United States President-elect Joe Biden’s nomination of former US Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas Greenfield to serve as the US Ambassador to the United Nations has been warmly received by many Liberians, particularly those with whom she interacted first during her tour of duty as a Peace Corps Volunteer and subsequently as US Ambassador to Liberia.
Ambassador Greenfield served during the tenure of President Sirleaf, with whom she is said to have cultivated a warm and personal relationship. In the opinion of most Liberians, she is expected as a friend of Liberia to help advance the cause of Liberia and Liberians in their drive to build and consolidate their fledging democratic experiment.
However, this newspaper, must caution Liberians that Ambassador Greenfield will place her country’s interests first in all what she does in that official capacity. Her first charge is to represent and place the interests of the United States of America above the interest of any other nation on earth.
One such expressed interest of US foreign policy is championing the cause of democracy and respect for human rights.
For this reason, the United States has actively intervened, especially in Africa, to remove governments considered undemocratic and hostile to US interests, perceived or real.
Former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, arrogantly gloating over the US sponsored bloody removal of Libyan leader Muammar Khaddaffi ecstatically declared:
“We came, we saw, he died”, echoing the words of the Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar in a message to the Roman senate following the battle of Zelat. Caesar’s exact phrase was “Veni, Vidi, Vici which translates as “I came, I saw, I conquered”. What did she conquer-Libya’s oil resources?
Khaddaffi died at the hands of his US sponsored enemies but at great cost to Africa. His killing has since unleashed hordes of fighters, jihadist elements along with a flow of weaponry of all kinds southwards into sub-Saharan Africa, particularly West Africa.
The countries of Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Nigeria have faced and are today combating jihadist inspired insurgencies that threaten the peace and stability of the entire West African sub-region.
Coming back to home, Liberia, established by former slaves from the United States, is perhaps the only country in Africa that shares direct blood ties with the US and perhaps also the only country in Africa in which US military intervention has been a given for about 200 years, according to Oxford University professor, Dr. Niels Hahn.
According to him, US military power has been the primary influence shaping Liberia’s history and it includes the founding of Liberia — the purchase at gun point of Cape Mesurado by US Navy Captain Robert Stockton, the protection of the country during the European colonialization of Africa and “multiple covert operations in securing US-friendly administrations in Liberia and direct military interventions to secure American interests in the region”.
Within this context, it remains to be seen how the influence of Ambassador Greenfield will significantly shift US policy towards Liberia and Liberians especially in their search for accountability for past abuses and respect for human rights and the rule of law.
For example, ten (10) years after the completion and submission of the TRC report, there has been no appreciable movement on the part of successive US administrations to help Liberians address the question of impunity.
This is irrespective of the fact that 250,000 Liberians were killed, hundreds if not thousands of foreigners (West Africans) were taken as hostages and killed by the NPFL as well as five (5) American nuns whose lives were also brutally taken away.
Surely, the United States with all its might and power could have brought its influence to bear on successive Liberian administrations of establish a War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) to address the country’s 14-year legacy of gross and wanton human rights abuse.
During her tour of duty in Liberia, Ambassador Greenfield appeared not to display that kind of commitment to helping Liberians overcome the tragic legacy of 14 years of bloody civil war attended by egregious abuse of human rights.
Instead, Ambassador Greenfield appeared to have been taken by former President Sirleaf’s insistence that the establishment of an accountability mechanism (WECC) would have led to the opening of old wounds, which would have harmed her so-called reconciliation initiatives and significantly altered, for the worse, her so-called “Road Map to Peace”.
Now three years after leaving office, impunity has become more ingrained as evidenced by the rise in political violence and violent crimes, the barbaric murders of official government auditors and a virtual run through the roof of official corruption.
These, in essence, are the fruits of former
President Sirleaf’s much touted generational change. Under her rule, corruption flourished and thrived – 64 out of 66 concession agreements seriously flawed against the country’s interest she approved.
She, for example, publicly declared that she accepted responsibility for the massive theft of over 10 million US dollars and the bankrupting of the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) but has since never made restitution.
And she has since consistently campaigned against the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia. She is, according to reports, visiting the US where she is expected to meet with incoming US officials of the new administration, including Ambassador Greenfield.
Liberians know Ambassador Greenfield as an upright woman with genuine and abiding concerns for the future wellbeing of this nation. But she has limitations (official) that could hamstring her good intentions towards Liberia.
And Liberians rightly suspect that President Sirleaf will be as our people put it “blowing breeze” into the ears of Ambassador Greenfield.
The Ambassador is however entreated to let that breeze come out through the other ear, meaning she should pay no mind to any entreaties to avoid the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia.
There are suggestions from some quarters that Liberia’s quest for accountability has been thwarted by successive US administrations for fear of losing a source of slush funds (Liberia’s Maritime funds) to finance activities which would be extremely difficult to pass through Congress.
Unbelievable, some may say, but little can explain official US inaction and reluctance to bring the killers of the five American nuns to justice when the killers, as well as those who ordered them, are all known to US investigators.
Whatever the case, Ambassador Greenfield’s appointment is laudable. The Daily Observer believes that she will definitely bring a human face to US interests at the UN. Congratulations Ambassador Greenfield!