The Carter Center Should Just Leave Liberia Alone

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There is little public knowledge about a 2011 study conducted by a small research team of graduate students from the Columbia University in New York, who had been assigned to carry out research on the impact of a massive influx of foreign capital into natural resource extraction in Liberia.

But one of such research students, Ashoka Mukpo, author of the article “The tyranny of good intentions” has  lifted the curtain on the report of their findings that was submitted to the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) of the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL), Ellen Løj.

Author Ashoka Mukpo reveals that the SRSG pleaded with them to keep the report under wraps, fearing that its release to the public at a time when elections were just in sight  “might have been used by the local press to force Sirleaf to answer tough questions about the impact of her economic policies.”

Author Mukpo  further observed  that the blue print for post conflict reconstruction in Liberia was prepared in foreign capitals and it was structured on a model which called for auctioning off the country’s land and natural resources and virtually turning the country into a one-dimensional rentier state, hoping that somehow a vibrant domestic sector would emerge out of a rather misty picture.

As the evidence shows, those policy prescriptions have miserably failed. According to Mukpo, the effects of those policies could be readily seen and felt.  Their report outlined that education and agriculture remained largely dysfunctional. It also highlighted the bloody riots at the palm oil plantations and the clashes between security forces and villagers, whilst only a tiny fraction of the jobs and social services promised ever materialize.

The point made by the authors of the report was that, after 15 years of massive aid and direct foreign investment, Liberia appears no closer to achieving development than it was yesterday; that their condescending approach to aid and development assistance smacked of what is referred to as “white saviorism”, by and large shaped and guided the country’s post-war economic strategy and played an outsized role in its present trajectory.

Mukpo  rightly notes,  “structural disadvantages in countries like Liberia make disbursal of aid a life-or-death matter for people and the form it takes can shape politics, sideline or empower talented reformers, and exert far-reaching influence on the lives of those it affects”.

It is within this context that this newspaper views the new “policy prescriptions” recently put out by the Carter
Center calling for changes in the country’s nationality or citizenship laws, land ownership for non-negroes  and respect for gay rights, whatever such is interpreted to mean.

The first point to be noted is that Liberia is not a vassal state limping along at the whims of foreign benefactors, although the conduct of our leaders do tend to suggest. Such was the case of post conflict national leadership  under former President Sirleaf who actually believed in and bought into tailor made foreign policy prescriptions be it from the United Nations, United States of America or wherever.

The history and founding of Liberia is and must be contextually placed in the experience of the middle passage and the severe dehumanization and assaults on their dignity under slavery in America. The inclusion of provisions in the 1986 Liberian Constitution restricting land ownership and citizenship to people of “Negro” descent reflects  the thinking and sentiments of Liberians at the time and can rightly be contextualized within the experience of extensive foreign domination of our economy.

Attempts to change those provisions of the Constitution during the 2011 elections failed as well as the absolute majority requirement for election to public office, although they had been vigorously supported by then President Sirleaf. The virtual auctioning of land and natural resources on the cheap to greedy foreign corporate interests under her watch have invariably served to heighten fears of alienation of local communities from their ancestral lands and served to further entrench and deepened opposition to the abolition or amendment of those provisions.

As regards its call for gay rights, this newspaper holds the view that matters involving the conduct of sexual behavior between two consenting adults in the privacy of their shared space are a matter that cannot and should not be legislated.  This newspaper however frowns on the discrimination of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation.

This newspaper however notes that homosexuality is as old as the human race and effeminate men as well as manly women and hermaphrodites have existed in all societies since the beginning of time, although some claim homosexuality is an imperial import alien to traditional African culture. Suffice it to say various societies and cultures around the world have all evolved their own ways of dealing or coming to terms with it.

In Liberian history, there have been examples of individuals both male and female who, though well known for their sexual orientation had attained heights in society and did not face discrimination or hate on account of their sexual orientation.

The point here is that nowhere is it recorded in human history where homosexuality has supplanted heterosexual behavior to the point where it undermines the ability of societies to perpetuate themselves through procreation. And procreation can be sustained only through heterosexual behavior. Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth is recorded as a command from God to mankind to indulge in sustain heterosexual behavior and practices lest mankind be wiped off the face of the earth.

In this respect Liberians certainly do not require obeisance to Carter Center diktat to shape its conduct of public policy. As Mukpo right notes, “Structural disadvantages in countries like Liberia make disbursal of aid a life-or-death matter for people and the form it takes can shape politics, sideline or empower talented reformers, and exert far-reaching influence on the lives of those it affects”.

