NIGERIA IN LIBERIA------
It is often said that a picture is worth more than a thousand words. This one was worth a billion sentences and more. Yes, the picture of Nigerian Colonel Emeka Onwuamaegbu borne aloft by the tumultuous crowds of war-weary Liberian youths rose far beyond anything one would ordinarily describe as priceless. It showcased a scene not usually seen in the continent of Africa - a mammoth crowd of peace-hungry Africans celebrating their own brother from a neighboring country as a hero. That was as good as it could ever get in the continent of Africa.
The people who were used to being lofted and high-fived in Sub-Saharan Africa were mainly white colonialists and their foreign missionary allies. So, the picture of youthful Liberians hoisting and celebrating a brother from Nigeria as a hero cannot be anything less than priceless. I do not care what the promos of credit card companies might claim. Neither the dollar bills now officially nicknamed "dead presidents" in the latest edition of Webster's dictionary of American English, nor Visa that claims to be everywhere you want to be, nor even Mastercard that touts itself as priceless, could ever purchase Onwuamaegbu's triumphal ride on the shoulders of dancing youths in Monrovia. Deservedly it reigned as the photograph of choice by the world media all through last week.
Remember when primitive black Africans were forced to convert their bewildered and saggy shoulders into vehicular transportations for bulky white colonialists and their foreign missionary partners? Some of our black kinsmen and women who were successfully cargoed across the Atlantic had their shoulders chiseled smooth and cushioned in order to complement the efforts of horses and donkeys in providing regular shoulder-transportation to their plantation masters. Those were the days when shoulder-commute by slave masters was the ultimate subjugation and humiliation. But Onwuamaegbu's jolly-ride on the shoulders of the youths of Monrovia was different. His was as a result of a spontaneous outburst of joy over the sacrifice of some African brothers and sisters from Nigeria who had come to liberate their civil-war-interlocked Liberian relatives that had been scorned and abandoned by the derelict international community. Liberians reacted exactly the way that is natural to most indigenous Africans. They lifted their potential savior high in jubilation. That shoulder-ride for Col. Onwuamaegbu was in fact the dramatization of the inimitable African gratitude and hospitality.
In America, the uncrowned king of the global print media, the New York Times [NYT], accorded Onwuamaegbu's "frequent-flyer" photograph its highest honor as the best photo-news of the day's "all the [photograph] that's fit to print" by posting it as its attention-grabber-headline on August 05. In fact that was the second time in less than a week that the venerable NYT was according such a rare privilege to Nigeria and her troops. On August 1, the world's number one newspaper had featured on the same spot a Nigerian military officer being "eye-telescoped" by inquisitive Liberian lads peering through a wound up glass window of one of the cars of a convoy of Nigerian military officers that were assessing the situation of Liberia prior to the deployment of the trail-blazing Nigerian peacekeepers. But Onwuamaegbu's picture was not only priceless it was indeed a one-in-a-lifetime experience both for him personally and for Nigeria as a whole. In fact it did more to burnish Nigeria's image across the world than perhaps the 100-plus ill-advised oversea trips President Obasanjo had accomplished in his first four years in office.
However, the lofty photograph of Col. Onwuamaegbu, though sublime and supremely priceless, was not the only priceless photographic image that procured Nigeria's coup de grace in Liberia this past week. In fact the most dramatic image of Monday, August 04, in my view, and also the one that presented Nigeria in a way that had hardly been seen before, was that of the combat-ready Nigerian soldiers ducking for cover as they dismounted and positioned themselves for a potential counterattack at Monrovia International Airport. Immediately the UN copter touched down at the war-battered airport, a detachment of Nigerian peacekeepers serving as vanguard forces of the proposed international peacekeeping forces alighted and staged such sophisticated battle maneuvers that could rival those of the superpowers. For once the whole world saw our nimble Nigerian soldiers in a combat mood. And it was absolutely fantastic. In fact it did not detract much from the images of the American troops that have been streaming into our living rooms since the past few months of Iraq war! In the context of the quagmired war of attrition in Iraq, the little display of the Nigerian troops at Monrovia airport was at least good for a change.
