive stimuli exist for the reinforcement of the global free market, thus increased liberty, thus an increased aversion on the part of Third World fanatics from seeking to undermine the United States.
Is there indeed a link of the regime of Charles Taylor, whose removal the Bush Administration desires, to the terror network? A historical examination will prove that the situation in Liberia was indeed more pivotal to al-Qaida's international sprawl and perhaps to the very possibility of the September 11th attacks than most may have suspected.
The region features a voluminous trade in diamonds, which, under a free market, would have been conductive to a stratospheric boost in the impoverished, war-torn nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone's standards of living. However, in the deadly mix of the gun and the dollar, the gun will ultimately stifle the dollar's beneficent capacities. The entire diamond trade has, over the course of the last decade of the twentieth century, fallen under the grasp of two warlords, President Charles Taylor and Fody Sankoh, the head of the Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone, a pack of rabid insurrectionists whose tactics, according to "American Atheists," include "systematically kidnapping children and forcing them to murder their parents ... Once children [are] conscripted, their loyalty [is] maintained through drugs—they [are] injected with speed, which numbed their sensitivity to violence and rendered them dependent on their adult suppliers—and violence. When conscripts [try] to escape, RUF leaders [amputate] their limbs."
Sankoh, in a recent concession by pragmatic, compromising, value-abdicating West African and American negotiators (most prominently Jesse Jackson), has been instated as Vice-President of Sierra Leone and executor of Sierra Leonean diamond mines, after turning the country into a rampant bloodbath, similar to the upheavals present today in Liberia. Liberian diamonds have been almost solely able to sate the RUF's financial needs, as Taylor siphoned his (nationalized) mining industry's profits to furnish supplies and provisions for the murderous beasts (one cannot call the RUF human, not in any legitimate sense of the term, which denotes rational beings or beings with the capacity toward reason).
Taylor possessed more than the necessary means in 2001 to coordinate a "diamond-buying spree" worth $20 million on the part of Bin Laden's personal agents, who furnished Taylor himself with at least five percent of that sum for providing them shelter and refuge, in the weeks following the September 11th assault, within a protected region of Liberia. But even beforehand, in 1998, Ahmed Abdullah, a top al-Qaida member, met with Taylor's representative Ibrahim Bah in Monrovia to purchase diamonds for resale and the funding of the sabotage of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. These assaults marked a new period of frenzy for al-Qaida's designs against the United States, and were it not for the stimulus from this success and Clinton's blundering, wavering, futile several-missile strike against aspirin factories in response, it is questionable whether the terrorists would have dared to assail the two most prominent symbols of capitalism on the American homeland.
All this unequivocally renders Taylor a state sponsor of terror, a man deserving of far more severe retribution than the impending safe haven in Nigeria promises him. Moreover, twenty (or nineteen) million dollars for an organization that has been able to stage the single most devastating terror attack in world history with a pair of box-cutters and several thousand dollars' expenditure on flying lessons, is equivalent to a Bill Gates-sized fortune for anyone else. Charles Taylor has contributed heftily to the terror network's continued viability, and it is necessary that he, and the network, not possess such a venue any longer.
Moreover, Taylor is not merely an economic sympathizer with al-Qaida, he is an ideological sympathizer as well, as illustrated by his fervid embrace of religious fundamentalism and theocracy. "The Religious Freedom Report on Liberia issued last year by the U.S. Department of States that while Liberia's constitution provides for freedom of religion and does not endorse on paper a particular faith, government ceremonies invariably open and close with prayer and may include the singing of hymns. The prayers and hymns usually are Christian but occasionally are Muslim." Moreover, according to Amnesty International, Taylor's regime "routinely imprisons, tortures, and rapes citizens for offenses like participating in peaceful demonstrations." Ideologically, Taylor subscribes to the same principles as the America-haters, that man's mind must be forced to accept dogma preached from the pulpit of the State by "true believers," that man must not be permitted to discover truth via the functions of his own volitional consciousness, that he must be brutally suppressed should he seek to do so, or criticize those who forbid him. Taylor's motives for supplying al-Qaida terrorists with massive funds are lucid; he, the expropriating parasite, is as greatly endangered by the spread of freedom as they.
