Liberia–United States relations - Wikipedia
To most persons in the United States the name of Liberia repre- sents, if it means .. the association of the Government of the United States with the project is distinct. .. Just what it might be was difficult to ascertain, and it was accord-. United States strategic interests tie Washington to the Liberian crisis, even ''It would be difficult and very expensive to move them to another country.'' a special strategic relationship between the United States and Liberia. . History of Liberia - U.S. relations · Embassy of Liberia in the United States Foreign relations of the United States.
In an early treaty with Liberia there is a provision under which the United States may be called upon for advice or assistance. Pursuant to this provision and in the spirit of the moral relationship of the United States to Liberia, that Republic last year asked this Government to lend assistance in the solution of certain of their national problems, and hence the Commission was sent across the ocean on two cruisers.
American administration of the border police also stabilized the frontier with Sierra Leone and checked French ambitions to annex more Liberian territory. The American navy also established a coaling station in Liberia, cementing its presence.
When World War I started, Liberia declared war on Germany and expelled its resident German merchants, who constituted the country's largest investors and trading partners — Liberia suffered economically as a result.
In the s Liberia was again virtually bankrupt, and, after some American pressure, agreed to an assistance plan from the League of Nations. Firestone was a large munitions supplier for the Allies. Tolbert's establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries. President Jimmy Carter in car, left in Monrovia The rise of Charles Taylor's government, the Liberian Civil Warregional instability and human rights abuses interrupted the previously close relations between Liberia and the United States.
Charles Taylor's election in was monitored by the Economic Community of West African States and the United States officially recognized the result and the new government. On July 30,the United States proposed a UN Security Council draft resolution to authorize the deployment of a multi-national stabilization force.
In Tubman dispatched to the US his treasury secretary at the head of a mission to prepare a development blueprint for the country. It envisaged a whole range of infrastructure development including roads, health, military training, education, and urban development. In time the Liberian president would reason that the US had a responsibility to develop Liberia in all spheres in the same manner as European colonial neighbors had developed their African territories.
The Cold War soon gave a fillip to this argument. This was followed by US encouragement of private American and other Western investment in the country.
In the Stettinius Associates-Liberia, Inc. It was granted an year concession "to exploit any line of business, except activities already expressly granted to other concessionaires". And it became the stimulus for Liberia's merchant marine program. The latter, formally installed inremains today a major revenue generating business. And Liberian diplomats were instructed to speak publicly on international issues in terms to which the US subscribed. In the decade towith a favorable global economic situation and the returns on the enormous public and private investments made, Tubman's Liberia could boast appreciable modernization of its economic and social institutions.
Because Africa was the other pillar of Tubman's foreign policy thrust, and considering American Cold War interests in the continent, there was here some interesting collaboration.
There were concerns as well about the spread of communist influence and the destabilizing effects of these and similar activities. There was the closest of collaboration between Tubman and the US on these matters. The US fully acknowledged Liberia's standing in Africa and often used Tubman as a conduit to more problematic African leaders.
One American wrote in He stoically held his grounds while working to enhance his credentials as a moderate leader. William Tolbert and the US He succeeded to the presidency upon Tubman's death in July and served through April 12, when he was assassinated. Born in Bensonville of parents whose forebears came from South Carolina, his father spoke fluent Kpelle, was a farmer, and a legislator. The junior Tolbert's career mirrored his father's.
Graduated with a BA degree in from Liberia College, he was elected to the Legislature inand called ten years later to the vice presidency where he remained until Tubman's death. Tolbert signaled an early shift away from Tubman's foreign policy, characterizing what he sought to do as retaining old friends while courting new ones. In a world still dominated by the Cold War, he decided to exchange ambassadors with the Soviet Union and other socialist states, sever ties with Israel, establish relations with Libya through a Liberian-Libyan Holding Company, the latter two in the name of Afro-Arab solidarity.
