< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://www.frassle.net/catfishncod" />
Catfish and Cod
Thursday, July 17, 2003
This is the end result of pussyfooting on the dispatching of peacekeepers.
(Link path: Yahoo/AP)

When peacekeepers are needed, that doesn't mean "come when you feel like it". That doesn't mean "come when it's politically expedient". It doesn't mean "come when people have conformed to your demands." It means peacekeepers are needed, in a potentially explosive situation where the parties won't wait. The difference between life or death for the refugees of Srebrenica was a few hours. The UN dropped the ball in Bosnia, and people died as a result. Has the Administration done the same in Liberia?

It doesn't look good:

With United Nations officials growing increasingly frustrated over delays in sending West African soldiers to enforce a fragile cease-fire in this country, a familiar tableau of terror emerged late this afternoon: the sound of mortar fire on Monrovia's northern outskirts sent weary civilians marching swiftly toward the city, mattresses and clothes piled on their heads...

West African countries have pledged to send between 1,000 and 1,500 soldiers but have yet to work out their entry and exit plans. In an interview this afternoon, Gen. Cheick Diarra, deputy executive secretary for the Economic Community of West African States, or Ecowas, said an assessment team of 10 military officials was scheduled to arrive here on Friday to lay the groundwork for deployment, which would begin in 10 to 15 days...

Speaking to reporters at the United Nations today, the recently named special representative to Liberia, Jacques Klein, called on the West African bloc to mobilize "very, very quickly." Delay, he said, "means no American decision, means no American commitment, means I can't send my assessment team there, which means I can't deploy the U.N. peacekeeping mission that we desperately need."

This is a time when we need that leadership of the free world that Tony Blair talked about before Congress this afternoon. Blair has put his neck on the line to give us the power and international clout to effectively manage crises like Liberia and Sao Tome. The regional organizations, like ECOWAS, can help, and eventually they will be able to manage their own problems. In the meantime, though, they need to be prodded to move. The US can do that -- if they so choose. If we are going to accept the responsibility for international crises, and our actions at the Security Council this winter and spring indicate that we are, then we need to act responsibly.