Weighing our options in Liberia

Writing in the Washington Times Jack Kelly, former Green Beret and Reagan administration defense official, weighs the pros and cons of intervening in Liberia. Noting that Liberia has experienced 20 years of civil strife, and that the forces of president Charles Taylor and the rebels are about equally evil, Kelly urges President Bush to proceed cautiously. However, he concludes on balance that intervention may be the better course. According to Kelly, “a fairly modest U.S. military intervention could do much good at little risk” and “a peaceful, democratic, pro-American Liberia is in our national interest.”
I don’t know enough about the situation to agree or disagree. My knee-jerk reaction is that if intervention is not particularly risky, then the U.N. should be able to handle the situation without our help. If, on the other hand, intervention poses serious dangers and difficulties, then we should stay out, given our other commitments and the modest nature of our interests there. In short, the idea of agreeing to Kofi Annan’s request that we lead an international peacekeeping force in Liberia right now leaves me pretty cold.
Kelly’s piece also notes that Howard Dean, arch-opponent of our efforts in Iraq, has called for the deployment of U.S. troops in Liberia. Kelly adds that “Mr. Dean might not be so enthusiastic about sending trops to Liberia if he had read Ryan Lissa’s article in the July 2000 issue of New Republic which documents Mr. Taylor’s connections to al Qaeda.”

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