The little maneuver at Monrovia airport played out perfectly like one of those Hollywood war-inspired movies. The gung-ho, fatigue-donning, steel-helmeted, fierce-looking and jackbooted Nigerian troops waving menacing arsenals raced and crouched beside the low shrubs of the partly overgrown airport in readiness for a possible counterattack either from the disheveled rebel forces of LURD or from the pro-Charles Taylor government ragtag fighters. It was an exercise in military gallantry. For a moment I thought I was watching a replay of the US Marines securing the international airport of Haiti in September of 1994. But seeing no Black Hawk hovering or landing in tandem, and seeing no Star-Spangled Banner fluttering and clattering in the wind, it dawned on me that I was in fact watching a totally different movie. In a split second I would realize that I was actually watching our own Nigerian troops improvising for Black Hawk helicopters with the white-painted civilian relief copters of the UN. But not withstanding their deficient military hardware, the Nigerian vanguard soldiers displayed such a mastery of battlefield theatrics that would have impressed even the most scoffing military of the superpowers of the world.
And most of the world was impressed by the Nigerian forces' tactical seizure of the Monrovia airport. Even the veteran American general, the former Pentagon's chairman of Joint chiefs of staff, one of the principal heroes of Gulf War 1 and the current secretary of state of the Bush administration, Secretary Colin Powell could not hold back his happiness over the Nigerian forces' gallantry in Monrovia. And for almost the first time that I can recall Powell was able to spare some words of praise to Nigeria and her troops. Hear him: "the Nigerians showed up in good order, and more forces are arriving. And they're starting to establish a sense of security and, I think, put hope back in the hearts of the Liberian people" (NYT, August 07). Black Hawk landing or not, that contingent of the Nigerian armed forces that secured the Monrovia airport on Monday, August 4, held their own and perhaps showed the reason why Nigeria deserved to be recognized, respected and praised by the international community as possessing a modern military that could discharge international assignments with speed and precision. For once I was proud of Nigeria, a rarity for me in these days of our nation's democratic missteps and confusion.
But far more important than the mere burnishing of the image of Nigeria and her troops abroad was the fact that the Nigerian armed forces, a third world military formation, clearly stole the show from the celebrated American Marines. Imagine the dark horse of a nation like Nigeria snatching the thunder from the hands of the sole superpower of planet earth! That was exactly what had happened in Liberia this past week. Nigeria sparkled in Monrovia, doing a Black Hawk maneuver with UN civilian helicopters, while the awe-inspiring US Marines equipped with the most sophisticated military aircrafts and arsenal the world has ever seen were unjustifiably tucked away somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. While the Nigerian military showed bravery and were rewarded for it by the adoring crowds of Liberia, the US Marines were condemned by the Bush administration to steal into Monrovia in trickles like a band of fear-struck spies. That was absolutely unfair to the great Marines who are famous for daring the impossible. To be made to look like fear-stricken soldiers who were afraid of being routed and overwhelmed by the disorganized bands of warring militias in Liberia is something which rationale I have been grappling to understand. What was the reason for hiding the Marines somewhere on the Ocean and allowing the Nigerians to take both the initiatives and the victory lap?
However, the stage could not have been better laid out for the embattled nation of Nigeria to Cape Diem. Nigeria, which had been longing for a kaleidoscoped occasion to sell her image to the world as a responsible and dependable nation with a disciplined military, was offered one on a platter in Monrovia. And she did go for it. The usually hawkish (but lately cold-footed) President George W. Bush having ordered the notoriously fearless US Marines to keep vigil two hundred miles off the coast of Liberia even as Liberia lay desolate with her inhabitants disconsolate and dying in droves, had prepared the way for the Nigerian army to swoop into Monrovia as heroes. That was exactly what Nigeria had done this past week. And that left the US Marines the uncomfortable options of either taking a bow and steaming back to America or to venture into Liberia as auxiliary forces, a strange qualification indeed for the mighty Marines of superpower America. The indecision of the Bush administration on the issue of Liberia brought the US Marines the unnecessary grief of having to trickle and steal into the streets of Monrovia like auxiliary forces instead of playing their more natural role as vanguard forces, which their training and superpower stature oblige on them.
The most natural and perhaps the best way America could have engaged the war-torn Liberia was for the Marines to make a dramatic overrun of the tiny country, which in fact could have amounted to a triumphal walk-over and a victory procession. The Marines could have immediately seized all the strategic cities of the war-battered nation, and quickly restored some semblance of order in the few major cities of their interest. After all that, which could have lasted only for a couple of months or so, they could have quickly turned over the entire country to the West African Peacekeepers leaving behind only a handful of their members to monitor their activities. Such an approach would have brought America lots of dignity and respect in the continent of Africa. This could have undoubtedly helped repair the battered image of the US in the continent. America could have had all the glory that was lavished on the Nigerians who in fact had not needed it as much as the Americans. If President Bush had pulled off such a feat his standing among Africans and friends of Africa would have skyrocketed. But his failure to act promptly in Liberia may have cost him the little goodwill he had garnered by visiting Africa. He is back to square one as far as Africa and Africans are concerned.
