Thursday, August 14, 2003

Finally! American Action in Liberia

From this New York Times report, I gather that the U.S. has finally pledged to send ashore some 200 troops to back up the Nigerians serving as peacekeepers in Monrovia. I'd say not a moment too soon, either, given the account of massive looting of Monrovia's port detailed in the same story.

Thousands of gunmen and desperate civilians looted oil and sacks of grain from the city's port today as a ship carrying relief supplies bobbed offshore.

[............]

Mainly young men but also young women and the elderly joined fighters streaming out of Monrovia's port on Wednesday with sacks of grain, cooking oil and other goods taken from shipping containers and international aid agency warehouses.

After hours of pillaging, rebel commanders ordered the looters out of the port.

"We are totally in control of the situation," said a rebel official, Sekou Fofana, as his troops — mostly children — kicked, beat and fired guns over the heads of people carting off bags of food, many marked with United Nations and World Food Program seals.

It pains me to say this, but given the shameful record of Nigerian soldiers in Liberia (ECOMOG = "Every Car or Moving Object Must Go"), I'm glad that American soldiers will be joining them, if only to keep in check the rapacity of the Nigerian troops. If there's one other thing I'm hoping for, it is that the Americans go onshore heavily armed, and that the various factions see that they are thus armed. An ounce of preventive intimidation is worth a ton of forceful retribution down the line.