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Another debacle in the works

The failed policies of the Bush Administration are in strong evidence these days in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. But the one failure that is digging at me is the reluctance about Liberia. Fewer troops on the ground in Monrovia than is really needed.

The U.N., ECOWAS and Africanists all over the continent are asking for more support for the task at hand, securing the city and its seaport community. What does President Bush do but say they we’ll all pull out on Oct. 1. Just more failure to have a correct read on the situation. Another debacle in the works.

Several days ago, Navy Seals landed on a beach and Monrovia kids did cartwheels all over at the sight of Americans. Their commanders pulled them back to the ships off shore.



The sight of Marines, what few there are, provokes salutes, big smiles and offers of food from people who can ill afford to be sharing in this time of scarcity. Somebody needs to tell President Bush and Condoleezza Rice that this is not Somalia.

The other day the L.A. Times reported that the Pentagon killed a report from their own people on the ground in Monrovia for 2,500 troops to support the need for peace in Monrovia. When the report was pulled back, President Bush was flying all over Africa talking about his new interest in Africa.




The best thing that could happen is for Mr. Bush to release those pent-up folks sitting offshore into the needs of Monrovia. He says that the end of our involvement is Oct. 1. More failure on the horizon if this happens.

Liberia has a new leader that will take over in a few weeks. His first statement is of conciliation and forgiveness, much in the spirit of the current South African approach to its tragic history.

This policy is of great significance to the rebuilding of the country. Will someone please inform President Bush of the great opportunity that exists for our foreign policy here, one that could reverberate all over Africa.

When I look at all these events and happenings, I fear for our country. We have the resources and the proximity to act in Liberia; we have history behind us in our long relationship with this West African country.

I can still remember the stories from Robertsport, a lovely seaside village, about the seaplanes landing during World War II on the big lake behind the town and that place in history. Walking on the beach one day and finding a dune covering an old airstrip reminds me of Liberia’s great involvement in that war. Buying a V ring in Monrovia in 1963 and realizing it was designed after Churchill’s V salute.

But our country holds back and we sit on our duffs, watching and hoping more countries will join the efforts there. Doesn’t anyone in the White House realize that if we showed more interest in a country in Africa, that there might be rewarding benefits in Iraq? That more countries might help us there because of good public relations in Liberia.

As I have said, I fear for our country when our response is so bad. Quick to topple a dictator in Iraq, slow to help a country with nearly two centuries of history and relationship.

Personally I hope that Ralph Nader does not run in 2004 and that the Democrats put up a great candidate against this failed administration. And we really need to send the Bush family back to Texas. I rest.

Andy Hanson

Aspen


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