The first area of analysis has been answered in the affirmative. Indeed, there exists a crucial link between Taylor and al-Qaida, which has played a pivotal role in substantiating previous designs of the terror network against American lives. We have no guarantee as of the present, with the escalating Taylor-fueled turmoil in Liberia spilling into another bloodbath, that the statist redistribution of wealth to America-haters will not continue. Taylor's regime must at least be deprived of the opportunity to wield Liberia's substantial wealth in diamonds, although it would be preferable for the man to be tried as a war criminal (there is already an indictment against him). While the Nigerian asylum will be offered him without recognition of the possibility of extradition, the United States will be able to more aptly vie for this option once its troops are in place to enforce it if need be. Once Liberia is firmly out of Taylor's hands, the man himself will cease to enjoy the protected post of dictator and become significantly more vulnerable. A historical case in point is the apprehension of Slobodan Milosevic by the administration that succeeded him, a year after his removal from office, a year after a resolute declaration by the Serbian government that he would not be handed over to the International War Crimes Tribunal.
Presently, we move to answer, with relative brevity, as the foundations of this matter have already been laid, the question of the existence of positive economic stimuli for the Liberian Occupation. Our key lies in that same commodity that had enriched our foes: diamonds. Just as, in Iraq, Saddam Hussein had enjoyed a coercive state monopoly on oil, so does Taylor, and far more stringently, control the entire volume of Liberia's diamond trade. Just as Saddam Hussein's oil exports had faced (limited) international sanctions, which were lifted following his deposition, so does Taylor's regime incur a boycott on the part of the United States and Britain, which is detrimental to the availability of diamonds to the consumer. Just as the Iraqi state monopoly on oil was replaced by prosperously competing international corporations, so will that of Liberia.
With an increase of the supply of diamonds on the world market, especially after the present boycott is lifted (and it can be conceivably lifted only in a post-Taylor Liberia), price, by simple economics, will plummet. Diamonds, the most durable and lustrous of gems, will still be objectively in as high a demand as ever. It is not their price, but their quality, that forges their prestige. Such an economic link with Liberia will furnish long-awaited competition to the virtually monopolistic (on an international scale) DeBeers, whose lack of formidable challengers renders current diamond prices monstrously inflated in comparison to their natural supply. Moreover, it will gain the United States a commercial foothold in the African continent, a renewed interest in harnessing a land so abundant in resources and so devoid of reason. As American entrepreneurs settle in Liberia, as trans-Atlantic commerce blooms, the inevitable effect will be to boost standards of living locally and regionally, and spur on the development of idly spoiling raw goods in adjacent countries as well. This may even, in the long term, lead to the formation of an entrepreneurial middle class of Africans, something the continent had never previously developed. Under conditions overtly demonstrative of the beneficence and tranquility of capitalism, the African populace, which had known naught but bloodshed and deprivation under statism, will be swayed beyond further doubt as to whose way of life is objectively proper, who should be scorned as the infidels and who lauded as the heroes of industry.
The Liberians themselves, as vividly demonstrated by their placards inviting "President Bush and his troops" to relieve them of the sufferings of ruthless dictatorship, will benefit immeasurably in the realm of their individual and property rights, no longer fearing the daily terrorization of a faction-torn civil war in which over three million have already been displaced from their homes. The fact that they will be granted enforcement of their inalienable rights is a pleasing one, and a superb side effect of the intervention. Yet it alone could never have been the justification for its undertaking. The Liberian Occupation must be a primarily selfish endeavor of self-defense on the part of the free world against dogmatism and totalitarianism, against statism and monopolism, against feudalism and tribalism, whose entrenched remnants yet pose as monstrous a threat as ever to the beacon of global liberty and progress.
American Atheists, #1074. "Televantelist's pal Charles Taylor again linked to al-Qaida money laundering, conflict diamonds." December 31, 2002
Glenn McKenzie, Associated Press. "Taylor Accepts Nigeria's Offer of Asylum." July 6, 2003.
G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent philosophical essayist, poet, writer for Objective Medicine, and Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator at http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/index.html. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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