ShorterLess Long Liberia
Blogging without copy and paste capabilities is hard. My PC is acting up: svchost.exe keeps crapping out, which apparently is preventing me from doing the simplest functions. I don't have the energy to find out more about the executable, nor to struggle with what I'd planned to post. So accept this light entry:
* The NYTimes offers us an op-ed on Bringing Peace to Liberia
: The prospects for an end to Liberia's bloodletting brightened considerably yesterday with President Charles Taylor's resignation and flight to Nigeria. With rebel forces pounding his capital and international pressures mounting, Mr. Taylor finally honored his oft-broken promise to depart. For 14 years, his efforts to gain, then hold onto, power brought endless war to Liberia and unimaginable suffering to its civilians. Although Nigeria has granted him sanctuary, Mr. Taylor must eventually be brought to justice.
Despite optimistic declarations from African leaders yesterday, there is no assurance that Liberia's travails are over.
* Foreign Policy in Focus takes us Beyond the Troops-No-Troops Debate
: The most urgent task facing Liberia--and probably the most important--is the creation of a government capable of undertaking the difficult tasks of rebuilding and rehabilitation. Toward that end, Liberian politicians, including representatives of Taylor's government and two rebel factions, have been meeting for several weeks in Ghana to form an interim government. But these talks are following the same flawed script that between 1990 and 1998 produced four transitional governments, each of which collapsed. First, they are being conducted behind closed doors by many of the same self-selected warlords and political elites who have failed to produce a lasting peace in the past. Second, they have focused on distributing government ministries to rival military and political factions. In the past, this formula has produced an executive branch that is representative and inclusive, but also inefficient and prone to collapse given the rivalries and antagonism it contained. It yields a structure without legitimacy or coherency, both sorely needed for the tasks of national reconstruction.
The Bush administration could help break this cycle by providing diplomatic support and security for the talks to be held in Monrovia, ensuring input from civil society, and scrutiny by the Liberian media.
* Foreign Policy reminds us of some Lessons of the Past
: Nation building...is probably the most complex, costly, and, ultimately, frustrating foreign-policy undertaking. Even for great powers endowed with unsurpassed military strength and wealth, most attempts to rebuild other nations in their own image have historically ended in disappointment.