THERE ARE FEW things that Liberia must do to once and for all—and effectively—signify its total graduation from the period of conflict and the beastly impressions it carries in the last two decades. Liberia was in effect a problem child of the international community, wholly depended on external handout and solution for everything it needed to remain afloat. The horrors and mayhems of the conflict portrayed nearly every citizen, whether at home or abroad, and be it a fighter or an unarmed civilian, a crude animal unfit for coexistence with humanity. It is nearly ten years since the conflict ended, yet perceptions are still mixed whether Liberia has graduated from those dark days and has assumed or reassumed the sane, humane and productive character for which it was widely known before the civil crises. There is a lineup of things that must be done—bold steps that must be taken—in order to signify to the world at large, and to critics and skeptics in particular, that this erstwhile beacon of hope and liberation in Africa has taken back its rightful seat in the community of nations.
IN THE LAST decade or so, the nation has disarmed itself. It has cleaned up its land, air and sea entrances and has received throngs of distinguished personalities and organizations who returned to their homes in awe for the short and catchy progress they have seen made in the country. Twice the country dived in the tumultuous seas of elections and survived unscathed, while others who have long had peace with themselves left behind scores of deaths and hurt with democratic elections during the same period. Many Liberians in their private and public capacities are recognized as leading actors in international affairs. Amid these monumental achievements, there still remain questions that can only be answered with a few more steps to take and a few more prove of complete normality to provide. Sending a troop of Liberians to fight along internationally sanctioned intervention force in Mali is just one of the remaining bold steps to take.
OPPOSITION HAS BEEN expressed in several quarters. There are critics who think the Liberian army is plagued by numerical and logistical inadequacies. Others say the new army is still in its puberty and may not be able to accommodate the ideological and technological demands that an international military force may require. But those arguments appear to be authentic only in the minds of individuals who unfortunately think the excuse of the last civil war should continue to tie down a nation yearning for progress and adventure in this modern age in the abyss of unending reliance on external forces. Every nation has had its dark day but used the lessons from such a period as motivating force to recover and develop as fast as they could. The United States and its European allies, wrecked by the tumult of World War I, weren't prepared enough for another conflict of a more cataclysmic conflict as World War II. If they had made the excuse of just coming out of a devastating war, the course of world history would not what we have today.
TOO MANY LIBERIANS have taken comfort in the consolatory excuse of "we have just come out of a war" that they are not only obscuring the line between landmark strides made since the last ten years and what is left to be done but only drowning the nation into the lake of perpetual dependency and laziness. No nation, including those that came here and die to end our civil conflict, has got the full strength of its military to prevent the abuse of civilians or the coercive imposition of power-hungry juntas like the Taureg rebels in Mali. Liberia is a fat beneficiary of external intervention to halt the menace of armed conflict. We cannot therefore ignore the cries of the people of Mali and the rallying call of the international community. Refusing such a calling is not only a moral disincentive but a slap in the face of those who helped to get us where we are today as a nation—the international community.
IF THE STRENGTH of the army is the excuse, then our note to Government and its partners would be to continue to train additional troops to beef the number. If the age, youngness of the army is the excuse, the answer is the maxim, "the age of Methuselah has got nothing to do with the Wisdom of Solomon." And this is enforced by the fact that in the age of technology, the age of militaries doesn't matter. What matters in the instance is logistics and leadership without which the international community cannot send troops for intervention. And we don't believe that our leaders and their international community that have solidified our national security over the years would leave the country vulnerable.