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Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Call the police

In Liberia, English is the official language. That's no huge surprise, as it is a country founded by freed American slaves. That colonization, though, happened a long time ago. The country eventually found its way to independence. In recent years, the country has seen some frightening times. Tribal clans rose up againt the ruling party (descendents of American slaves) in a blood bath of a civil war. Then the previously ruling party rose back up, under the leadership of a guy by the deceptively unfrightening name of Charles Taylor.

Most of what I know of the country's history comes from the book Seek, by Northwestern author Denis Johnson , so I won't claim to be overly educated on the subject. But if I've learned anything, I've learned it is a frightening, lawless country.

Things are getting worse in Liberia. It's gotten bad enough that the United States is again considering being the world's police department. I'm seeking an education from my small readership, or anyone who might have run across this blog, on why it is necessary for U.S. troops to police this civil war-torn country.

In Monrovia (the capital city), the people were cheering today as news broke that six platoons of Marines were at the ready in Spain. Those troops could be in Monrovia within six hours of getting the call. Their stated purpose would be to protect the American embassy. I don't fear that as much. It's what comes next (read: Somolia) that gets be all jiggy-legged.

The United Nations believes it should move into Liberia to calm things down. The Liberians (at least those that want the country calmed down) would prefer to have Americans there (because we "have historical interests").

No doubt, the American military might could kncok the stuffing out of Liberian irregulars. But it wouldn't be pretty.

Yes, we should promote, support, and even defend democracy. Yes, we should protect human rights where possible. No, I'm not writing this simply as a response to having seen "Blackhawk Down."

We're in Afghanistan. We're in Iraq and its surrounding countries. We're trading yo-mamas with North Korea. Now may not be the time to play the world's police department.

Maybe I'm being a little ethnocentric. Maybe I'm being callous and too cautious. Maybe I'm ignorant.

If I am, please someone tell me. Because it won't matter if the official language of Liberia is English. Rocket propelled grenades sound the same in any langauage.

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