July 9, 2003 - Rocky Mountain News: RPCV William J. Townend Liberian intervention could prove helpful

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Liberia: Peace Corps Liberia : The Peace Corps in Liberia: July 9, 2003 - Rocky Mountain News: RPCV William J. Townend Liberian intervention could prove helpful

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, July 13, 2003 - 9:35 am: Edit Post

RPCV William J. Townend Liberian intervention could prove helpful

1299,DRMN_38_2093526,00.html, RPCV William J. Townend Liberian intervention could prove helpful

Liberian intervention could prove helpful

U.S. involvement in Liberia can be a positive event for both countries if it is done correctly. My concern is that we will not get involved or the involvement will not be done well, based on the record of the Bush administration and of previous administrations. Our years of non-involvement have led to death and destruction in Liberia, destabilization in bordering countries, the establishment of a place that may harbor terrorists, and a place where disease, such as Lassa fever, might erupt.

As a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia in the early '70s I saw a country that was one of the least developed countries in the world, but had potential and was strongly pro- American. Liberia was settled by freed slaves from America in the early 1800s, who became the Americo- Liberians. There were a number of tribal groups in the region that were generally unified in the country I saw in the '70s. It had a constitution based on the U.S. Constitution, English as the official language, the dollar as official currency, a flag with red-and- white stripes and a white star on a blue background, cities named after U.S. presidents like Monrovia and Buchanan, the John F. Kennedy hospital, and the official motto "Love of Liberty Brought Us Here."

Involvement need not be very expensive or life-threatening. President Charles Taylor, who received terrorist training in Libya, has said he will leave if a peacekeeping force is sent in. We need to be involved with the U.N. in coordinating peacekeeping efforts, and delivering aid and development.

The cost is measured in million of dollars, not billions as in Iraq. While there is some risk (several Peace Corps volunteers were killed or seriously injured in the '70s), most of it will be nonmilitary and minimal.

Liberia is one of the oldest democracies in Africa and has the framework to restore democracy once destabilizing elements such as Taylor are controlled. Leaders, such as Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, are correct in calling for U.S. assistance, not only for humanitarian reasons, but because it is in our long-term national interests to do so.

William J. Townend

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Story Source: Rocky Mountain News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Liberia; Speaking Out



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