Advertisement

Getting Beyond the Somalia Syndrome? Revisiting the United States’ Intervention in Liberia 15 Years Later

  • Raymond Kwun Sun LauEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)

Abstract

The 2003 US intervention in Liberia was the first time since the Somalia debacle in 1992 that Washington became involved again in military intervention with humanitarian purposes in Africa. While the ‘Mogadishu factor’ might explain the minimal and limited American involvement in Liberia’s second civil war, it does not adequately explain what has motivated the US government to re-engage in Liberia and West Africa since 2003. This chapter seeks to make a contribution to the debate on the use of military force in US foreign policy in arguing that US intervention in Liberia is situated in the broader context of American foreign policy towards Africa after 9/11. The principal argument here is that Washington’s partial rehabilitation from the ‘Somalia syndrome’ and gradual re-engagement with Liberia and the West Africa region is largely motivated by two major factors: the global war on terror and subsequent militarisation of US Africa policy, and the desire to enhance US energy security by shifting America’s foreign oil dependency away from the Middle East. The article concludes by examining the implication of US intervention in Liberia for future military interventions that comprise human protection purposes in Africa.

Keywords

Mogadishu factor/Somalia syndrome Rwanda effect New interventionism Military intervention for humanitarian purposes Responsibility to Protect (R2P) Bush doctrine Global War on Terrorism 

