Commentary: Is a New ‘New War’ Inevitable in Liberia?


By Julius K. Kanubah

The major fault-lines and triggers of large-scale territorial violence remain inherent in Liberia, despite about 17 years of peace without men and women marauding in guns and drugs.

No further explanation is needed, except that we suggest this dynamic interplay of the looming perils: almost all major political leaders and major political parties and their corresponding coalitions and collaborations have and continue to work, to strengthen, and to consolidate their relations and networks with war-time command and control structures and actors of violence, carnage, pillage, and plunder. Even new social and political activists prefer to have violent actors and structures of our wars by their side and within their groups under the various nomenclatures of ‘Council’, ‘Patriots’, ‘Rebranding’, ‘The Light’, and so on…

Julius K. Kanubah

In doing so, the ‘Liberian State’ as a territorial arrangement remains within the grips of violent actors whose aim it is to polarize newly, but partially enfranchised and largely marginalized citizens, especially in the peripherals of our polity, while maintaining their grips on institutional power and the attending economic resources and benefits.
We might think that democracy embodies a peaceful order, but this is only a part of the complex story of democratization processes. Democracy is and of itself an embodiment of violence. There has been ‘The Violence of Democracy in Liberia’ in the recent past as some scholars have reminded us. And since the ‘New Wars’ after the Cold War, it is still a possibility that we might see a New ‘New War’ in Liberia, having already been one of the epicenters of the first ‘New Wars’ of the 1990s.

The logic is simple: associating with violent war-time command and control structures and actors is a good recipe for the entrenchment of a violent order. For example, the Superintendent of Grand Gedeh County, Kai Farley, is a junior warlord figure, appointed by George Weah, a democratically elected President.

Yekeh Kolubah, a democratically elected Member of the House of Representatives, is similarly a junior warlord figure, who is warmly embraced by the leaders of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) of Alexander Cummings, Joseph Boakai, Benoni Urey, and the Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence – Abraham Darius Dillon. Imagine Dillon, as a democratically elected Senator, is now threatening to prematurely “end” the Weah presidency, once he, Dillon, is or feels cheated at the polls. Prematurely “ending” a presidency, as a Senator and, let’s assume, a defeated candidate, is un-Brumskine! Charles Brumskine of the 2000s preached and utilised the rule of law, no matter the obvious weakness of our judiciary, until his death.

Regarding our looming dangers, just take a count and see the links, networks, and relations between and amongst our political leaders and political parties and the violent actors and structures of our wars. Just imagine those ‘rebranding’ or reviving from death the war-time political party (ALCOP) of violent warlord Alhaji G.V. Kromah, and those celebratorily welcoming ‘The Mother of the Revolution’, or, we should say, “Their Mother of their Revolution”, of the wicked warlord and war criminal Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party (NPP).

‘Warmonger’ Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will feel happy, at least, that there is a “Mother of the Revolution”, after all. So, perhaps, Winston Tubman, was right: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a ‘warmonger’, because there is a known “Mother of the Revolution” in Agnes Tupee-Taylor, although interestingly, both claimed to be War Humanitarians. Jewel Howard-Taylor, the current troubled Vice President of Liberia and crisis-proned political leader of the Charles Taylor war-time party (NPP), should feel some relieve, that she is not alone, in rightly, bearing and carrying the burden of being a one-time wife of the very wicked warlord Charles Taylor.

Indeed, almost all major political leaders and political parties and some newly forged political activism groups are all working with war-time structures and actors of violence and plunder. The Weah, the McGill, the Koijee, the CDC must not just be our primary focus of concern in terms of democratic reversal. Let’s look within. We too have ‘spoilers’ and spoiled characters of our violent and bitter past in our midst. Indeed, Acarous Gray, did remind us of a ‘bitter Liberia’ in the course of our democratisation and, how the CDC will govern its people and partisans while those who don’t belong to the CDC must stand ready for the battle for survival in a bitter Liberia. We are in this battle of bitterness!

If the next New ‘New War’ in Liberia is to be averted, it is time, we define and specify who we are, who we network and associate with, and what we need as in the national interests void of perpetuating the violent structures and actors within the realms of power, authority, and wealth and everyday social relationships and practices. No doubt, these violent actors are all Liberians, but Liberia, it seems, will not ‘develop’, ‘prosper’, or even ‘get better’ with men and women who believe in nothing, but a violent order.