MONROVIA: Mr. Reginald B. Goodridge, Sr., a Liberian political leader, Foreign Policy and Media Expert, has characterized as disingenuous and surprising on the part of officials of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government, the “raining of attacks and insults” on American Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Michael A. McCarthy.
Goodridge indicated that the attacks were rained against Ambassador McCarthy over his “frank assessment of poor governance conditions across Liberia.”
In an opinion article, styled: “NEVER KILL THE MESSENGER AS US Ambassador McCarthy Bids Farewell,” Goodridge wrote: “In this respect, we strongly urge everyone to be careful how they attack the present outgoing or incoming American envoy, and to ‘never kill the messenger.’”
He explained that “diplomatically, an attack on the American Ambassador is not only an attack against the government and people of the United States of America, but against that country’s core national interests.”
Goodridge named the core national interests of the United States of America in Liberia “at this critical time of the special relationship that has existed between the two nations for almost two centuries” as follow: “Diplomatic interactions between the US and Liberia are dependent on several indicators such as good governance, economic relations, national security, the environment and the welfare of the people, much of which depend on donor funding, particularly American tax payers’ money;
“Liberia is a recipient of hundreds of millions of US dollars through USAID with dozens of outlets throughout the country, and other related agencies such as the Peace Corps, which makes the ‘special relationship’ quite lopsided.
“Of all people, CDC government officials, legislators and supporters should know that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The US is indeed a stakeholder with vested interests in Liberia tied to its core national interests.”
According to Mr. Goodgridge who is also an instructor of Diplomacy at Cuttington University Graduate School, and University of Liberia, “a weak and corrupt governance structure in Liberia” as Ambassador McCarthy has repeatedly pointed out, “has a tendency to induce poverty through hardship among civil servants and minor government functionaries.”
“It also has the tendency to destabilize the nation through unrest, which could spread across borders. Instability in Liberia and the sub-region is costly, unpredictable, and therefore poses a national security threat to the interest of the United States and its allies who spent hundreds of millions of dollars to secure the peace that we enjoy today,” he asserted.
He maintains that “the temptation for poverty-stricken functionaries to be lured through cash inducements from radical individuals who may cross Liberia’s porous borders to create chaos for our nation and our partners is very real.”
“This is why the Decentralization deficit has attracted the attention of the American Ambassador, because any form of destabilization in the interior of Liberia is a direct threat to the core values and national security interests of the Unites States,” Goodgridge further explained.
The Foreign Policy Expert added: “The long arm of international conflicts such as is being played out in the Russian-Ukrainian war has a direct impact on the livelihood, security and stability of West African nations. Just as poor nations in West Africa were affected by the Cold War that raged for decades between the USSR and the United states, and triggered a scourge of military coups and counter coups in the 1960s to the 1980s, so now African nations may be affected by the war in Ukraine, which is in essence a proxy war between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.”
“Therefore the probability for the Russian Federation to trigger instability in the backyard of fragile allies of the United States in West Africa cannot be underestimated. This is what is meant by a threat to the core values and national security interests of the United States,” he stressed.
“One would not want to be remiss in considering that the nagging Jihadist insurgency has spread through many African countries, including neighboring West African states such as Mali, Niger, and Nigeria – as well as small sleeper cells in Mauritania and Sudan.
“With the support of adversaries of the United States, what is to stop the Jihadists from incursion into Liberia, its key ally in West Africa? It is therefore of paramount interest for not only well meaning Liberians, but our key ally, the United States of America, that corruption in the public sector is minimized, that the government’s Decentralization Policy is well funded and well managed, that our porous borders are well patrolled and secured, that scarcity in the administrative and security structures are not subject to lethargy, penetration or temptation by cash inducements from nefarious foreign agents,” he indicated.
Giving detailed explanation, the former Presidential Press Secretary Goodgridge indicated that formal diplomacy suggests structured interactions between an ambassador or his proxy, with the government of the host country through either the president or members of any of the three branches of government.
