2003 July 11 Friday
Jack Spencer Lists 8 Reasons To Oppose US Troops For Liberia

Jack Spencer of The Heritage Foundation lists 8 reasons not to send US soldiers into Liberia.

  1. Political violence in Liberia does not constitute a threat to the vital interests of United States.
  2. Americans are not needed.
  3. A Liberian peacekeeping operation will drain valuable resources away from vital national security requirements.
  4. Considerable financial cost.
  5. Americans peacekeepers will be targets of political violence.
  6. The American public will not support such operations.
  7. The U.S. armed forces do not make good peacekeepers.
  8. The international elite makes it increasingly difficult for the U.S. to participate in any of these kinds of missions.

Spencer says the US has spent $20 billion so far doing Balkans peace-keeping and military operations. An intervention in Liberia might easily stretch on for years as well. The US Army is already overcommitted. We need to deal with higher priorities including Iraq, Afghanistan, and the nuclear weapons development programs of Iran and North Korea. As Spencer points out, every soldier sent on a peacekeeping operation is really a commitment of at least 3 soldiers.

A peacekeeping force consists of more then just the number of troops actually involved in the operation. If 2,000 troops are deployed as Kofi Annan requested the United States would really be committing is 6,000 troops, because for every soldier committed, there is one preparing to deploy and one recovering.

In addition to that, the U.S. maintains 8,000 troops in the Balkans, which means that 24,000 are dedicated to that mission. So with an additional peacekeeping mission in Liberia, the United States would have at least 30,000 troops committed to missions that have little or nothing to do with U.S. national security.

Why doesn't Germany handle Liberia? Or why not use a private army? There are other solutions besides US troops. The US should reserve its forces for problems that only America can handle and that involve vital US interests. Unfortunately, there are already more such situations than there are US soldiers to handle them. US soldiers in Iraq are still experiencing 10 to 25 attacks per day. Iran and North Korea are hard at work developing nuclear weapons. US special forces are involved in operations in the Horn of Africa against Al Qaeda and likely in other places as well. People who argue for US intervention in Liberia need to explain why it is that only US forces could do the job and how it is that the US has enough soldiers to spare for optional interventions. Surely European forces, African forces, or a private army could do the job just as well.

Update: The proposal by the International Peace Operations Association for private firms to take over peacekeeping in the Congo could be followed for Liberia instead or as well.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 July 11 01:46 PM  Chaotic Regions

Dan Van Zile said at July 11, 2003 6:52 PM:

I am not terribly excited about sending a few thousand troops to Liberia, because I think its useless, the mess is just too big.
I do not however have much use for Jack Spencer's 8 points. Point number #1 isespecially wrong. When have the these peacekeeping missions been in the US national interest. Lets go back in time and look at some of them. Grenada, make the Carribean safe for medical students who cant get into US med schools. Panama, like there's a dope shortage here, Please! Bosnia, come on, it isnt like Balkan internecine strife is anything new in history. Gulf War I. Look up the definition of mercenary, see how much the Oil Barons (Saudi Arabia and the Emirates)paid us to defend them. Gulf War 2, as if getting bogged down in a guerilla war in the Middle East is in our best interest. The only thing worse would be a land war in Asia, whoops sounds like Korea again.
The other 7 points are fairly harmless #s2,3,4, yep I agree #5 I disagree, maybe right wing republicans would not support it but so what. #7 true but it is a skill that should be learned, its probably goning to have to be done occasionally in the future. #8 Do I detect some annoyance that the Europeans refused to go along with the Iraq affair, well they were right it was a bad idea. Dan

Randall Parker said at July 11, 2003 7:43 PM:

Dan, Gulf War I was in large part about oil. Well, not having one thug in control of all the oil of the Arabian Peninsula is certainly in the best interest of the US. Also, Gulf War I inadvertently led to a huge setback for Saddam's nuclear development prgram. In 1993 or 1994 (I forget which) the UNSCOM or IAEA inspectors (contrary to the desires of Hans Blix their boss) found a bunch of Iraqi nuke stuff and set back Saddam's program many years. If the Gulf War I had not been fought Saddam would have achieved nuclear status in the 1990s.

