By Wayourou Zadi-Pauyo
In the tripolarization of the Ivory Coast’s political landscape between former president Henri Konan Bédié, former prime minister Alassane Dramane Ouattara, and sitting president Laurent Gbagbo, the general opinion’s flawed tendency to perceive either one of these individuals as half-gods holding the miraculous key to peace and 3-meals-a-day for the 21-million-strong population of the West African country has morphed from an amusing farce to a severe impediment to the peaceful resolution of the post-electoral deadlock and, by extension, of the 20-year crisis the country has been enduring.
This vasly erroneous perception, compounded by acute pressures from powerful neo-colonialist interests (namely from France and the peon institutions it manipulates, i.e. the United Nations Security Council and the ECOWAS), fuels the dangerous escalation of the Ivorian crisis while simultaneously misguiding their strategic allocation of diplomatic influence in the direction of an all-out civil war.
As the “military option”, i.e. a civil war — aggressively peddled by current French president Nicolas Sarkozy, his long-time friend Alassane Ouattara (so close, in fact, that then-mayor Sarkozy was handpicked to officiate at Ouattara’s second marriage to übber-connected French businesswoman Dominique Nouvian in the wealthy Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine in 1991), the United Nations (incidentally founded to eradicate the rule of war from human affairs) and, unbelievably enough, by Barack Obama (elected as the solution to the Bush imperialism) — continues to gain momentum, a critical evaluation of the theories underneath the pro-war argument is imperative to the emergence of a solution capable of breaking the velocity of the civil collapse.
Before diving in to the heart of the problem, let’s consider the type of homicidal metrics a liberal war in the Ivory Coast could generate. We obtain these hypothetical figures from the actual death toll from the civil wars next door, in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
LIBERIAN WAR NUMBERS
Liberia had a pre-war population of roughly 3 million inhabitants. By the time the conflict officially ended in 2005, 250,000 men, women, and children had been murdered. 1.2 million were displaced, their homes destroyed, their life forever shattered.
From the above, it is possible to decompose the Liberian civil war as follows:
Homicide Rate ≈ 8.33%
[(250,000 / 3,000,000) x 100 ≈ 8.33%]
Displacement Rate ≈ 40.66%
[(1,220,000 / 3,000,000) x 100 ≈ 40.66%]
SIERRA LEONE WAR NUMBERS
Sierra Leone had a pre-war population of 4.5 million inhabitants. By the time it ended, 75,000 men, women, and children had passed away and a staggering 2.5 million people had been displaced, or over half of the country’s entire population.
From the above, it is possible to decompose the Sierra Leone civil war as follows:
Homicide Rate ≈ 1.66%
[(75,000 / 4,500,000) x 100 ≈ 1.66%]
Displacement Rate ≈ 55.55%
[(2,500,000 / 4,500,000) x 100 ≈ 55.55%]
Because of the innumerable number of self-sustained parameters involved in warfare, diving any deeper in the data would prove irrelevant to the essence of this article. But from the factual numbers above and because of the geographic and demographic similarities between Liberia, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast, but more importantly because the masterminds underneath these wars are exactly the same people involved today on the war-side of the Ivorian conflict apparatus (replace Mitterrand and Houphouet by Sarkozy and Ouattara), we can draw logical inferences regarding a possible and indeed, a highly probable death- and displaced-data range. Identical causes do tend to produce similar effects.
Further, the wide discrepancy between the Homicide Ratio in Sierra Leone and the more lengthier Liberian conflict should allow our inferred conclusion (an average of the two wars’ death/displaced ratios subsequently applied to the Ivorian population) to be closer to reality.
It is, however, important to keep in mind that in Ivory Coast, the financial stakes are far greater than in either Sierra Leone or Liberia (and perhaps higher than both combined. Moreover, although fundamentally less severe than in Liberia and Sierra Leone (Ouattara or Gbagbo can not, as of yet, be compare to a gung-ho savage like Samuel Doe, the man who disemboweled former president William Tolbert), the entrenched hatred between the to men and their hardliners will most likely be magnified by the ethno-religious cleavages carved between their respective followers. After all, The ethno-religious card has been activated in Ivorian politics at numerous occasions. It still is a valid and well-nurtured risk.
POSSIBLE DEATH TOLL IN IVORY COAST
[Note: On the upside, the task is essentially impossible to accomplish (even in terms of hypotheses) with a reasonable degree of numerical satisfaction as no expert on earth can tell when a war will end. Such is the nature of the beast: we know when it starts, but there’s no way to tell when or how it will finish.]
