Liberia–United States relations - Wikipedia
democratic governance in relation to its economic, political and reconstruction is informed by an understanding of the political economy of the state at all .. In the third section the complex nature of post-war societies will be looked at. Post- . Liberia's history with the United States is complicated, surprising and has more than a little to do with racism. A racism that even tarnishes the. Liberia and the United States: A Complex Relationship. Liberia is was critical for economic development, Liberia began to face financial troubles in the s.
Bush sent marines to Monrovia's airport to support the peace-keeping effort. The United States also deployed warships along Liberia's coast as part of the stabilization effort. Government's development assistance program.
USAID's post-conflict rebuilding strategy focuses on reintegration and is increasingly moving towards a longer-term development focus. Rehabilitation efforts include national and community infrastructure projects, such as building roads, refurbishing government buildings, and training Liberians in vocational skills.
USAID also funds basic education programs, improving education for children, focusing on girls, and training teachers. USAID supports rule of law programs, establishing legal aid clinics and victim abuse centers, training judges and lawyers, community peace building and reconciliation efforts, and anti-corruption projects to promote transparency and accountability in public sector entities. But in Juneit did. This was followed by a Treaty of Commerce and Navigation signed at London on October 21, and entered into force February 17, It remained for long the formal framework of the relationship and was not supplanted until The significant non-commerce and navigation provision included the following, undoubtedly deemed essential by Liberian leaders: In the Grebo-government conflict a US navy captain mediated.
In a renewal of the same conflict in the USS Birmingham's captain mediated as Chief Gyude and other Nyomewe Grebo leaders were made to submit to the government. During a re-incarnation of the same crisis in the s, this time a consequence of government repression of Kru-Liberians because of cooperation with the League of Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights charges, the US decided to withhold recognition of President Edwin Barclay's government. While the US did very little to provide diplomatic protection for Liberia in the midst of the European Scramble for Africa, the presence of American missionary organizations and the interests of some African-Americans in the country kept the tenuous connection alive.
Liberia lived through the period of the European colonial expansion, employing its claims to the measure of American interest and support, but also in consequence of its willingness to cooperate and accommodate to European and American economic expansion in West Africa through the opening of concessions for timber and mining operations. By the turn of the 20th century, German, American, British, and French individuals and companies did considerable trading and extractive business in Liberia through concessions, contracts, shipping lines and merchant houses.
Yet Liberia's survival as an independent state became seriously endangered by its participation in the global economy. A succession of European and American loans, and often at usurious rates of interest and inadequately managed by the government led to arrangements of receivership in which Europeans and Americans controlled the nation's finances and sought to influence its political future.
A case in point is that of the American industrialist, Harvey Firestone, who sought to establish a stable supply of rubber for the booming American market by obtaining a plantation concession in Liberia. The circumstances were controversial. It was only partly mischievous that Liberia was referred to as the "Firestone Republic". Liberian Presidents and the US There was for long an official US posture of showing public deference to Liberian presidents, often reluctant, at least publicly, to show disapprobation of policies pursued by the Liberian government, the case of Edwin Barclay being until then a noted exception.
Perhaps this was so because the American posture was consistent with the tenor of the times in reference to the prerogatives of states over the rights of citizens. Consistent with this pattern the US engaged Liberia's leaders as the former maneuvered for advantage. The US pursued its Cold War and other interests while Liberia's leaders sought to defend their turfs, at times called national interests, yet patronage interest in reality.
To the consternation of many the US adopted an "interested observer" stance throughout the 14 years of Civil War, including the five years of the Taylor presidency I will flesh out some of the foregoing pointers by briefly reviewing five Liberian presidents and their relations with the US.
Edwin Barclay and the US Barclay was president between and The British writer, Graham Greene, interviewed him in Stripped of the caricatures there remained the portrait of a man of "ambiguous qualities", capable at once of Machiavellian abandon and great personal charm. He was born in in Liberia, a scion of a prominent family from among the West Indian settlers who arrived in Liberia in He was graduated from Liberia College inand studied law in the firm of his uncle, then President Arthur Barclay Beyond his formal education, he studied by himself, one recently declassified American account calling him "a well read man in any group" with "a quick and devious mind, retentive memory, catholic tastes and good political acumen.
By any, except those completely blinded by color prejudice, he would be considered a capable, intelligent statesman". Thirteen years as president, he previously held a number of cabinet positions, including Secretary of State It was from the latter position that he acceded to the presidency, and it was the issue immediately at hand that determined his relationship with the US.
In summary these issues included the international charges of forced labor and practices in Liberia akin to slavery and the attitude of Liberian officialdom toward these quite serious charges. The US was reluctant to accord early recognition to Barclay's government so soon after it had succeeded the indicted President C.
King and his vice president, Allen Yancy.
Policy & History
On the succession itself the US raised questions about constitutional procedures following the pressured resignations of both the vice president and the president. In fact the substantive concern appears to have been the fact that Barclay was Secretary of State during the period of the international allegations, and the US felt he was tinged with the scandal and therefore could not represent the legitimacy that the country then deserved.
When upon his succession to the presidency Barclay altered his predecessor's position regarding Liberia's disposition toward the League Report, agreeing to accept it only in principle, then subsequently requesting a League committee of experts to recommend reform measures for the country, the US quite impatiently stated in a diplomatic note that it expected prompt action to remedy the evil disclosed by the League Report, warning that otherwise "there would be a final alienation of the friendly feelings which the American government and people had entertained for Liberia since its founding".
