Over three years ago, I met George Momodu Kiadii, then a Liberian Ambassador-at-Large appointed by Charles Taylor (who was strongly suspected of destabilizing much of West Africa). U.S. assistance to the Republic of Liberia was being restricted because of Taylor's repressive administration and because Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina), as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was opposed to Taylor. It was generally believed that Senator Helms had supported the Samuel Doe Administration despite its very repressive governance of Liberia, and resented Taylor for his opposition of Doe. After a time, Charles Taylor was removed as Liberian President, free elections were instituted, and Kiadii decided to run for the vacancy. After many months of affiliation with Kiadii, I consented to becoming his senior advisor in his bid for the Presidency.
While I am familiar with the Wilsonian philosophy at emphasizing the morality of all decision and the Kissingerian emphasis on pragmatism, I am confident that political reality dictates a blend of the two. This is the content within which I have counseled Kiadii. A major concern for funding Liberia's rehabilitation, and a presidential candidate such as Kiadii, is the lack of an organized African-American constituency in the U.S. for foreign policy issues affecting Africa. It is important to ask the question “What does Liberia, indeed all of West Africa, mean to the U.S. in terms of national interest?” The answer seems to be oil. Oil from Nigeria and Angola accounts for the 16-18 percent of the U.S. supply and is projected to rise to over 25 percent. This creates a strategic interest for the U.S. In a conversation with Walter Kansteiner, then Assistant Secretary of the U.S. State Department for Africa, he mentioned that West African oil was of strategic importance to the U.S. Only recently has it been confirmed that the potential exists for substantial off-shore oil deposits along the Liberian coastline. While the U.S. seems willing to overlook corruption and violations of human rights to continue the flow of oil, i.e. Nigeria, I support Kiadii because he is both moral and pragmatic. When Liberia's oil is being produced, I would hope the Republic is being led by as person of integrity; a person such as Kiadii, and I feel certain the U.S. view of Liberia will become one of national interest. I consider it vital that the wealth of Liberia's natural resources benefit all of its citizens, not just the elite. A constitutional democracy in Liberia can create a self-sustaining economy that ensures human rights and becomes a model for all African republics. It is my contention that Dr. Kiadii can lead Liberia to such a condition.
Further, Africa could have a significant meaning to the U.S. It represents the largest untapped market in the world for goods and products. However, to realize this market in Africa, poverty and disease, endemic to that continent, must be alleviated and eventually ended. The Republics must become politically stable to encourage corporate investments. In doing so, not only will Africa grow and prosper, with money being spent on U.S. goods, but also allow for its people to become customers for all types of products and services, especially from the U.S.
The energy, intellect, and raw talent of West Africa's citizens are second to none; and the region's cultural heritage is rich and alluring. West Africa, more particularly Liberia, should be prosperous and aggressive; fostering an engine of growth, educational achievement, and a model of human rights for the entire African continent of over 53 independent nations. They should join together in a coalition to have their voices heard and respected in the highest councils of the international community. With respected leaders like Dr. Kiadii, they would be on the forefront of international diplomacy. Liberia should be a major force for good, a beacon of hope for the destitute, a model of constitutional democracy, and a defender of justice and human rights. This is Liberia's destiny.
Throughout its history, Liberia has been a staunch ally, and its support was instrumental in Allied victories during both World Wars. Liberia was a charter member of the League of Nations, and one of the founding members of the United Nations, casting the deciding vote to create the State of Israel. In 1942, Liberia turned over its primary airport to the U.S. for use as a major transit point for thousands of American soldiers and for allied operations in North Africa and Southern Europe. Despite this consistent cooperation with the U.S., there is little evidence of reciprocal support for Liberia. With peace returning to Liberia, will the U.S. now support the people of Liberia? I have been requested by Dr. Kiadii to help build a stable Liberia, a nation founded on equality for all, a nation for the people, by the people, and of the people.