'Minimal' U.S. Role in Liberia Seen
Byline: Gus Constantine, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Despite a U.S. desire to stop President Charles Taylor that goes back to 1990, any U.S. military intervention in Liberia is unlikely to be huge, analysts say.
They cite the common perception among Bush administration officials that the West African nation lacks any strategic significance for the United States and fears of a repeat of the 1993 Somalia debacle as reasons for the hesitant approach. From a national-security standpoint, it is not worth the effort, the analysts say, noting that U.S. policy imposes strict conditions for participating in peacekeeping missions.
"It appears unlikely that meaningful intervention is in the cards," said a spokesman for Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat.
The shaky truce in Liberia, meanwhile, threatens to spin out of control while the creation of a West African force and a decision by the Bush administration on the role it would play are bogged down in deliberations.
The main rebel force on Wednesday lunged toward Klay Road Junction, north of Monrovia, which, if seized, could open the way for takeover of the Liberian capital.
Those in favor of American intervention cite the historical basis of U.S. obligations to Liberia, a country formed more than 150 years ago by freed American slaves.
Henry Cohen, former chief of the State Department's Africa Bureau, was a little more optimistic that a minimal peacekeeping force would join a 3,000-member mission being readied by Liberia's neighbors.
"I think they'll do something, but it's likely to be minimal," Mr. Cohen said.
President Bush told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan this week that the U.S. role "would be limited in size and limited in tenure." U.S. officials also say that a draft resolution is in the works that would define the scope of international intervention. …