Jewish World Review July 8, 2003 / 8 Tamuz, 5763

Michael Graham

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‘LIBERIALS’ | Howard Dean, liberal governor of Vermont (think San Francisco with snow) knows exactly why George W. Bush was wrong to invade Iraq:

"Iraq was not a threat to us. As frightful and dreadful as Saddam Hussein is, or was, it was not OK for the United States to attack a country that was not a threat to us."

Oh, sure, Saddam Hussein was a lifelong terrorist and supporter of terror, he gave safe harbor to terrorists who killed Americans, he invaded his neighbors twice, repeatedly threatened the world's oil supply, called for the destruction of Israel and had an active WMD program for virtually his entire political career. Even as we speak, his nuclear scientists are digging up research equipment from their own gardens.

But invade Iraq? No way, says Gov. Dean. So what if defeating Iraq will help turn the tide in the War on Terror? So what if it will finally give the U.S. leverage in the Mideast's fever swamp of religiously-inspired violence? We don't belong in Iraq, American liberals insist.

No, no no. We need to invade Liberia. Now there's a threat to American interests…

If you're going to watch liberals like Howard Dean and Jesse Jackson flipping and flopping to explain their foreign policy, I recommend you take a Dramamine first. Cuts down on the motion sickness.

Liberia is one of the numerous national basket cases around the world. Its people aren't as hungry as the North Koreans, its regime no more vicious and repressive than Myanmar's, its streets no more chaotic than Congo or Somalia, its people no more desperate for freedom than the citizens of Cuba. But it's bad enough.

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Liberia is in the midst of (yet another) civil war. On one side is the current regime led by Charles Taylor, a notorious brute under indictment for crimes against humanity. In addition to looting billions of dollars from the impoverished people of Liberia, Taylor and his goons are best known for hacking the hands off their political opponents.

Taylor was elected to lead Liberia in 1997 with 85% of the vote, in part because he promised that if he lost the election, his thugs would kill everyone they could get their hands on. I guess that puts the infamous "Willie Horton" ads into perspective.

Opposing Taylor is a group called (I kid you not) LURD: Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. While they may sound like Austin Powers' next evil nemesis, here's how one European diplomat describes them: "The upper tiers are filled with the perpetrators of rape, looting and cannibalism. We are all supporting an international force, but what will they do if they face 14-year-olds, high on coke, with an AK-47 trying to kill them?"

That's right, the man said "cannibalism." In fact, both sides in the Liberian war have been accused of dining on the flesh of their enemies.

Forget teaching the Liberians democracy. First we better teach them the four food groups.

Given the 30-year history of violence, struggle and tribal warfare, why would we even think about sending our soldiers into this mess? Why should we care if a bunch of illiterate bushmen from the Krahn, Gio and Mandingo tribes want to continue their centuries-old tradition of eating each other? Howard Dean says "humanitarian disaster." I say "bon appetit!"

Supporters of a Liberia invasion claim America has a special duty to protect the Liberians from themselves because their nation was founded by American slaves. That is simply not true.

First, it's not true that slaves founded Liberia. It was founded by the American Colonization Society, a group of white slave owners who believed that slavery was destined to end in the U. S., but couldn't imagine whites and blacks living together. Some 13,000 black Americans were sent to Liberia in the 1800s, many against their will. Today, descendants of slaves make up a small minority of the 3.3 million Liberians.

But liberals are also wrong when they maintain that we have a duty to bring decent government to Liberia. If it were America's job to topple every evil regime, then Howard Dean would (obviously) support America's invasion of Iraq. But he still opposes our toppling of the Hussein regime, as does most of the American Left.

So if it's not America's role to mandate good government, and if the world is full of suffering, hungry people, and Liberia is no threat to America or our allies, why are so many liberals supporting an American military action there?

Two words: Democratic primaries. Black voters are a key constituency in the upcoming Democratic presidential primaries, and some of these voters see Liberia as a "pro-black" issue. If President Bush doesn't act in Liberia, Jesse Jackson will accuse him of ignoring the plight of suffering blacks. Of course, if American troops do land in Liberia and find themselves forced to shoot back at teenaged boys, you can bet that Jackson & Co. will keep that story on the front page, too.

Which is why American foreign policy should be based on principles, not politics. And why liberals like Howard Dean should never, ever discuss foreign policy in public.

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JWR contributor Michael Graham is a talk show host and author of the highly acclaimed "Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War." To comment, please click here.


07/01/03: Our Strom
06/24/03: Like white on Rice
06/20/03: Security begins at home
06/16/03: DEAR HIL—
06/11/03: Madame Hillary's Lessons for Young Ladies
06/03/03: War games
05/28/03: A few small reparations
05/22/03: Springtime for Hitler?

© 2003, Michael Graham