“In the case of Liberia,” he pointed out, “It is not unreasonable to assume that Amb. McCarthy or his designee would not have had a series of such formal diplomatic interactions with the president of Liberia, cabinet ministers or leaders of the legislature and the judiciary – behind closed doors.”
“It is very possible that issues relating to bilateral relations, the Ambassador’s observations on governance of the country as it relates to his nation’s interests, instructions and concerns of the State Department conveyed to our government through him or through periodic assessment reports, would have been discussed,” he emphasized.
Goodridge: “I would not be surprised in the least that all or most of the issues published in the State Department’s regular assessments of governance in Liberia were not raised during the formal diplomatic exchanges.
“Public Diplomacy, or People’s Diplomacy, broadly speaking, is any of the various government-sponsored efforts aimed at communicating directly with foreign publics to establish a dialogue designed to inform and influence with the aim that this foreign public supports or tolerates a foreign government’s strategic objectives.
“This notion snugly falls in line with Amb. McCarthy’s interaction with non-governmental actors, private and public institutions, and the general public of the host country, Liberia.
“ The ambassador or his proxy, for example, giving a lecture at an academic institution, or engagement in community projects through the US Ambassador’s special fund, or touring the country and reporting on the dire state of the failed Decentralization Policy of the host government, all fall within the realm of Public Diplomacy. This is Diplomacy 101,” Mr. Goodridge, who is also a magazine and newspaper publisher stressed.
“That Ambassador McCarthy’s numerous observations on corruption and poor governance in Liberia, especially his recent assessment of the dysfunction of county offices, were expressed through the realm of Public Diplomacy, would suggest to me that these issues were certainly raised through Formal Diplomacy; and he felt that they probably fell on deaf ears. Then, he lost patience,” he indicated in the article.
“Surprisingly”, according to the media and diplomatic expert, “the Legislators who had previously been mute on the Ambassador’s numerous criticisms of the Executive Branch of government, became suddenly outraged after he revealed their lavish lifestyle courtesy of a US$65 million budgetary allotment, at the expense of the livelihoods of local officials and millions of citizens in the various counties that they represent.”
“There is a certain degree of hypocrisy exhibited by government functionaries and legislators accusing the ambassador of working for the opposition, and calling for him to keep his ‘nose’ out of the internal affairs of Liberia, while at the same time begging for the good graces of his government that he represents to buttress the government’s budgetary shortfall which is created perennially by, coincidentally, bad governance,” he asserted.
“Then, there are the same government officials and legislators who are jubilant over the imminent departure of Ambassador McCarthy, while praying for the arrival of his successor. How naive and utterly simplistic they appear to be in their feeble calculations.
“Unlike our current governmental structure which is driven by personality, cronyism, and nepotism, the governmental structure of the United States is driven by a system.
“In essence, regardless of the individual person who occupies an office, the system, the policy, the core values and national security interests of the United States of America remain supreme and immovable.
“How can one assumes that the successor to Amb. McCarthy would not have first read the numerous State Department assessment reports on Liberia, or the periodic reports filed by Ambassador McCarthy or the instructions from the Secretary of State for continuity in the protection and projection of the policies, the core values and national security interests of the United States of America in his new post? In Liberia, we say better the … that you know, than the … that is coming,” he added.
According to Instructor Goodridge, “Not long ago, another presidency of Liberia became obdurate in acceding and adhering to Formal and Public Diplomatic overtures from the United States, through its several Ambassadors, pertaining to governance in Liberia and related sub-regional issues.
“It was repeatedly pointed out that the policies, the core values and national security interests of the United States of America were threatened.
“Hardly anyone listened. Government officials, Legislators and friends of the president lambasted the Ambassador. Everyone remembers the ‘picky hair’ invectives that were intended to denigrate the appearance of the ambassador.
“The messenger who was doing his job on behalf of his government was being verbally ‘killed’.
“Washington had had enough. They had received numerous assessment reports on governance in Liberia and the perceived threat to the sub-region. These reports were documented and filed by several ambassadors, relayed to the State Department, and passed on to the White House. The word came from the White House. On July 4, 2002, America struck. And the Liberian presidency was gone,” he concluded.