References

  1. Allen, Tim, and David Styan. 2000. ‘A Right to Interfere? Bernard Kouchner and the New Humanitarianism’, Journal of International Development 12 (6): 825–842.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andreasson, Stefan. 2014. ‘US Fracking Boom Puts West African Oil Economies at Risk’, The Conversation, 6 August. Google Scholar
  3. Annan, Kofi. 1999. The Question of Intervention: Statements by the Secretary-General. New York: United Nations Department of Public Information.Google Scholar
  4. Barrett, Lindsay. 1992. ‘The Siege of Monrovia’, West Africa, 23–29 November.  Google Scholar
  5. Baumann, Robert and Lawrence Yates with Versalle Washington. 2004. My Clan Against the World: US and Coalition Forces in Somalia 1992–1994. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bellamy, Alex J. 2015. The Responsibility to Protect: A Defense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Boutros-Ghali, Boutros. 1992. An Agenda for Peace: Preventive Diplomacy, Peacemaking and Peace-Keeping. New York: United Nations.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boyer, C.D.R. Timothy E. USN. 2008. ‘Cote d’Ivoire: Intervention and Prevention Responses’, in Douglas C. Peifer (ed.), Stopping Mass Killings in Africa: Genocide, Airpower and Intervention, pp.101–126. Alabama: Air University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Carlson, Darren K. 2003. ‘Should the U.S. Keep the Peace in Liberia?’, Gallup Poll Tuesday Briefing, 5 August. Google Scholar
  10. Centre for Global Development. n.d. Myra Sessions. ‘Overview of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)’.Google Scholar
  11. Clinton, Bill. 1999. ‘Remarks by the President to the KFOR Troops’, Skopje, Macedonia, 22 June, http://clinton2.nara.gov/Africa/19980325-16872.html (accessed 31 March 2018).
  12. CNN. 2003a. ‘Bush Trip Evokes Mixed Response’, 8 July.Google Scholar
  13. CNN. 2003b. ‘Liberia’s Taylor Not Ready to Leave’. 7 July.Google Scholar
  14. Copson, Raymond. 2007. The United States in Africa: Bush Policy and Beyond. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  15. Dunn, D. Elwood. 1999. ‘The Civil War in Liberia’, in Taisier M. Ali and Robert O. Matthews (eds.), Civil Wars in Africa: Roots and Resolution. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ero, Comfort, Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, and Augustine Toure. 2001. Toward a Pax West African: Building Peace in a Troubled Sub-Region. A report on the IPA-ECOWAS, 27–29 September, Abuja Seminar, New York: International Peace Academy.Google Scholar
  17. Finnemore, Martha. 1996. ‘Constructing Norms of Humanitarian Intervention’, in Peter Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  18. George, Liz. 2003. ‘Is oil drawing Bush to Nigeria?’, CNN, 8 July. Google Scholar
  19. Gordon, Michael R. 2000. ‘The 2000 Campaign: The Military; Bush Would Stop U.S. Peacekeeping in Balkan Fights’, New York Times, 21 October. Google Scholar
  20. Gwertzman, Bernard. 2003. ‘Lyman: Liberia Issue Dogged Bush’s Africa Trip’, Council on Foreign Relations, 14 July. Google Scholar
  21. Holzgrefe, J.L. 2003. ‘Humanitarian Intervention Debate’, In J. L. Holzgrefe and O. Keohane Robert (eds.), Humanitarian Intervention: Ethical, Legal and Political Dilemmas. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Hyman, Lester. 2003. United States Policy Towards Liberia: 1822 to 2003: Unintended Consequences?. Cherry Hill, NJ: Africana Homestead Legacy Publishers.Google Scholar
  23. ICISS (International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty). 2001. The Responsibility to Protect: Report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.Google Scholar
  24. Ioan, Lewis, and James Mayall. 2007. ‘Somalia’, in Mats Berdal and Spyros Economides (eds.), United Nations Interventionism 1991–2004. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Knudsen, Tonny. 1997. Humanitarian Intervention Revisited: Post-Cold War Responses to Classical Problems. In The UN, Peace and Force, ed. Michael Pugh. London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  26. Kuperman, Alan. 2009. A Small Intervention: Lessons from Liberia 2003. In Naval Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations: Stability from the Sea, ed. James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen. New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Liberia. 1848. The independent Republic of Liberia: Its Constitution and Declaration of Independence: Address of the Colonists to the Free People of Color in the United States, with Other Documents: Issued Chiefly for the Use of the Free People of Color. Philadelphia: W.F. Geddes, Printer.Google Scholar
  28. Library of Congress. 2010. ‘Colonization: The African-American Mosaic’, 23 July. http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam002.html (accessed at 31 March 2018).
  29. Luck, Edward C. 2009. ‘Sovereignty, Choice and the Responsibility to Protect’, Global Responsibility to Protect 1 (1): 10–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mandelbaum, Michael. 1996. ‘Foreign Policy as Social Work’. Foreign Affairs Vol. 75, no. 1 (January/February): 16–32.Google Scholar
  31. Moghalu, Kingsley. 2005. Rwanda’s Genocide: The Politics of Global Justice. London: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Murphy, Sean. 2006. United States Practice in International Law: Volume 2, 2002–2004. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG). 2001. National Energy Policy. Washington, DC: The White House, 17 May.Google Scholar