[(Liberia Homicide Ratio + Sierra Leone Homicide Ratio) / 2] x Ivory Coast Population
[(0.833 + 0.166) / 2] x 21,600,000 ≈ 1,080,000 deaths
POSSIBLE DISPLACEMENTS IN IVORY COAST
[(Liberia Displacement Ratio + Sierra Leone Displacement Ratio) / 2] x Ivory Coast Population
[(0.4066 + 0.5555) / 2] x 21,600,000 ≈ 10,390,000 displaced
When France (then headed by François Mitterand), Felix Houphouët-Boigny, Blaise Compaoré, and Muammar Khadafi were engineering Charles Taylor’s war against then Liberian president Samuel Doe (launched in December 1989 ), they couldn’t possibly imagine that their plot would degenerate into a multi-faction (eight in total, plus ECOMOG), multi-country, multi-decade war of unparalleled savagery, one that would bring the country itself down in ruins, burn Sierra Leone to the ground, and expand Guinea and then-haven-of-peace Ivory Coast in 2002.
Most likely, the conspirators expected the Doe regime, plagued by a corruption of Babylonnian proportion and an outrageous — even by African standards — disregard for human life , to collapse like a termite-infested structure, the same way similar regimes had historically fallen elsewhere on the continent.
If they used “legitimate force“, in other words, they calculated that they could solve Liberia’s problems by removing Doe by fire.
They couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead of fixing Liberia’s problems (in itself an arbitrary proposition as war doesn’t solve problems, but essentially amplifies them), they compounded them to the Nth power, succeding solely at outdoing Doe at his own death-game. If Samuel Doe was a rain of fire on Liberia’s head, the Charles Taylor wars unleashed a scorching typhoon, dragging millions of regular folks like you and I, their mothers, their wives, their children and their dogs, from the flesh-devouring horror of the frying pan to the scalding atrocity of the roaring inferno they had set ablaze.
Yet, even two years into the war, Taylor still declared: “War is not our answer. Peace is our answer“, a testimony of his analytical naïveté as far as the conflict’s termination was concerned. Even he, the top honcho of the top faction in Liberia, the very one who ignited the conflict, couldn’t foresee that 10 years from the day of that declaration, Liberians would still be cringing under torture, and he would still be at war.
As it turned, one of Taylor’s top generals, Prince Yormie Johnson — famous for overseeing the videotaped butchering of Doe — seceded to form a rival faction, Doe’s resistance proved lengthier and far more ruthless than anticipated, and the ECOWAS soldiers sent in as a peacekeeping force ended-up sucked in the conflict, fighting urban guerrilla warfare against Taylor’s rebels in the middle of Monrovia.
As if the outright collapse of Liberia wasn’t enough, Charles Taylor, executing his macabre vow to drag his diamond-rich eastern neighbor Sierra Leone to hell for its support of ECOMOG (the “peacekeeping” force launched it’s attack on Taylor from Sierra Leone), unleashed the epic brutality of Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie’s R.U.F. (who launched their attack on Sierra Leone from Taylor-controlled Liberian territories) to set the country ablaze. Since that fateful December 1989, in West Africa, War has become a political option, rolling from Liberia to Sierra Leone, then to Guinea and the Ivory Coast.
That war stands today at the Ivorian gates is a testimony to the limitations — if not the outright cecity — of “expert foresight”. Below is a description of the role France’s key pawn Houphouët-Boigny’s government played in the Liberian war (from the Coalition Resources, a pro-peace NGO):
“Origin of [Charles Taylor’s] NPFL’s launch into Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire has since been a major conduit for Taylor’s arms and supplies, and a staging post for his commercial operations. It has also been the site of persistent border clashes and refugee settlements. The late President Houphouet-Boigny’s son-in-law Aldophus Tolbert, son of Liberian President William Tolbert (1971-80), was killed with his father in the 1980 coup led by Samuel Doe. In the early stages of the war, Houphouet-Boigny’s government, like that of his other son-in-law, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, actively supported the NPFL invasion. It also obstructed discussion of the Liberian crisis in the UN Security Council.
There is evidence of significant links between the NPFL and French commercial interests, including those of Christophe Mitterrand, son of the late French President. France remains active in defence of its profile throughout Africa, and is thought to have been suspicious of Nigerian regional hegemony.“
As politically erudite as Houphouët was, he never in a million years would have imagined that his own nation would, a mere twenty years later, be summoned to pay in blood the cost of his Liberian policy. Today, the Ivory Coast. Who knows which country will be next?
Why did a “managed” assault to overthrow a “weak” regime spiraled so severely out of control? Why did France and its co-conspirators prove so incapable of maintaining control over the direct consequences of their own pyromania? Why is Charles Taylor locked in a European jail, abandoned by France, Khadafi, and Compaoré? Quite simple: because the very nature of war makes it fiercely independent from human control, planned or otherwise. War isn’t a pet. It is a predator as savage, ruthless, and unpredictable as none other.