Yes, the Saudis paid us to defend them. But that was in our interests as well.

Point 7: The US Army is learning that skill in Iraq and in the Balkans. They do not have enough troops to go around.

Point 3: We do not have a big enough military for all it is being asked to do.

Point 8: If US troops go to Liberia the Euros will certainly end up trying to charge them with something. Every place the US gets involved is just another place where the Euros can look for spurious evidence of war crimes committed by US troops.

As for guerrilla war in Iraq: It is far from (clear (at least to me - and I do read a great deal on it) whether the fighting there will last months or years. We simply do not know enough about the nature of the opposition. How many are there? If Saddam was killed would they give up? Are there Baathists going around with briefcases funding this? What percentage of the fighters are Arabs coming in from other countries? How many Arabs are coming in every day? I could go on. I can't assess the situation and make any guesses at this point.

M. said at July 13, 2003 6:14 AM:

Mercenaries are never a good idea,they always have their own agenda.
Even regular troops from western nations have committed nasty acts,why would a private sector foriegn legion be any better?

Randall Parker said at July 13, 2003 8:40 AM:

M, First of all, what the Liberia forces are doing to the populace is already pretty bad. Mercs would be much better than them, Secondly, some of the UN peacekeepers have been pretty bad. Some have even engaged in running prostitution and basically slavery for prostitution operations. There is no reason to assume that a private force would be any worse.

Look, we do not have a big enough Army. We should not do Liberia because we have bigger problems. If people want to argue for solving the problem they can come up with a better solution. But right now no other nation is offering its soldiers.

Misteri said at March 10, 2005 8:11 PM:

Why throw away American lives for Africans? Isn't that why the US pulled out of Somalia?

Misteri said at March 10, 2005 8:12 PM:

[ParaPundit edited this down because complete article copying violates copyright law]

Americans to give Africans more free-dinners:

Africa is short of everything except good intentions, platitudes and promises of money from Western taxpayers. Yet it will be showered with all three today when Tony Blair's Commission for Africa unveils its report on the world's poorest continent.

Thanks to advance leaks of the contents of this 400-page tome, we know exactly what the 17 international luminaries, ranging from the Prime Minister to Bob Geldof, who sit on this august body think is needed for a "strong and prosperous Africa".

Many of their ideas are sensible and necessary. And yet the report has one glaring flaw: it is passionate and detailed on what the West should do for Africa, but silent or vacuous on what Africa should do for itself.

Its main remedy for the continent's ills is thus a depressing throwback to the 1960s school of aid and development - that Africa should get an extra 13 billion of aid by 2010 and another 13 billion after that.

Bitter experience suggests that even if these huge sums were multiplied tenfold, they would do little good. For Africa received 220 billion of aid between 1960 and 1997, the equivalent of six Marshall Plans, and finished up even poorer than before.

[ParaPundit edited this down because complete article copying violates copyright law]

Decades of bitter experience have shown that authoritarianism is the enemy of development. But a British-sponsored commission has dodged an unambiguous demand for every African regime to embrace democracy. It is little short of incredible that this vital issue can still be skirted.

Still more depressing is the report's coverage of corruption. This, we are told, is a "systemic challenge facing African leaders". In a continent where Gen Sani Abacha, the late Nigerian dictator, was able to steal between 1 billion and 3 billion in less five years, this is no exaggeration.

Yet, by some warped logic, all three of the report's recommendations for fighting corruption in Africa are directed not at Africans but at Western nations.

They are urged to take "all necessary" measures to "repatriate illicitly acquired funds and assets held in the financial systems of their countries". What about insisting that African governments stop those "illicitly acquired funds" from being looted in the first place?

[ParaPundit edited this down because complete article copying violates copyright law]

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