GREAT GAME, DIRTY GAME
The United States and Liberia
Had we been candid about the standards of government in Liberia it would have been very damaging to U.S. interests.... Great powers don't reject their partners just because they smell. 1
Chester Crocker, former U.S. Assistant Secretary
of State for African Affairs
IT WAS AN EARLY EVENING IN FEBRUARY 1993. 2 A Cadillac taxi had swept me into the quaint streets of Georgetown from the bland order of Washington. I was dazed by the normality. Students wandered through the neatly kept grounds of Georgetown University. One had directed me to the university's tall, new, red-brick, multistory block, where classes for highfliers, future diplomats, and potential leaders and policymakers were held in bright rooms with newly varnished desks facing blackboards where the intricacies of American foreign policy were outlined and discussed.
"I don't believe in trust in diplomacy. I look at performance. I never trusted Savimbi," said Chester Crocker, the architect of U.S. Cold War strategy in the sub-Saharan Africa of the 1980s. 3 He had retired from diplomacy when Ronald Reagan left office, his experiments with Africa reduced to diagrams on a faculty blackboard. "But with Liberians one had a quality of dialogue because they really thought of themselves as honorary Americans. This meant that it was very candid—on both sides. During the Cold War, diplomacy with Third World states was something like running a singles bar: They come to New York and go shopping." 4 He never once paused, except