July 13, 2003 - Jonesboro Sun: RPCV Charles Hartwig says Liberian aid needed now

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2003: July 2003 Peace Corps Headlines: July 13, 2003 - Jonesboro Sun: RPCV Charles Hartwig says Liberian aid needed now

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 13, 2003 - 8:09 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Charles Hartwig says Liberian aid needed now





Read and comment on this story from the Jonesboro Sun on RPCV Charles Hartwig who says Liberian aid is needed now. You may say there are humanitarian disasters and crises all over the world, but there are not many which are in a city named after an American president, not many which have ties to the American African-American community," Hartwig said. "We are being begged by the Liberians, unlike Iraq and other places. Even (Liberian President Charles) Taylor says he wants America there," he added.

Some might have a problem with the fact that Taylor was elected as president in a "relatively free election, but this elected president is now an indicted war criminal. That thing kind of changes the scenario a little bit," Hartwig said. These charges stem in part from Taylor's association with the rebel group, RUF. "Those are the ones who specialize in hacking off the arms of 3-year-olds .... (They) carried brutality to new extremes," Hartwig said, adding that Taylor is also believed to be responsible for civil unrest in neighboring countries. Read the story at:


Liberian aid needed now, expert says*

* This link was active on the date it was posted. PCOL is not responsible for broken links which may have changed.



Liberian aid needed now, expert says


By Kellie Bardis

United States involvement in Liberia is long overdue, said Dr. Charles Hartwig of Jonesboro.

Hartwig, a professor of political science at Arkansas State University, spoke to The Jonesboro Sun about the present situation in the West African nation, founded by freed men and American ex-slaves in the 1800s. Hartwig spent several years in Liberia as a Peace Corps volunteer in the 1960s and then as a Fulbright Scholar teaching at Cuttingham University College in the mid-1980s. He is also a member of the Friends of Liberia.

President Bush has recently come under international pressure to intervene in Liberia, which has been entangled in civil war for nearly 14 years.

"You may say there are humanitarian disasters and crises all over the world, but there are not many which are in a city named after an American president, not many which have ties to the American African-American community," Hartwig said.

"We are being begged by the Liberians, unlike Iraq and other places. Even (Liberian President Charles) Taylor says he wants America there," he added.

In the early 1990s an effort for peace in Liberia was put on hold because of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

"There were bigger fish to fry -- Kuwait and Iraq, and Liberia was left hanging out to dry. That's when the West Africans ... in desperation decided 'We're not going to get any help from the U.S. and the U.N. now. We've got to do something ourselves.' So they set up their first -- under Nigerian leadership -- peacekeeping force," Hartwig said.

Taylor came to power in similar circumstances that the country is being faced with now -- "rebel armies besieging the capital of a holed-up, embittered and defensive president," Hartwig said. He became the country's strongest warlord before being elected president in 1997.

"After, I believe it was 13 failed peace agreements, on number 14 they finally had a cease fire. Under international supervision they had an election in 1997. He ran and won. His major platform apparently was 'Vote for me or I'll start fighting again.' It worked," Hartwig said.

Some might have a problem with the fact that Taylor was elected as president in a "relatively free election, but this elected president is now an indicted war criminal. That thing kind of changes the scenario a little bit," Hartwig said.

These charges stem in part from Taylor's association with the rebel group, RUF.

"Those are the ones who specialize in hacking off the arms of 3-year-olds .... (They) carried brutality to new extremes," Hartwig said, adding that Taylor is also believed to be responsible for civil unrest in neighboring countries.

Taylor has said he will step down once the Americans arrive and is seeking temporary asylum in neighboring Nigeria.

"This guy is pretty tricky. He has a long record of breaking agreements. But I don't think he has a whole lot of choice, especially if the Nigerians agree to let him have some temporary asylum. The alternative is to go down swinging, but he's going to go out one way or another," Hartwig said.

Hartwig said he believes the U.S. needs to work with other organizations like the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States.

"It doesn't have to be led by the U.S. just as long as we're part of it in some fashion," Hartwig said. "And that seems to be what's happening right now."

He added that the U.S. involvement should be a humanitarian effort and sending troops may not be the best course of action.

"We need to work closely with ECOWAS and not necessarily put in combat infantry," he said.

Hartwig suggested that the U.S. supply helicopters and airplanes and other supplies to "keep the West African troops on solid footing."

The political science professor also said he believes the U.S. should intervene not only for the humanitarian reasons, but also for trade purposes. Hartwig said the U.S. gets more oil from the African country of Angola than it does from Kuwait.

President Bush is expected to make a decision any day now on whether to send troops to Liberia.
Copyright © 2003, Jonesboro Sun

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7/13/03
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