A war in Ivory Coast is highly likely to cause 1,000,000 deaths or more. Over 10,000,000 men, women, and children could be displaced. These metrics are gruesomely realistic, even more so because the estimate is highly conservative. To the reader who finds the number outlandish, I respectfully remind that in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, a catastrophe in which France — yet again, played a venomous role, 800,000 people were massacred in one month. Humanitarian cataclysms do happen. Their prevention, however, falls under our control.
One would think that the U.N., so quick to hug the thesis of a war in Ivory Coast, would remember its dismal failure to defuse the brooding the Rwanda genocide while it was still possible to do so. When an organization is so moribund in the face of an escalating conflict, wisdom recommends that it does its very best to prevent them from happening.
The question I ask is this:”Why in God’s green earth would ANYONE advocate war when the odds of an outright hecatomb whirling out of control are so high?“
In Criminal Law, attempting to kill one human being, or even a dog, sends the perpetrator (as it should) to jail. But in International Criminal Law, “Attempted Crime Against Humanity” isn’t even a crime. There’s not even a charge against it. That is what is wrong with humanity today. Pompous bureaucrats sit in New York, bathing in lethargic incompetence at the U.N. headquarters, feasting on pan-seared monkfish and mascarpone-infused creamy polenta, all the while incapable of grasping the most basic rule of human (and animal) survival: Stay away from death. The U.N., conceived on the basis of this implicit principle — the Right to Live, has strayed away from it with the self-destructive stubbornness of an ancient sloth simply refusing to evolve.
The point, dear U.N., is to avoid war… Not letting it explode or engineering it as you are doing in the Ivory Coast (where your soldiers fired live ammunition at unarmed civilians). Your failure to free yourself from under the thumb of France triggered far more than 5,000,000 deaths in Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, to name a few.
Your failure to free yourself from under George W. Bush’s thumb ravaged Iraq, allowed Al-Qaeda to gain momentum worldwide, and incidentally caused the brutal passing of perhaps the only capable executive you had, the magnificent Sergio Vieira de Mello.
In the Ivory Coast, the U.N.’s “Peacekeeping” force, the Blue Helmets are barrack-buddies with — and outrageously fighting alongside — MPCI rebels (renamed “New Forces), those same fighters who, trained in Muammar Khadafi’s Libya and Blaise Compaoré’s Burkina Faso, committed atrocities of the most repulsive barbarism, including decapitation, amputations, mass killings, and countless summary executions.
The U.N. “Peacekeepers” today wine and dine side by side with those same rebels whose military advisor was — sent by Charles Taylor himself — R.U.F.’S top commander Sam Bockarie, an assassin known the world throughout for the butchery of a war they unleashed on Sierra Leone, and who fought in western Ivory Coast as one of the heads of MPCI satellite MPIGO — part of the same overall MPCI rebellion. whose R.U.F. laundered $20 million for Al-Qaeda through a cash-for-diamond deal brokered by Taylor and Compaoré (the sale of the diamonds boosted Al-Qaeda’s coffers by an estimated $75 million)”. In fact, as discussed in “The Genesis of Hate” and demonstrated by Washington Post reporter Douglas Farah, senior Al-Qaeda operatives hid from the United States immediately before AND after the 9/11 attacks by staying at Blaise Compaoré’s compound (a fancy word for Compaoré’s house. Those are facts.
Also discussed in “The Genesis of Hate”, a top MPCI commander stated on camera that Alassane Ouattara himself, while living in France, had financed the rebellion’s arms purchases and living expenses during the months (years, for some) they lived under Compaoré’s protection in Ouagadougou, the Burkina Faso capital from which they launched their murderous spree against the Ivory Coast.
The culture of War in West-Africa must be terminated. It has gone on for far too long. The only acceptable solutions to a people as pitilessly wounded as the men and women of these lands are face-to-face-across-the-table, intelligent and intelligible solutions.
Emulating the superb bravery of the Liberian Mothers, Sisters, and Daughters who offered our beautiful Liberia its much-deserved Peace by the sheer force of their will and prayers, I dare, on this very day, to pray the U.N. Back to hell. I pray the U.N. back to the land of the exponential hecatomb, to the dark valleys of drooling disdain for human dignity. What the United Nations is doing in Ivory Coast is wrong. It is wrong, and it must be stopped.
ECOMOG is a curse, a mismanaged and uncontrollable loose canon who flooded with kerosene the fire from which Liberia and Sierra Leone were burning. The savagery of Ecomog soldiers in Liberia and Sierra Leone, including their horrifying execution of a boy no older than 12 or 13 years old, is well documented.
What Africa needs to realize is that violence never solves violence. It amplifies it. I call for an end to the madness, for a definitive end to the age of conniving manipulation of the United Nations by France and its cohorts. Whatever your interest, greed, hegemony, lust for power, or else, we need not die for it. Remain who you are, for old habits die hard, but stop killing our people.
Peace, however long it takes to achieve, is the solution. To hell with war… we don’t want it anymore.