Africa Notes: Liberia - A Casualty of the Cold War's End - July 1995
July 1, 1995
Half a decade ago, with the Berlin Wall coming down and the Soviet Union entering its final days, a small-scale conflict in West Africa quietly put post-cold war U.S. foreign policy to an early test. Liberia's civil war, which began with a cross-border raid by a tiny rebel band in late 1989, has claimed the lives of 1 out of every 17 people in the country, uprooted most of the rest, and destroyed a once-viable economic infrastructure. The strife has also spread to Liberia's neighbors, contributing to a slowing of the democratization that was progressing steadily through West Africa at the beginning of the decade and destabilizing a region that already was one of the world's most marginal. U.S. taxpayers have footed a sizable bill-over $400 million to date-for emergency aid that arguably never would have been needed had Washington used its considerable clout to help end the killing.