Barclay was not forthcoming to this American importuning. He gauged the international climate, awaited the expert report, hedged on full acceptance until the League lost interest and withdrew from the effort in Eventually, Barclay drew up a plan of reform of his own which he then began to implement.
Meanwhile, Barclay clashed with the US over a related issue. Given the perceived simultaneous social, financial, and political crises that the country faced, he decided to suspend payment of interest and amortization on Firestone's FCA loan of In fact Barclay's view of the crises was that there was an international conspiracy afoot to place Liberia under international Mandate, and that the international figures involved were using certain "native grievances" to achieve their ends.
Accordingly, he caused to be passed by the Liberian legislature a harsh and oppressive Sedition Act, as well as a Moratorium Act in respect of obligations to the loan.
Where others loudly protested, Barclay stoutly defended his actions, pointing out that the latter action was not "confiscatory" as the US government had claimed, but merely a measure induced by budgetary pressures and relational difficulties.
The crisis in the relationship ended some five years after it began when the US State Department presented President F. Roosevelt with three alternatives, the third of which he accepted. The first was that the US would assume preponderant control over Liberia. The second was that the US would leave Liberia "severely along". The third was that the US would collaborate with the international community in an effort to rehabilitate the country. Roosevelt's acceptance of this latter alternative led eventually to the resolution of the crisis.
Recognition of the Barclay government, withheld sincewas accorded in The relationship nonetheless remained tense for the remaining eight years in spite of the mitigating circumstances of World War II. Educated by Methodist missionaries, he also studied law under the apprenticeship of Maryland County Senator Monroe Cummings. Though his formal education was limited, he apparently had natural talents which he used to good effect as he embarked on an early political career.
A recently declassified American source called Tubman "gifted with a quick mind, keen intuition and observation" as he managed "through his own effort, to acquire an education well above that of the average Liberian politician. Tubman's presidency coincided with the immediate post-World War II years when a new world order, led by the US, was being forged, accompanied by the ferment of change in Africa with the decolonization movement.
He took his cue from the Barclay transition and opted to make common cause with the US as the Cold War dawned. World War II recognized Liberia's strategic value as it emphasized its strategic location and its critical value as a major source of rubber production for the allies, particularly after Japan cut the Pacific route to Asian rubber.
Once the US entered the war Liberia was integrated into the effort with infrastructure development, the stationing of America's "Buffalo Soldiers" on Liberian soil in Julythe first of its kind, and US troops involvement in the modernization and training of Liberia's military, the Liberian Frontier Force LFF.
With Liberia's declaration of war against the axis powers on American urgings, she became eligible for Lend-Lease assistance with the label "vital to the security of the US". The US acquired rights to construct and defend airports, and assist in the defense of the country. It was against this background that President Roosevelt made a historic visit to Liberia inthen the first ever of an American president.
Liberia - United States Relations: Shifts And Turning Points
Elected later that year as president, Tubman as president-elect joined President Barclay in a return visit to the US. The Barclay-Tubman visit to the White House was an occasion to take stock of the relationship with the US and set a post-war course. Against the wartime foundation for cooperation Tubman sought to formulate his US policy.
He fully embraced the Western world led by the US where Barclay proceeded with caution, perhaps reflecting the latter's experience of the s with the international community.
In his inaugural address, Tubman made common cause with the "general national and international aims" of the US, declared war on Germany on US urgings, becoming the 35th country to do so. The expressed policy affinity with the US became for Tubman the basis for an "implicit quid pro quo approach" motivated by historical and cultural bonds between the two countries.
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. He also reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel. Doe's corruption became an embarrassment to the U.
Human rights violations were frequent. A portion of U. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Chester Crocker testified before Congress that the election was imperfect but that at least it was a movement toward democracy. He further justified his statement with the claim that, in any case, all African elections were known to be rigged at that time.
As the Cold War ended, U. House and Senate passed resolutions calling for an end to U. Liberians continued to hope that the U. Liberians believed that the U. That same year, Charles Taylor and his rebel forces invaded from the Ivory Coast and set off a bloody and destructive seven-year-long civil war in Liberia. As fighting between the rebels and the Liberian army intensified, Liberians kept hoping that the United States would step in, remove Doe, and broker a peace agreement.
Global Connections . Liberia . U.S. Policy | PBS
Instead, it limited its involvement to merely evacuating U. A relationship unravels Today the U. But the amount of U. The Peace Corps program no longer operates in Liberia for political and safety reasons.
Under Taylor, the violence and human rights violations have continued. S has accused the Liberian government of contributing to a regional refugee crisis, creating instability in the region, and fueling the civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone by providing arms in exchange for diamonds mined under terrible conditions.
Liberia, therefore, currently faces a UN-imposed ban on diamond exports, as well as a travel ban on senior Liberian officials and an arms embargo. To help or not to help In the span of years, the relationship of the United States to Liberia has gone from one of parental nurturing to one of self-interested assistance to one of increasing disengagement.
There are many views on whether the U. Some feel that the U. In this view, the U. Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo are examples of places in which the U. Others feel that U. They point to the disastrous U. They point to the economic and social problems at home which require political attention and funds.