Global Connections . Liberia . U.S. Policy | PBS
Tolbert warmed up as well to African and other Third World "progressive" regimes, even while he had a complicated relationship with his own domestic "progressives". Because the US was troubled by these relationships there is speculation that it may have sanctioned the coup d'etat which ended Tolbert and his regime. The period echoed the Barclay era in reference to sentiments of ambivalence in the relationship. Where Barclay's was derived from the crisis of the s, Tolbert's came from a review of foreign concession agreements and his upbraiding of some multinational company officials, accompanied by openings to the socialist world.
Early in his term Tolbert decided to seek a renegotiation of concession agreements with a view to addressing issues of equity. Firestone was the first because, among other considerations, it was the oldest. Firestone apparently chose not to be forthcoming. One source hints at what came next in these words: Tensions with Firestone found echoes in the State Department in Washington. There soon emerged reports in official Liberian circles in that the State Department was discouraging further foreign investment in the country.
The Minister used the occasion of July 4 at the US Embassy to express what he called "mixed feelings" and a mode that was "somewhat ambivalent" as Liberia celebrated America's milestone. In a Washington public relations firm hired by Liberia was even more revealing in its report.
It said that US perception of Liberia included the image of an elitist society with the masses living in despair. Liberia was also perceived as a traditionally reliable friend of the US and therefore easy to short-change in matters of military and economic assistance.
This, then, was the status of the relationship as the s ended. Tolbert's decision to open Liberia to the socialist world, to make common cause with "progressive" forces of the Global South accompanied by ambivalence toward domestic progressivesand to re-negotiate concession agreements, notably Firestone's.
These and other decisions contributed to tension in the relationship between Washington and Monrovia. The coup occurred in this context and friendship in the relationship was not restored until a military government was installed in April Born in Tuzon of Krahn parents, he was the first president of purely indigenous background.
His formal education was meager but he managed to improve himself after he enlisted in the Liberian military. In he was made a master sergeant, a rank he held when he joined other enlisted men and overthrew Tolbert. Doe was not highly thought of by US officials, but there appeared a decided American determination to mold him into something useful. Uncertainty characterized the relationship in the beginning months of the military government.
That was short lived. Given the country's economic difficulties and a military leadership made to lean towards Liberia's traditional orientation, unprecedented US assistance soon assured that friendship would return to the relationship. These actions led the outgoing Carter administration and the incoming Reagan administration "to reconfirm the traditional US-Liberian special relationship.
While Doe was doing well from these early indications of responding to Washington's interests, US officials did not consider that his pattern of eliminating his domestic rivals had implications for the future of his regime. Clearer autocratic tendencies soon emerged, coming to a head in the politics of the elections. Liberians and international observers tried to protest a rigged election, while President Reagan's point man for Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Chester Crocker offered a condescending endorsement of the results.
Crocker's successor, Herman Cohen, writes that that endorsement caused "dismay in the Congress and [marked] the start of a steady decline in US-Liberia relations". In response to the deteriorating socio-political and economic situation, largely a direct consequence of a foiled coup d'etat in late by General Thomas Quinwonkpa, Doe's erstwhile colleague, as well as Doe's politics of repression and defiance, particularly directed toward Liberians of Nimbain provenance home County of QuinwonkpaSecretary of State George Schultz visited Liberia in January Much transpired during and following the visit, but its primary outcome was the US offer of a team of retired financial experts to assist Liberia ,put its financial affairs in order.
Doe thoroughly frustrated the experts and they prematurely withdrew leaving Washington even more frustrated. Too, he seemed unprepared to appreciate US Congressional concerns about his poor human rights record and the management issues that had partially prompted the Schultz visit.
By January three US national security facilities near Monrovia were threatened due to congressional disenchantment with Doe. These vitals included the diplomatic and intelligence communications relay station "of acre antenna fields and several buildings serving 15 American embassies in Africa"; the VOA relay station of some acres that transmitted 75 daily broadcasts to Africa; and a US Coast Guard-operated "Omega" maritime navigation tracking station, then one of six worldwide as navigational aids for ships and air crafts.