However, rather than gun for a better image of America in Africa through a lucky short-cut provided by the manageable Liberian crisis, rather than use the great opportunity of the crisis to market America in the post-Iraq-war-traumatized world as a nation that cared deeply for the world and a power that could act with minimal consideration for economic and strategic gains, the Bush administration hesitated preferring instead to embark on hedging and delay tactics that had ended up reinforcing the suspicion of most Africans that she was not much of a friend of the continent. Bush's contrived delay in acting in Liberia has painted his recent swing across Africa as only aimed at creating as many photo opportunities as possible to be used for the 2004 election. His inability to act fast in Liberia has in fact resuscitated the chilling implication of his earlier suggestion that the US had no strategic interest in Africa. Even though he has long recanted that statement, his indecision about Liberia seems to suggest that he is still a long way from harmonizing his beautiful words about Africa with his day-to-day actions. The two gestures are still pointing towards opposite directions.
The failure to lead the initiative into Liberia this past week was, in my view, a major loss of opportunity by the Bush administration. That the administration could not see the Liberian crisis as a God-given opportunity for America to do something memorable in Africa is totally incomprehensible to me. Liberia was the easiest assignment America could have ever dreamed of in Africa. You cannot compare the Liberian crisis with what France went through in Ivory Coast or what she is currently facing in the Congo. Liberia was a cakewalk which mother luck presented to the US so as to enable her leave at least a token legacy in Africa. But the Bush administration blew it. In fact, that the administration chose to play a mere subsidiary role in rescuing the only African country that has a blood relationship with America can only reinforce the impression out there that President Bush's compassionate conservatism has only a symbolic value for Africa and Africans.
But one person's loss, they say, is another's gain. The demurring USA provided a window of opportunity for Nigeria to ride into Liberia as heroes of the African continent. The adulation Liberians had readied for the Americans was deservedly given to the Nigerian forces. Somini Sengupta of the New York Times reported about the tumultuous welcome accorded to the Nigerians forces on Thursday August 07, when they first ventured into Monrovia's city center: "At about 12:15 p.m., when the Nigerian peacekeepers' personnel carriers could be seen driving in from the airport, hordes of people ran out of the Samuel K. Doe Stadium, home to 30,000 Liberians displaced by the war. Tens of thousands then packed the streets to welcome the Nigerians…. A convoy of four tanks, three cargo trucks and several white jeeps were met by shouting, cheering mobs. Children ran alongside, stamping their plastic flip-flops in rhythm…. Women came running out of their houses with babies at their hips. They took off their head wraps and swept them along the road, in a gesture of welcome. Others lined the streets, waved with both hands in the air and the nimblest came rushing up to the tanks, eager for a high-five or a handshake with the Nigerians" (NYT August 08).
But the irony of all this is that the Americans needed a heroic welcome to an African country far more urgently than the Nigerians. America in fact needs redemption in Africa. After the fiasco of Somalia in 1993, Africa is still waiting for America to convince her that she is not a quitter when it comes to helping the continent. And a golden opportunity to accomplish just a little of that was lost last week. The truth is, Nigeria, as the country with the largest army in sub-Saharan Africa, does not need to prove anything to any African country. She has proved herself over and over again in the continent with resounding successes. As early as the 60's Nigeria had successfully led a peacekeeping operation in the Congo. It was tremendously successful. Since then the Nigerian military has acquired a tremendous sense of respect among Africans, which the years of military dictatorship in Nigeria could not destroy. But such can hardly be said of the sole superpower of planet earth. She is yet to match Nigeria's success in Africa. Liberia was one opportunity for the US to pull back one of the several break points Nigeria had scored against her in Africa over the years. But she let that opportunity slip by and allowed Nigeria to roll on as the real power with meaning for the West African sub-region.
