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Europe

European Press Review: Regime Change Wanted in Liberia

European newspapers on Tuesday compared U.S. intervention in Iraq with its efforts to push for a regime change in Liberia.

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West African peacekeeping troops arrive in Liberia.

The London Financial Times wrote that U.S. policy seems to be focused on little more than "regime change" in Liberia, just as it was in Iraq. Far too little thought has gone into the subsequent reconstruction and stabilization, it said, but that’s what Liberia needs. The rebel forces will not provide a nice alternative government; they are guilty of many of the same atrocities. The paper concluded that a prolonged period of institution building is needed, guaranteed by a strong external power. For the benighted Liberian people, that means the United States rather than anyone else.

Commenting on the arrival of the first peacekeepers in Liberia, the Spanish daily La Vanguardia said it’s not the first time that West African troops have been deployed to restore peace to the country. But it stressed that this time, the mission must be backed by the entire world community if it is to have a chance of success.

Italy’s Corriere della Sera pointed out that while all warring factions have expressed satisfaction with the arrival of the peacekeeping forces, which were given a heroes’ welcome by the exhausted population of Monrovia, the day of truth will not be till next Monday, when President Taylor has pledged to step down. But what will happen, the Rome-based daily asked, if he doesn’t go into exile at the same time, as he has also promised?

The French newspaper, La Croix commented that an international peacekeeping force is needed in Iraq, and said that the opponents of military intervention in that country should resist the temptation of saying "I told you so!" They may feel a sense of satisfaction that they were proved right but should not want the Americans to get stuck in Iraq, the paper said. It concluded by saying that in the end, it’s the Iraqis who are suffering, for they are the ones who have to bear the consequences and insecurity of the post-war period.

Under the heading "Bush’s oil move backfires," The Guardian wrote that oil is dribbling, rather than pumping, from Iraq’s bomb-blasted oil industry. Sabotage and theft, the British paper said, mean Iraq’s oil production remains at a fraction of the levels achieved under

Saddam Hussein. With reconstruction failing to take off, it argued, there is little sign of a post-Ba’athist dividend in the form of low oil prices. The result is that U.S. action in Iraq has not weakened Opec, and hence Saudi Arabia, but strengthened it.