Liberia - United States Relations: Shifts And Turning Points
A noted initial public US response was to consider providing the Doe government counterinsurgency advice, but the international human rights community and Congress were swift in response, underscoring Doe's atrocious human rights record. Liberia was in flames at the moment in that Iraq invaded Kuwait. A US choice was made not to engage in Liberia despite what the State Department called "expensive and irreplaceable [American] facilities" and other interests in Liberia.
According to Cohen, the abandonment went forward because the White House, led by deputy NSC adviser Robert Gates, determined that the US facilities had lost their vitality and criticality in the changed circumstance of the post-Cold War world. Neither military nor diplomatic engagement would be allowed.
The US would not "take charge of the Liberian problem". It would follow the lead of Liberia's African neighbors and become an "interested observer", providing routine humanitarian assistance to NGOs in the field. This, essentially, remained US policy, throughwhen Taylor acceded to the Liberian presidency. There was no material change in this policy.
Charles Taylor and the US Taylor was president from January through August 11, when he was pressured to resign and go into exile. Born in Arthingon, Taylor is the product of a settler-Liberian father and a Gola-Liberian mother. In terms of his political pedigree, he is from the lower echelons of the old settler group, and therefore was not in power at their sufferance despite the fact that a few sensed political opportunities in his regime.
Liberia–United States relations
Considered by those who know him well to be naturally gifted with a good mind and personal initiative, Taylor's route to power was most unorthodox. His political apprenticeship was with Liberian community organizations in the US during his student days and a stint in the military government of his nemesis, Samuel Doe.
He soon fell out with the dictatorial Doe, returned to the US, and was charged with embezzlement of public funds by Doe who then initiated extradition proceedings against him. Taylor was arrested and imprisoned awaiting trial when he escaped and left the country. Soon he emerged in West Africa, exploited his marital link to Nimba County, and declared in course that he was taking up the mantle of General Quiwonkpa.
It was this rebellion of Taylor's that became the Civil War that lasted for 14 years, ending only in the Summer of following his indictment by the Special UN Court for Sierra Leone for crimes against humanity, and his pressured departure into exile. Liberia's warring and political factions concluded a peace agreement in as the then seven-year-old conflict sputtered to an end. Holding free and fair elections quickly was a centerpiece of the arrangement.
In a highly problematic and unstable social environment the international community pushed for and supervised elections in Taylor is reported to have won by a large margin over his opponents, one prominent publication justifying the exercise by suggesting that in choosing Taylor Liberians were "voting for peace". Taylor soon became the "democratically elected president of Liberia". A mutually distrustful relationship between the US and President Taylor ensued.
ECOMOG, the West African peace force which had been endorsed by the UN was meant to supervise the re-creation of the military in collaboration with others in the international community. The US expressed interest in helping with re-creating a national police force.
Taylor chose to ignore the peace agreement and claimed a constitutional prerogative to "raise an army". The relationship of mutual distrust with the US became manifest as serious human rights concerns lead the US to condition its offer to help with police training on the removal by Taylor of his notorious police chief, Joe Tate.
Human rights assessments of the country during the period through explain why on this issue, as well as that of the highly problematic private militia security units created by the regime, progress was inconceivable. A series of other issues further shaped the relationship.
Taylor planned in to attend the fall session of the United Nations General Assembly. Because he was coming to the US, the then unsettled issue of his escape from prison in the State of Massachusetts in was raised by the press and other sources. Following much back and forth involving Massachusetts's judicial officials, the US State Department, and Taylor's agents, the State's District Attorney decided in October to drop all charges against him.
The idea of a US trip was revived following this outcome, only to be aborted once again, this time because Taylor considered it a slight that in all the arrangements made for his visit US President Bill Clinton had refused to receive him, the only Liberian president, certainly among the five being profiled here, to so experience American shunning.
A Taylor apologist writes: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright toured African countries, she refused to meet with the elected Liberian president". Other events transpired that further eroded US-Liberian relations.