Then came late 80's when Charles G. Taylor launched his guerrilla campaign against the government of Samuel K. Doe. Around 1989 when the National Patriotic Front of Charles Taylor was first heard of in the northern part of Liberia, it was treated as a ragtag militia formation that could easily be rounded up and taken care of by the government forces of Samuel Doe. Sgt. Doe himself gave the world that impression. But as time went on, NPF gathered momentum, thanks to Muomar Qadafi, the godfather and financier of the then rebel Charles Taylor. When Taylor and his rebels threatened to overrun Monrovia, Doe appealed to the then government of Ibrahim Babangida of Nigeria who sent in a large contingent of the Nigerian armed forces that stopped Taylor's rebel rampage dead on its tracks.
Monrovia was spared any devastation by the Nigerians. For many years, Nigeria held off Charles Taylor and his rebels, forcing them to embrace the democratic process of an election. Since the rebels were in possession of the larger part of Liberia and had the freedom to manipulate the elections howsoever they pleased, Taylor came to power in 1997 via a marred but tolerable democratic election and not through guerrilla warfare. But none of these could have happened without the dogged efforts of the Nigerian armed forces. The Obasanjo government recently revealed that the whole Liberian operation in the early 90's had cost Nigeria the lives of 1000 military personnel and twelve billion dollars. Which other country in the world has sent that much aid to Liberia?
While Nigeria was preparing to leave Liberia, there was a military coup in the neighboring country of Sierra Leone. The democratic administration was sacked and the coup plotter, Johnny Koroma and his bandits seized power. The Nigerian dictator then, Sani Abacha, without waiting for or consulting either the Americans or the British or the United Nations, sent Nigerian troops into Sierra Leone and got the government of Koroma sacked and ousted from power. General Sani Abacha, a notorious enemy of democracy in Nigeria, single-handedly restored the democratically elected government of Sierra Leone to power. And that was not cost-free to Nigeria by any stretch of the imagination.
The Nigerian army kept propping up and supporting the civilian government of Sierra Leone until the UN took it over. When Sierra Leone became the responsibility of the UN, foreign forces that lacked the resilience and ruggedness of the Nigerian army became the leaders of the UN peacekeeping efforts in the country. The result became almost a fiasco. It was the inability of the new UN peacekeepers to rise to the peculiar challenges of Sierra Leone that allowed the country to degenerate into a civil war. When the situation got so bad, the UN had to literally beg Nigeria to return to Sierra Leone to restore order. That was where Nigerians were until duty called again last week in Liberia. The British that are today taking all the credit in Sierra Leone, even though somehow deservedly so, were nowhere to be found when Nigeria saved the democracy of the country. According to recent estimates Nigeria lost about 700 hundred soldiers and several billions of dollars in her intervention in Sierra Leone. Even the British cannot claim to have delivered that amount of aid to Sierra Leone in her more than forty-year history as a nation. Nigeria did all the dirty job in Sierra Leone for the British, who are in fact a Johnny come lately to the crisis, to come and take all the credit for having procured the country's stabilization. However Nigeria is not begrudging the British because all she desires is a stable and peaceful West African sub-region.
The recent civil war in Ivory Coast created a serious dilemma for Nigeria. Nigeria was challenged and tempted to go and do to Ivory Coast what she had done for the two other countries of the sub-region. In fact the peoples of West Africa were looking up to Nigeria to come and bail out the Ivorians as she had done to the Liberians, Sierra Leoneans and partly to the Gambians. But that war had come at a very inopportune time for Nigeria. The new democratic experiment in Nigeria was faltering and wobbly. There were lots of internal crises in Nigeria as a result of the frosty relationship between the Obasanjo government and the legislature. It appeared as if the legislators would not be in any mood to issue a carte blanche to the president to deploy the Nigeria military as he wished.
Moreover the mood throughout Nigeria then did not favor cooperating with Francophone West African countries in matters relating to internal crisis. Many Nigerians believed that it would not be wise for Nigeria to expend more lives of her citizens defending a Francophone West African country while France, her colonial master was actively working in concert with the advanced countries of the world to chip Nigerian territories away and gift them to some of her former colonies of the region. Nigeria had just lost a boundary case in the International Court in The Hague in which the long hand of the French government was clearly visible in manipulating the case to the favor of Cameroon its former colony. This aroused ill feelings in Nigeria towards the French and their former colonies in Africa. The result was a persistent cry among Nigerians that the French be made to singularly bear the burdens of the civil war in Ivory Coast. Nigeria adamantly resisted being a part of what was happening in that country's civil war. Fortunately, the French government responded to the challenge. Ivory Coast is relatively quiet today. Nigeria did not have to do much to get it back to normalcy.
