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Friday, June 20, 2003
And when are the Dutch going to rescue New Amsterdam?
The New Republic's Peter Beinart takes the US to task for hypocrisy. Because we're all acting triumphalist about how we helped in Iraq while Old Europe sat around baking cookies and being useless -- but meanwhile, back in Africa, France and England have been solving problems (in the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, respectively) while the US is too busy watching American Idol to do anything. Okay, that argument has some merit. At least until you hear Beinart's reasoning:
Compare that with what the United States has done--or not done--in Liberia. Liberia is as American as Côte d'Ivoire is French or Sierra Leone British. Founded in 1847 by returning American slaves, Liberia's flag resembles the Stars and Stripes. Its capital, Monrovia, is named for America's fifth president. During the cold war, it was America's closest West African ally. Yet the United States, which pledges to bring security and liberty to a vast new sphere of influence in the Middle East and Central Asia, has done nothing of the sort in Liberia, a sphere of U.S. influence for 150 years.
Hmm. France ruled the Ivory Coast up until 1960. The UK ruled Sierra Leone for 150 years, up until 1961. The United States ruled Liberia up until -- oh yeah, never. It was founded in 1822, and became a formal republic in 1847. And the US? Never ran the place. Liberia was never a colony of the United States.

So how exactly does Beinart conclude that "Liberia is as American as Côte d'Ivoire is French or Sierra Leone British? Are there some historical ties between Liberia and the US? Sure. But that's not in any way comparable to actually being an American colony.

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