  34. Nuechterlein, Donald Edwin. 2005. Defiant Superpower: The New American Hegemony. Washington, DC: Potomac Books.Google Scholar
  35. Oyebade, Adebayo, and Toyin Falola. 2008. ‘West Africa and the United States in Historical Perspective’,  in Alusine Jalloh and Toyin Falola (eds.), The United States and West Africa: Interactions and Relations. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  36. Parekh, Bhikhu. 1997. ‘Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention’, International Political Science Review, Vol. 18, no. 1: 49–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Paye-Layleh, Jonathan. 2002. Liberia Denies Al-Qaeda Link. BBC News, 31 December.Google Scholar
  38. Pflanz, Mike. 2011a. US ‘should not have left Somalia after Black Hawk Down’, sole survivor says. Telegraph, 9 August.Google Scholar
  39. Pflanz, Mike. 2011b. ‘Black Hawk Down: How a Moral Mission to halt famine became America’s worst military disaster in Africa’, Telegraph, 9 August.Google Scholar
  40. Prestholdt, Jeremy. 2013. ‘The United States and Counterterrorism in Eastern Africa’, in Everard Meade and William Aceves (eds.), Lessons and Legacies of the War on Terror: From Moral Panic to Permanent War. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  41. Roberts, Adam. 1999. ‘The Role of Humanitarian Issues in International Politics in the 1990s’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 81, no. 833: 19–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Roberts, Adam. 2006. ‘The United Nations and Humanitarian Intervention’, in Jennifer M. Welsh (ed.), Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Robertson, Geoffrey. 2012. Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle For Global Justice. London: Penguin.Google Scholar
  44. Ross Jr., Blair A. 2005. The U.S. Joint Task Force Experience in Liberia. Military Review 85: 60–67.Google Scholar
  45. Singh, Robert. 2006. The Bush Doctrine. In The Bush Doctrine and the War on Terrorism: Global Responses, Global Consequences, ed. Mary Buckley and Robert Singh. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Sirleaf, Amos (2000). The Role of the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) in the Liberian Civil Conflict 1980–1997: A Case Study of Conflict Management. Washington DC: Blackology Research and Development Institute.Google Scholar
  47. Stedman, Stephen John ‘The New Interventionists’. 1993. Foreign Affairs 72 (Winter): 1–16.Google Scholar
  48. Talbot, Chris. 2003 July 7. Bush Administration Divided Over Intervention in Liberia. World Socialist Web Site.Google Scholar
  49. Tan, Kok-Chor. 2006. The Duty to Protect. In Nomos XLVII: Humanitarian Intervention, ed. Terry Nardin and Melissa Williams. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Taylor, Ian. 2010. The International Relations of Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  51. The Guardian. 2003 August 11. Liberian President Taylor Steps Down.Google Scholar
  52. UN Press Release. 1999 ‘Secretary-General Presents his Annual Report to the General Assembly’, SG/SM/7136-GA/9596, 20 September. Google Scholar
  53. United Nations General Assembly. 2005 October 24. ‘2005 World Summit Outcome’, A/RES/60/1.Google Scholar
  54. United Nations General Assembly. 2009 January 12. ‘Implementing the responsibility to protect: report of the Secretary-General’, A/63/677.Google Scholar
  55. United Nations Secretary-General. 2000 March 30. We the Peoples: The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century. Report of the UN Secretary-General, A/ 54/2000.Google Scholar
  56. United Nations Secretary-General. 2003. ‘Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Liberia’, S/2003/875, 11 September.Google Scholar
  57. United Nations. 1999. Report of the Independent Inquiry into the Actions of the United Nations During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, 12 December. Google Scholar
  58. US Department of State (Bureau of International Organizational Affairs). 1996. ‘Clinton Administration Policy on Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations’ (PDD-25), 22 February. Google Scholar
  59. US Department of State. 2003a. ‘Background Note: Liberia’, 17 February.Google Scholar
  60. US Department of State. 2003b. ‘US Policy Toward Liberia’, 2 October.Google Scholar
  61. USA Today. 2003. ‘Bush Orders Troops to Liberia’, 25 July.Google Scholar
  62. Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. 2004. ‘Nothing Left to Lose: The Legacy of Armed Conflict and Liberia’s Children’, 28 June.Google Scholar
  63. Weiner, Tim. 2003. ‘200 U.S. Marines Land in Liberia to Aid African Force’, New York Times, 15 August. Google Scholar
  64. Welsh, Jennifer. 2009. ‘The Rwanda Effect: Development and Endorsement of the “Responsibility to Protect’, in Phil Clark and Zachary Kaufman (eds.), After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond, p. 333–350. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  65. Wertheim, Stephen. 2010. ‘A Solution from Hell: The United States and the Rise of Humanitarian Interventionism, 1991–2003’, Journal of genocide Research, Vol. 12, No. 3–4 (September- October): 149–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Westcott, Kathryn. 2003. ‘Liberia’s Historical US Ties’, BBC News,  26 June. Google Scholar
  67. Wheeler, Nicholas. 2000. Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  68. White House. 2002. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Washington, DC: The White House.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloon Tong, KowloonHong Kong

Personalised recommendations