They include a surreptitious attempt by Taylor to circumvent a UN arms embargo by seeking to purchase an armored Hummer vehicle from the US via the U. The US blocked the purchase and Britain deported the Liberian facilitator who was residing in London.
There was as well a serious incident in September at the US Embassy in Monrovia during which there was an exchange of gun fire involving Taylor's security forces, his armed opponents, and military guards at the Embassy. Charges and counter charges left the relationship where it had begun, marked by acrimony and mutual suspicion.
Perhaps the ultimate issue was the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy LURD insurgency, which began in northern Liberia in and culminated on Bushrod Island in the Summer ofcontributing in no small way to bringing down the Taylor regime. The US appeared quickly to join what became a bandwagon of determined opponents, which included another insurgency group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia MODELattacking from southern Liberia, as well as the Liberian people themselves protesting the brutalities that engulfed them on every side.
During the Clinton administration the US employed diplomatic methods to persuade a change of course by Taylor.
He was urged to discontinue support for Sierra Leone RUF rebels and other acts of West African regional destabilization, as well as improve his human rights record at home. Unresponsive, there followed a US-backed UN investigation of the charges. The investigation confirmed the veracity of the charges, and selective punitive sanctions, called "smart sanctions", were imposed against the regime. Taylor struggled to circumvent the sanctions even as LURD increased its military pressures on the regime.
Clearly US policy was to contain and isolate Taylor, working closely with West African regional and continental African leaders, as well as with the UN. The close collaboration with the Africans was in evidence during President Bush's visit to the continent July Over time the US dissuaded the international community from any direct assistance to the Taylor regime; it wanted the UN arms embargo of mid-Civil War vintage sustained; it condemned violence perpetrated by all in the escalating conflict without suggesting forceful action against the insurgents.
The Liberian president began feeling the coordinated military, financial and diplomatic pressures, and attempted his own maneuvers. Early in May he signaled his preparedness to make major political concessions including not standing for re-election at the end of his term later in the year. He invited direct US engagement in an effort to end the insurgency. But the US remained unresponsive, plausibly intensifying pressures at its disposal.
Meanwhile, the pace of events quickened. A peace conference assembling all the parties to the Liberian conflict began in Ghana on June 2. On June 4 the proceedings were disturbed with an announced indictment of President Taylor by the UN Special Court in Sierra Leone "for his alleged role in crimes committed during Sierra Leone's civil war".
The belligerents announced a cease-fire agreement on June In Liberia, the US strongly supports the cease-fire signed earlier this month. President Taylor needs to step down so that his country can be spared further bloodshed.
All parties in Liberia must pursue a comprehensive peace agreement.
And the US is working with regional governments to support those negotiations. And to map out a secure transition to election. We are determined to help the people of Liberia find the road to peace.
- U.S. Department of State
- Policy & History
A further intensification of the diplomatic and other pressures on Taylor was applied in the weeks that followed. Taylor grudgingly bowed to these pressures, resigned on August 11, and went into exile in Nigeria.
The ongoing negotiations in Ghana concluded on August 18 with a comprehensive peace agreement. These developments appeared cumulatively to mark a new beginning for Liberia and with this perhaps a new chapter in the history of relations with the US.
Conclusion There has always been controversy about the special or privileged character of the relations between the US and Liberia, but seldom an issue about its uniqueness.
Few, if any, African countries can claim the more-than-a-century of sustained interaction with the US as can Liberia. Perhaps the greatest turning point came in the summer of when the world community trained its gaze on the relationship as Liberia experienced a fresh spasm of violence in its 14 year old Civil War.
Both Britain and France were re-engaging in their troubled former colonies in Africa following a hiatus in the s, and the US was challenged to demonstrate a similar measure of concern for its former ward.
Thus it was that as Taylor departed the presidency in August and Liberians recollected themselves, they did so with substantial assistance from the international community, the US being critical to that effort.