Hillary Clinton, in Liberia, targets good government
The country, led by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has made significant strides since its brutal civil war ended in 2003.
(Page 2 of 2)
Throughout the cold war, Liberia was a trusted US ally surrounded by nations that embraced the socialist vision of the Soviet Union, and even today, many African leaders regard the US and its proposed military ties with African nations – under the new African Command, or Africom – with great suspicion. Sirleaf is the great exception.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
"[We] all must acknowledge that security and development are inextricably linked," Sirleaf wrote in a July 2007 opinion column. "There is no greater engine for development than a secure nation, and no better way build a secure nation than through building professional militaries and security forces that are responsible to civilian authorities who safeguard the rule of law and human rights."
"Liberians can only hope that the United States will use Africom to raise standards for engagement and help change "the way of doing business" in Africa," she added. "Africom is undeniably about the projection of American interests – but this does not mean that it is to the exclusion of African ones."
Faced with thundering opposition throughout the continent, the Pentagon abandoned plans of setting up permanent bases in Africa. It augmented its current temporary base at France's Camp Lemonier in Djibouti; Liberia's neighbors – notably Nigeria – indicated that they would not welcome an American military base in the neighborhood.
Emira Woods, a Liberian-American and codirector of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, says that an American base in Liberia would be damaging to Liberian democracy.
"Basing Africom in Liberia will put Liberians at risk now and into the future," she wrote in a report. "Liberia's national threat level will dramatically increase as the country becomes a target of those interested in attacking US assets. This will severely jeopardize Liberia's national security interests while creating new problems for the country's fragile peace and its nascent democracy."
Follow us on Twitter.