The Background of America Relationship With Liberia
America had no colony on African soil but they played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Republic of Liberia. Liberia was formed under US president Moore (the capital of that country was in fact christened after him Monrovia) for freed slave who wished to returned to their home country . Vessels were provisioned by America to ferry willing freed slave back to Africa. This was a gesture similar to the establishment of Freetown, Sierra Leon by the British. America’s close integration with Liberia is thus not far-fetched. American War-plans are allowed landing with less than 24 hours notice and Liberians literally consider America as their colonist(Even though America do no have such feeling towards them). It was therefore apt when one reporter states “it is then an American problem when Liberia sinks into anarchy”.
Liberia populace is largely stratified along skin colors.The slave returnees who are generally called creoles(more generally lighter) and the indigenous Africans (Usually completely black) largely the kayones and the Gios. The Creoles established formal government in Liberia and ruled the nation for 133 yrs democratically before the tides turn against them. How?
Introducing Samuel Doe
Master Sgt. Samuel K. Doe of the Kayones extract who was former chief of state under President William R. Tolbert Jr. Doe, staged a brutal coup that ended the dynasty of the creoles. He brutally murdered the President and conducted a summarily trial for 12 of his minister before they were found guilty and executed at a beach in Monrovia. Samuel Doe was largely supported by Thomas Quiwonkpa(Another black dude of Gio extract, whom Doe later resented and eventually beheaded). The coup was generally seen as a pay back time for the creoles by the indgeious Liberians whose hegomonic they despise.
Doe will now have to pilot the affair of the nation but he was beleaguered on several fronts. First, He was largely inexperience(barely 28yrs old) and untutored; second Liberia is effectively bankrupted (This has been a perpetual problem of the country even right from independence: Their major benefactor then been USA); Third, Tolbert’s reservoir of good will in the region, built over nine years as Liberia’s president and as chairman of the Organization of African Unity (Now Africa Union), had become a major obstacle (Doe is seen as Pariah on Africa soil) As if those troubles of his are inconsequential, White House (Liberia greatest ally and benefactor) definitely do not want anything to do with someone who ended Africa’s longest democratic government. Thus from inception, the government of Doe was headed to a fiasco. America’s intrest couple with the ambition of Qaddafi however gave Doe a life line
Libya, meanwhile, was having its own troubles. Col. Qaddafi’s recent effort to annex Chad was sending ripples of concern across Africa; Libya’s neighbors and big boys in Africa politics, particularly Egypt, the Sudan and Nigeria, warned that they would resist attempts to destabilize and subvert their nations. Liberia’s nascent government, however, was in no position to complain about Libya’s global ambitions. Qaddafi spotted an opportunity in this and seized it. Just days after the coup, Libya announced with much fanfare that it would recognize the new Doe regime – becoming the first nation to do so – and fleeted to establish full diplomatic relations.
For Doe, Libya’s advances which included vague promises of loans and grants, were a potential bonanza. For Qaddafi, Liberia represented an entry point into West Africa in his often-expressed dream of building a pan-Islamic African federation across the continent.
Given that Liberia was once one of Washington’s closest friends in Africa and Colonel Qaddafi was one of its chief enemies, U.S.intelligence officials found plenty to worry about in the emerging partnership between the duo. “We were barely settled when I started getting calls from the embassy urging us to back off, distance ourselves from Libya,” recalls George Boley, a senior cabinet member and one of Doe’s closest advisers.
There were more reason why America is troubled by Doe-Qaddafi romance: Libya’s long record of giving money and sanctuary to an A-list of terrorists, from the Abu Nidal group to the Irish Republican Army to Marxist revolutionaries in Central America; Libya’s growing influence on the Continent coupled with Qaddafi ambition to islamize the continent. Washington’s discomfort with Libya rose several notches when word went out that Doe had accepted an invitation from Qaddafi to visit Tripoli in December 1980.Doe’s motive was money.”We were having problems with cash flow to meet salaries for Christmas, and we realized that we weren’t going to have the money,” said Gabriel Bacchus Matthews, Liberia’s foreign minister during the early years of the Doe regime. “The Libyan’s had been pushing for Doe to make a visit,and they wanted to know what the problems were, and how they could be helpful, and in the end we proceeded to go. The Libyans were very excited.”
Word reached America about Doe’s planned visit to Tripoli and their reaction was swift and pragmatic.The Americans wanted badly for Doe to stay home and indicated that they were now prepared to deal with the new government. Doe’s terms were simple: he wanted cash. “In the end,” Matthews said in an interview, Richard Moose, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, flew “in here on a chartered aircraft, with $10 million in cash, so that Doe wouldn’t go to Libya.”. This thought Doe a simple but important lesson, “The American weakness:Their egoism”, Liberian officials said: any reservations Washington may have had about the Doe regime is dwarfed in comparison to their resentment of Qaddafi. This weakness Doe will explore at least during the first 5 years of his reign (He lasted 10 years in office);starting with the first year anniversary of his brutal take over.
Doe put that knowledge to use the following spring as he approached the first anniversary of the coup. As it happens, Doe was fascinated with air shows and had become fixated on the idea of putting on a flying exhibition, complete with stunt planes and precision parachute jumping, to celebrate his rise to power. An air show was not just a way of providing entertainment, Matthews said. Monrovia was rife with rumors that senior military officers were growing restless and Doe needed to demonstrate that he was firmly in charge. A show of support from the Americans, he reasoned, would silence his critics. Doe approached Washington with a proposal. He would close Libya’s embassy in Monrovia – the “People’s Bureau” as the Libyans called it – and expel its diplomats if the U.S. put on a military air show. It did not take long for Washington to accept the deal. As promised, shortly before April 12, about 100 U.S. Special Forces arrived in Monrovia for maneuvers with the Liberian military. Within days, the Libyans were sent packing.
America then continue to massively support Doe’s regime making him get away with plenty human right abuses he perpetrated (His regime vices is only only second to that perpetrated by Idi Amin of Uganda) while the obviously infuriated Qaddafi seek all possible means to revenge.
“I suspect that they had at least three reasons for wanting to get involved in Liberia,” said James K. Bishop, a former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia during the Doe regime. “One was to get even with Doe. One was just to ferment mayhem and support revolutionaries, and the third was to poke an eye out on the Americans because we of course had a very substantial stake in Liberia and they could take psychological satisfaction from having done us dirt.”
This was the beginning of the end to Doe’s regime and the remote cause of the brutal 7 years civil war that beleaguered Liberia. Qaddafi later resorted to recruiting Liberian dissidents based in neighboring countries, particularly Sierra Leone, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Ghana. At one point during the 1980’s, several hundred Liberians were training in Libya at least three different terrorist camps. Among those who found their way there were Dr. Boima Fahnbulleh, a former university professor and Minister of Education, and Samuel Dokie,a former Minister of Public Works.The biggest Liberian contingent, however, was led by Charles Taylor who later under the total finances of Qaddafi led a rebellion that saw the end of Doe.(An off-shot of his contingent led by Prince Yommie Johnson; A Gios dude who was former ADC to Quiwonkpa; actually arrested Doe, brutally tortured him in front of cameras before murdering him)