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United States Foreign Policy and the Second Liberian Civil War

GK Kieh


After about three years following the end of its first civil war in 1996, Liberia was again plunged into another civil war, when the Liberian United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), a group of rebels, attacked the country from neighbouring Guinea. The efforts by the Taylor regime to repel the attack occasioned a full-scale war. Initially, the war was confined to the western and north-western portions of the country. But, by early 2003, LURD’s forces had advanced to the outskirts of Monrovia, the capital city. For the initial four years of the war, the United States displayed a  nonchalant attitude. This was because Liberia was no longer of any strategic value to the US. Also, given the adversarial relationship between the Taylor regime and Washington, the latter thus had no empathy for the former. However, amid the escalation of the war and its attendant adverse consequences, especially the death of hundreds of civilians, ECOWAS, the AU, the EU, the UN and various actors within the American domestic setting, including Liberian Diaspora Groups, pressured the Bush administration to join the efforts to end the carnage. Consequently, the Bush administration obliged. After an ECOWAS-brokered agreement that led to the resignation of President Taylor and his subsequent departure to Nigeria in exile, the United States intervened by supporting ECOWAS’ peacekeeping operation. Against this backdrop, this article has interrelated purposes. First, it examines the nature and dynamics of American intervention in the second Liberian civil war. Second, it discusses the impact of the American intervention on the civil war. Third, it maps out the emerging trajectory of US– Liberia relations in the post-Taylor era. Fourth, it proffers ways of rethinking the relationship so that it would be mutually beneficial.

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eISSN: 0850-7902