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August 06, 2003
JIM DUNNIGAN IS NOT OPTIMISTIC about the prospects for fixing things in Liberia:
To stop the fighting, you have to intimidate the teenage gunmen into giving up their weapons and force them to go back to subsistence farming, because that's all that's left. Billions of dollars in infrastructure has been destroyed, and donors are not lining up to replace it. Firestone is gradually leaving and other foreign firms only want to come in quickly and take diamonds or lumber. No one wants to set up a business in a country where the people hate each other in 34 different languages. There are no easy answers to the problems in Liberia, there aren't many hard answers either. Africa's last colony wants someone to come in and put the pieces back together. But no one is eager to do the job. Neighboring African countries, who have a direct interest in maintaining peace in the region, want the United States to help subsidize the peacekeeping. Even the neighbors don't want to get lost in Liberia.
Nothing you couldn't solve with a few thousand executions, and a few tens of billions of dollars. I doubt, however, that the international community has the stomach for either.