Even as recently as a few weeks ago the Nigerian government of Olusegun Obasanjo deftly restored the deposed president of the small islands of Sao Tome to power without resorting either to the United Nations or to the United States. The truth is Nigeria has proved herself over and over again in African conflicts. She did not need the tumultuous welcome of the Liberians to validate herself either in Liberia or in any other country of the region. In fact, it can be argued that the Liberians responded to the Nigerians because they knew what they were capable of doing. Nigeria has a great track record in squelching African conflicts. The former ambassador of the US to Nigeria who actually served in Liberia when Nigerian soldiers came calling to restore the battered country wrote treatises about the hardiness and valor of the Nigerian army in that war-torn country. Ambassador Howard Jeter's account totally contrasted with disparages and slanders Nigeria has been receiving lately for her activities in Liberia from the neo-conservatives [neo-cons] of the Bush administration and some roving foreign commentators on African crisis.
The latest slander of the costly Nigerian peacekeeping efforts in West Africa was published in the New York Times of Friday August 08, 2003 (Send In The Marines) in which one Kenneth L. Cain described Nigerian Peacekeepers in Liberia in the early 90's as looters, rapists, murderers, drug dealers and diamond smugglers. Cain, who claimed to have traveled extensively around all the troubled countries of Africa, urged the Bush administration to quickly send in the US Marines into Liberia as a deterrent to the potential atrocities the Nigerians might unleash on the Liberians. For Cain all that Nigeria had achieved for Liberia in the 90's was to loot the country dry and rape all her women. According to him, for their exploits in Liberia, ECOMOG was renamed "Every Conceivable Moving Object Gone." Cain told gory tales of how ECOMOG soldiers, 80% of them of which were Nigerians, raped 9-10 year old girls and murdered them afterwards. Cain's story represented what is fast becoming quite fashionable among the so-called neo-cons that dominate the Bush administration.
Since Liberia became a hot issue in the American news media, the groups of young and middle-aged conservative ideologues whom the Washington Post and the New York Times are fond of describing as neo-cons, and who are dreaming of what they describe as "a new American century of world domination," have taken to disparaging and distorting the peacekeeping records of the Nigerian troops on a daily basis. Listening to such "unfair, unbalanced" and "ideology-driven" channels like the Fox News Channel rant about the Liberian crisis these days you would be lucky not to run into a neo-con pulverizing Nigeria's peacekeeping sacrifices in Africa. This is not withstanding the fact that more than 90% of the pontificating neo-cons have never set foot on African soil and might not have any intention to do so until the next millennium. But they are busy manufacturing slanders to criminalize Nigeria's peacekeeping sacrifices in Africa, which have cost our nation billions of scarce dollars and thousands of precious young lives. But their horrendously negative views of Nigeria's peacekeeping efforts in Liberia for instance are hardly shared by the Liberians themselves. The accounts of people like Kenneth Cain hardly represent what the Liberians themselves are saying about the presence of the Nigerian peacekeepers in their country. Cain and his ilk love to pretend that they know what is best for the peoples of Africa than Africans themselves. And this concurs with the ideology of the neo-cons. They relish appearing patronizing to the peoples of the third world. They love to pretend to be acting in the best interest of the third world countries when actually their interest is to disparage potential rival powers so as to make it easy for their ideology of world domination to prevail. Contrary to the beliefs of people like Kenneth Cain, the Liberians are no fools. They know who is helping them and who is abandoning them to their fate. They saw the Nigerian troops in the 90s as friends and liberators, an impression they strongly reaffirmed only last week by trooping out en masse to welcome them and even lifting one of them high as a gesture of appreciation.
There has hardly been any complaint from the Liberians that I am aware of that the Nigerians who came to liberate them from their fratricidal wars of the early 90s ended up looting their country, running away with their belongings and abandoning them to their fate. The whole rumors about looting by the Nigerian soldiers have always come from the west whose soldiers both now and historically, have never been immune to looting conquered territories and raping their women. I think any sensible person who believes that Liberians are capable of thinking for themselves will immediately discountenance the slanders of the neo-cons and their dubious allies. Kenneth Cain's advice to the Bush administration and his advocacy for a quick sending in of the Marines into Liberia should be heeded not because the US Marines are more virtuous and honorable than their Nigerian counterparts but because they are better trained and better equipped to get the job done quickly. Military morality, though relative to every nation, has always run in similar tracks all through history. Recent events in Iraq have taught us that soldiers are soldiers all over the world. Their actions after a hard-fought battle and during a subsequent euphoric occupation of a conquered territory hardly follow any discernible moral norms.
