Transcript CNN International interview with Nigeria's President Obasanjo and Publisher Chido Nwangwu on Democracy and Security Issues

Bush 'monitors' while Liberia is murdered

Special to USAfrica The Newspaper, Houston, and The Black Business Journal

This commentary by USAfrica's Founder appeared in the Houston Chronicle's op-ed page on July 29, 2003. It is also available at

"Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Whenever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, that place must -- at that moment -- become the center of the universe."

Elie Wiesel, recipient of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace seems to have had President George W. Bush and the humanitarian disaster in the war-battered West African country of Liberia in mind when he spoke those remarkable words. Since the decision by Bush last Friday to station a warship "off the coast" of Liberia, thousands more have been killed and maimed by the war.

The Bush administration's approach to the daily slaughter and destruction of Liberia is increasingly disgraceful and lacking in reasonable moral purpose. Bush's pussyfooting on the catastrophe in Liberia does not meet the Wiesel test.

The Bush team is engaged in half-measures in a situation that calls for bold and decisive leadership by the United States. Conveniently, Bush now wants the United Nations to take a lead role in restoring order and halting the Liberians' self-inflicted destruction of their homeland. The United Nations does not have the means to conduct peacekeeping operations in Liberia.

In an address to the nation on Sept. 20, 2001, Bush said: "Americans are asking: What is expected of us?"

He was speaking of al-Qaida's terror on 9/11. But it seems a fitting question concerning today's Liberia -- Africa's oldest republic and America's only colonial outpost in Africa -- which has been ungovernable since December 1989.

Here's a thumbnail explanation of why there has not been any recent or significant military and humanitarian intervention by the United States in Liberia: Bush has demanded a halt in the local conflict, a cease-fire and that ousted President Charles Taylor leave his country. Only after these requirements are met will the United States send in troops. Until then, Bush says, he'll be "monitoring the situation."

On the other hand, Taylor says he will not leave until international forces step in. Meanwhile, Bush, Nigeria's president, retired Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, and other African leaders, have failed to end the carnage and stop the shredding of all civilized standards in Liberia.

For all the personal and professional fondness persons of African descent, such as myself, feel toward the United Nations' secretary-general, Ghana-born Kofi Annan, and former President Bill Clinton, their failure to intervene early and decisively in Rwanda in 1993-1994 allowed the escalation of the ethnic killings into an orgy of hateful, genocidal slaughter. Recall that within 100 days (April-June 1994), an estimated 800,000 Rwandans (mainly Tutsis) were killed by Hutus. In one day, Monday, July 21, 2003, 600 Liberians were reportedly killed. Yes, one long, dreary day.

Since December 1989, Liberia and Liberians have faced death by installment; wars without end prolonged by armed gangs in two-a-penny-uniforms.

With slaughters like the one July 21 going unanswered, even-handed historians will assess Bush harshly for failing to use the power and influence of the American presidency: the responsibility of doing good by fighting for a good cause.

It will be no less so for Nigeria's Obasanjo, who fancies himself a regional "statesman."

Obasanjo has been condemned five times in four years by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for using Nigeria's armed forces to suppress workers, minorities and students. He should send the soldiers into necessary combat in Liberia instead.

The Liberians are the chief architects of their own problems. But for now, Africans and most of humanity will remember that Bush, Obasanjo, Annan and others were merely "monitoring" the situation on that sad July Monday.

It is never too late for our "compassionate conservative" president.

Chido Nwangwu, recipient of the Journalism Excellence award, is Founder and Publisher of (first African-owned U.S.-based professional newspaper to be published on the internet), USAfrica The Newspaper, CLASS and The Black Business Journal. He has served as an adviser to the Mayor of Houston on international business (Africa) and appears as an analyst on CNN's Inside Africa, VOA, NPR, CBS News, NBC and ABC news affiliates. He travelled with and covered former President Bill Clinton's visits to parts of the African continent during the latter's presidency.
This commentary was first the Houston Chronicle and Archiving on any other web site or newspaper is unauthorized except with a Written Approval by the Founder

While Liberia burned....
Exclusive commentary

The way in which the United States have treated the people of Liberia is simply a low down dirty crying shame. We have sit back and watch as Monrovia has literally burned - and that almost in total silence and blindness. Even while the pleas of the UN and the rest of West Africa and more importantly the Liberian people themselves begged like dogs for the crumbs that fall from a master's table. We waited and waited.  Only now on the eve of a presidential trip to Africa do President Bush shows a reluctant "compassion" or more properly should I say guilt. How could America be so cold, callous, insolent and heartless of one of the few places it colonized?
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