Liberian President Charles Taylor has joined his countrymen in calling for the United States to send in peacekeeping troops, and President Bush may soon comply. Mr. Taylor, however, is the problem, and true peace is not possible in Liberia until he steps down.
In fact, Mr. Taylor said in mid-June that he would relinquish power, only to change his mind, despite a call for his departure by President Bush.
Now that violence has erupted again, ending a nervous truce between rebels and government loyalists, the deployment of U.S. troops is evidently considered essential in Washington. Even a modest deployment is certain to arouse even more unhappiness among Americans who wonder if our military isn't already policing enough foreign lands.
Freed American slaves founded the West African nation, which has a constitution modeled on that of the United States. The Indiana-sized country's 3 million mostly poor and illiterate people have endured strife and civil war since 1980.
Mr. Taylor was elected in 1997, a rare event in Liberia, and Liberian rebels have tried to oust him for three years now. They are so determined to topple the man that their recent assaults on Monrovia, the capital city, resulted in the deaths of more than 700 people.
During a tour of his war-torn capital, he thanked his tattered fighters for their “gallantry.” Their valor notwithstanding, they were too weak to hold back the rebels - another sign that Mr. Taylor should give up soon.
France and Britain have joined other West African nations - who are also willing to lead the way toward solving the crisis in Liberia - to urge U.S. forces to go to Liberia to stop the war and work toward peace.
Mr. Taylor is blamed for other West African conflicts during the last 14 years. In early June he was indicted on war crimes in a U.N.-backed court in Sierra Leone for supporting rebels who committed atrocities during the civil war there.
Mr. Taylor realizes just how bad things have gotten; he, too, wants multinational forces to move in. But he's wrong if he thinks that international forces will save his presidency.
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