The simple truth of the moment is that Nigeria deserved all the adulation she had received from the Liberians this past week. But in my view she had not needed it, at least as much as the Americans. Nigeria did not need to prove anything to the Liberians. The Liberians and most peoples of the West African sub-region have always known the Nigerian military as rugged and fearless. The Liberians knew that if Nigerians agreed to come, they would make all the difference as they had done in the past. Nigeria has always been the difference in most African conflicts. But the same can hardly be said of the Americans in Africa. Unlike Nigeria, America had needed the wondrous adulation that was given to the Nigerian soldiers. This is because America is yet to prove herself in Africa and to Africans as such. The Liberian crisis was one great opportunity she could have easily done that with little or no pains at all. Liberia was one place the US Marines could have had the cakewalk that was denied them in Iraq. But incomprehensibly the Bush administration allowed the opportunity to fritter away.
Nigeria does need the military cakewalk it is being treated to in Liberia today. Rather it is America that badly needed such a treatment by an African country. This is because America's proven ability to turn nations around in Europe, Middle East, Asia and Latin America is still a fairy tale in Africa and among Africans. As far as Africa is concerned, America must prove herself to be acknowledged as both caring and indeed a superpower with some relevance to the continent. In fact, the need for America to prove herself in Africa has become far more urgent especially after the fiasco of Somalia in 1993, when the US Marines were defeated by a ragtag Mogadishu militia put together by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization. As a result of that defeat, America as a military superpower needed some kind of an urgent redemption in Africa. This redemption is yet to be accomplished in Africa. And it must happen for America to become believable once again in Africa.
The present image of America in Africa is that of a military that got shocked in a battlefield, it beat a tactless retreat and scampered out of Mogadishu after losing 18 members of their soldiers. And since that time it has been afraid to re-engage Africa militarily. Nigeria, which lost more or less the same number of troops to Bin Laden's al Qaeda in Mogadishu almost at the same time as America, did not quit peacekeeping operations in Africa altogether. That does not mean that Nigeria values her soldiers any less than America. It all means that effecting some real changes in Africa needs some sacrifices and perseverance. Any nation wishing to help Africa overcome her vicious cycle of fratricidal wars must acquire two indispensable virtues, namely, the heart to make a few sacrifices and the mind to persevere. There is no way America can have a half-hearted commitment to peace making in Africa and still remain credible at least to the people of the continent. She must be able to commit as much resources and patience to the continent as she is currently doing in the other continents of the world.
Moreover, America needs some kind of a post-Somalia military redemption in Africa at least for her image in the continent. To the local Africans, the rapid exit of the Americans from Somalia almost amounted to chickening out of a fight. In normal circumstances, that would be seen as humiliating and un-dignifying among Africans talk less the world's sole superpower. African tribes and ethnics do not always chicken out of any fight. They usually fight to the finish. Perhaps this could explain the reason behind the unending cycle of civil wars in the continent. Be that as it may, African ethnics, no matter how small they are, do not always want to be seen as defeated in any fight. Ask the Igbo of Nigeria who are yet to recover from the trauma of losing a civil war in Nigeria. The once great Igbo people have remained diminished in Nigeria and in Africa as a whole ever since they were defeated in Nigeria's civil war of 1967-70.
Until the Somalia tragedy, African tribes men would perhaps imagine a world's superpower as one who had the most enduring power to overcome all obstacles so as to savor victory at the long last. But that was not the image the Marines had left behind in Mogadishu when they folded their tents and hurried home. So the Somalia fiasco is still crying out for some form of a military redemption somewhere in Africa. I couldn't see any other place in Africa where such redemption could have been accomplished at such a non-cost and speed as in Liberia. But the spectacular thrill of the US Marines descending from air and sea to rescue the hobbled nation of Liberia has been lost for good. Nigeria stole America's thunder in Liberia. In the future America will have to search out a place in the continent to stage such an elaborate military exercise that will help restore her superpower image in Africa as well as cover up the lingering stench of the Somalia fiasco of 1993.
David Asonye Ihenacho