Saturday, July 12, 2003

Peter Beinart comes out swinging on Liberia 

Quoted from The New Republic:
For an article last week on Salon.com, Laura McClure did something mischievous: She called the leaders of International answer (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and asked why they don't care about Congo. ANSWER, you may remember, coordinated this winter's protest against the Iraq war. But its agenda is far broader than that. As the preeminent umbrella organization of the hard left, ANSWER directs its outrage across the globe. This September, for instance, it plans "International Days of Protest against Occupation and Empire, from Palestine to Iraq to the Philippines to Cuba and Everywhere."

But, as McClure found out, "everywhere" does not include Congo. In fact, it doesn't include Africa at all. answer has organized no protests and issued no statements on Africa's four most ravaged countries--Congo, Liberia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe--although they contain exponentially more oppression and suffering than the four targeted by the group's "International Days of Protest."

Answer is symptomatic of the left in general. A LexisNexis search going back to 2000 finds not a single reference to the crises in Congo, Liberia, Sudan, or Zimbabwe from Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Michael Moore, Michael Lerner, Gore Vidal, Cornel West, or Howard Zinn. In Congo alone, according to the International Rescue Committee, five years of civil war have taken the lives of a mind-boggling 3.3 million people. How can the leaders of the global left--men and women ostensibly dedicated to solidarity with the world's oppressed, impoverished masses--not care?

Being a clear-headed lefty Peter Beinart generally makes me jump-up and cheer with his writing, and this article is no exception. What I particularly like about his reasoning is the emphasis on the Moral Righteousness of the Operation Iraqi Freedom argument. (Isn't it ironic how the undiscovered WMD have those realist dogs who were barking about O:IF being about the national interest running for the security of the Moral argument? And why aren't the liberal-hawks jumping all over this??) Just as O:IF was the morally correct thing to do because we are helping to ensure a better future for those whose suffering we were indirectly responsible for, Liberia is a country with historical ties to the United States that obligate the US to aide it as best we can.

My only objection would be a logistical one. I don't believe that we have the troop deployment currently necessary in Iraq to do the job we promised the Iraqi people we would do, so how do we rectify this with the prospect of sending peace-keeping troops into another country? How do we tell the family of today's lost soldier that their child didn't need additional back-up... that US forces were being deployed to half-secure two countries instead of fully securing one? I'm totally in favor of going into Liberia so long as we're sure our troops are provided equal to but hopefully better support as they're receiving right now in Iraq.
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