In the opinion of most well-meaning Liberians, this country would have fared better had the US government under the watch of President Carter not approved the violent overthrow of President Tolbert. It is about time President Carter and his Carter Center come clean on the dumping of his fellow Baptist President Tolbert in 1980 which opened the stables to violent regime change in Liberia. Simply put, “White Saviorism” is detestable. The Carter Center should just leave Liberia alone.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Junior Stewart , you say that “This newspaper however frowns on the discrimination of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation.” If so, why won’t your newspaper FROWN on the discrimination of persons on the basis of their RACE?? In other words, why do your newspaper support the discrimination of persons based on their race ?? Are you all racists??

    The notion that a man or woman is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the character and actions of a his collective ancestors is racist, and doesn’t deserve any intellectual merit.

  2. Thanks Martin for your wonderful comments. This is just why Black lives do not matter or do they? No duplicate comment this is

  3. Of course, Brother John Stewart’s concluding paragraph should and did arouse my attention. After all, the British and French colonized all ECOWAS countries, except Liberia and Ethiopia, yet their governments haven’t been overthrowing leaders in the sub-Region, not even Sekou Toure of Guinea who had a widely-publicized split with France when his country rejected French overtures and declared independence on October 2, 1958. Which begs the question, why is America, which didn’t contribute to the physical development of Liberia in any meaningful way as these two European powers did for their colonies, so intimately involved in Liberian affairs that their governments have given themselves the full right to order regime-change, through covert aggression, anytime they wish? Do American manifest destiny and exceptionalism include murderously tormenting a small struggling nation? One of of such regime-change findings, reportedly under the recently-deceased Bush 41, culminated in the death of a quarter million people including my mother, who and my father ran away separately from war in Sinoe County as children and refused to run from Monrovia as a great-grandmother?

    Few cynical friends surmise that the answer could be inferiority complexes of Liberian elites, which might have given patronizing American officials the impression that Liberians hate being Liberians. Although it’s a bitter pill, there seems to be no other logical explanation. For granted that Ivorians and Senegalese want to live in France just as Sierra Leoneans and Ghanaians would love living in the UK, it would seem the Liberian is happiest residing permanently and even taking citizenship in the U.S even were Liberia very safe and doing extremely well economically. Or could the fact – as collectively concluded by the various SRSGs – that Liberia was never a nationstate, but a collection of heterogeneous ethnicities yoked together, contributed to negating any sense of genuine patriotism in some of her best and brightest citizens?

    It was reflections on this sword of Damocles a mighty unpredictable world power like the U.S has over the head of poor and tiny Liberia that made few of us state security professionals very pessimistic about the future. Since American-Liberian relationship might endure another century or more, will the omniscient and omnipotent Collosus still possess the right to secretly, through few Liberian collaborators at home and abroad, continue undermining the stability of Liberia at will while openly expressing solidarity with her befuddled and gullible citizenry? Well, most of us are full of hot air, but lack imagination. Because any people with fortitude and foresight facing such continuous national security menace would unite and seek desist commitments once and for all. A house divided cannot stand. Liberia needs America’s friendship, not her secret enmity, for God’s sake!

  4. TO ALL OF THE ABOVE COMMENTS: It appears that we are FINALLY waking up, and getting there! Let’s think about this: the True Whig Party members, a majority group, suffered from an identity crisis vis-à-vis the members of the minority original Republican Party [1847-1870] which was worsened by the Stockholm Syndrone. When the TWP took over [1870-1872=2 years] it FAILED miserably! This led to POWER SHARING [1872-1892]. With no other choice due to their incompetence, President J.J. Roberts, Republican, was re-elected a 2nd non-consecutive term by a ‘Joint Convention’. The TWP later became the ruling party [1892-1980]. Finally in 1971, when President Tolbert attempted to circle back to the vision and policies of the Republican Party, he met bold resistance and opposition from within his own party, etc. Interestingly, our ‘TWP historians’ do not write about these historical facts. The rest is history…

  5. Lets not make unverifiable statements “this country would have fared better had the US government under the watch of President Carter not approved the violent overthrow of President Tolbert.” This was not about the US government it was based on a plot by the military. the indigenous peoples revolted. let us leave it like that without viable proof.

  6. This article makes an unproven claim that the Carter Administration was involved in the violent overthrow of the Tolbert government. However, I would agree that it didn’t do anything to stop the military from executing those government officials. So, yes the Carter Center should stay out of Liberian politics. It’s time that Liberians learn to solve their own problems and live with the consequences of their decisions

  7. The violent overthrowing of a Baptist Preacher ( President William R. Tolbert), while a siting Baptist Preacher (Jimmy Carter), was the principal resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1980, just tells us that even the Bible does not stand before some country interest. In my Government 101 class I was told that when it comes to country to country relation, there is no true friend, but interest. We are the only people that put friendship ahead of our interest.

    If we will be people in our own country, we need to push our interest first.

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