20 February 2013

Liberia: Rejecting Proxy War Emperors


THOSE LIBERIANS—POLITICIANS, public servants, private interests—engaged in drugging gangs and thugs with cash and handouts, and perhaps narcotics, to stand up to their perceived or real opponents must desist from this cowardly method of easing their thirsts for personal vendettas. This did not help any warring faction and their lords yesterday, and will surely not help their white-collar successors today. As sufficiently proven during the civil conflict, the tendency of drugging and programming militias to prosecute venal and egoistic battles did not prove adequate and successful for evil-adored politicians and militarists. Every virulent warring scheme begot its crudest rival scheme subsequently. And for nearly 16 years, no one claimed victory; and if there was any victory at all to talk about, it is that the principles—the financiers and lords of the war have prevailed. They remain alive and intact, or have recovered all they lost during the conflict, while those they drugged and sent to fight their proxy wars are either dead, disfigured or currently remain imprisoned in the valley of destitution.

IT IS MALEVOLENCE to the highest degree that beneficiaries of the deadly crisis, who thrived directly or indirectly on the carcasses of the "masses of the people", would reinvent the "monkey fight to die, baboon sponsor to draw" tactic of the civil conflict into its modern archetype. Using cash and handouts in present day Liberia to lure an unsuspecting group of citizens into street demonstrators against opponents is no less a crime as arming and drugging militias to commit arson and mass murder yesterday. Both acts are equal in their magnitude because they are rooted in the flagrant abuse of affluence, taking advantage of unequal power dynamics and deepening unwarranted national hate and conflict.

FINANCE MINISTER AMARA Konneh and Lawmaker Acarious Gray, now trading allegations of masterminding street demonstrations against each other are certainly not alone in this naked act of abusing the vulnerability of young people to set them against each other. They may not be original offshoots of the civil conflict version of taking innocent Liberians into battle they neither knew about nor believed in. But from their utterances, and from what pundits make of the brouhaha between these two young Liberians currently enjoying reasonable entitlement to the state coffers, we are convinced that they have proven themselves purely akin to war lords and wartime politicians who exploited the indigence of Liberians and put them in harms' way.

TO GRAY AND Konneh, and to all other politicians and activists similarly involved in, or inclined to replicate, the stratagem of surrogate warfare, we want to say this: The abuse of impoverished Liberians—luring innocent paupers into shedding their precious sweat or blood or life for a few penny—has got a heavy price to pay. Even those who are evading justice from horrendous crimes of the civil conflict, history is poised to serve as the final arbiter, and both wartime, abusers of Liberians and their civilian, postwar kin and kith await common fate. And the verdict of history, whenever it comes, shall be grounded in the caveat that if affluence cannot be used to better the lot of the people, it should not drag the people into annihilation.

THERE IS NO doubt that arguments abound in opposition to our stand, for there are proponents who contend that public demonstrations or the rise of a people against constituted authority is a constitutionally guaranteed right, particularly when there are no traces of external coercion and the "when their safety and happiness so require." This counterargument, however, could be valid and incontestable if present-day demonstrators, like their wartime militia counterparts, showed signs of conservancy of the issues that got them in the struggles or the when those struggles they prosecuted provided them any "safety and happiness" so required.

WHETHER IT WAS militia during the civil war or a demonstrator in postwar Liberia, haven't we seen the "proxy warriors" left as jetsam and flotsam of the struggles to which they were lured? Have these foot soldiers shown any inkling of understanding the conflict they participate in? Do they look or act like stakeholders that have a history of ideological link and partnership with their lords or sponsors? Politicians must leave poor Liberians alone if they can't help them. Stop dehumanizing our people with handouts to take to the streets with placards they are unable to read or understand the motive behind them. The day of reckoning will come.

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