U.S. Might Send Troops to Liberia

July 2, 2003

U.S. Might Send Troops to Liberia

The Bush administration is considering sending troops to Liberia to lead an international peacekeeping force, reports the Wall Street Journal. The small nation has been rocked by rebel insurgents fighting President Charles Taylor, who has been indicted for war crimes by a United Nations court investigating the recently ended war in Sierra Leone. Taylor has long been accused of trafficking in diamonds to fund his causes. Liberia's diamond exports are banned by a U.N. order.

Previously, the U.S. Defense Department opposed a U.S. role in Liberia, citing its current involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. But other administration officials argued that helping Liberia would demonstrate the U.S. understands its international obligations extend beyond oil-rich Middle Eastern countries and fighting terrorism. President Bush plans to visit Africa next week and wants a decision to address the unrest in Liberia.

Under a proposed State Department plan, the U.S. would send a small contingent of troops to Liberia, but limit U.S. involvement to three months. After a U.S. pullout, African peacekeepers would assume responsibility for maintaining any ceasefire. Another option would be for the U.S. to provide logistical support, including aircraft and equipment, to an African peacekeeping force.

The war in Liberia has displaced more than one million Liberians and fighting last month in the capital, Monrovia, killed hundreds of civilians.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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