Africa Spotlight: Gola Forest

“It’s been a place of high potential for a really long time,” said former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, explaining why it’s vital for the United States to continue nurturing democratic ideals in Africa. “It’s more than time that that potential be realized.”

One success story mentioned by Rice is Liberia, where in 2008 President George W. Bush became the first American head of state to visit in 30 years. Only five years before his visit, U.S. Marines had been deployed by Bush to help end more than a decade of civil war in Liberia.

After a youthful population with a median age of 18.4 years, half the 36.8 years in America, Liberia’s greatest economic potential may be the 290-square-miles of its Gola Forest. Benefits – from removing carbon in the atmosphere to housing a biodiversity of species – have been highlighted by the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) agenda at the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

But hope is fading now that Barack Obama has abandoned plans to confront climate change, cooperation on which REDD depended. Losing vital American support, the Gola Forest will be exposed to the same deforestation threats, due to short-run profit incentives, blamed for much of the climate change worldwide.

“In the long run, your interests and your values are going to have to come together,” said Rice, who described the style of leadership still desperately needed to guide U.S. foreign policy.

Not only is such common sense likely to effect safety and happiness with worries in the United States related to climate change. It’s also consistent with George Washington’s wish to realize America’s fullest potential, by recommending the U.S. Constitution to the applause, the affection, and adoption of nations in Africa.

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