When rebel forces advanced on Monrovia in June, with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees recoiling from a ‘horrific’ situation, the Bush Administration was loath to send in a peacemaking force. Susan Rice, the former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under Clinton, said she failed to ‘understand what they’re waiting for’. But it was plain enough – Bush wanted Charles Taylor to pack his bags and the whole Liberian mess to go away. The fighting was already intense when Bush embarked on an African tour, committing the United States to what could become a long drawn-out campaign against terrorism on the continent, but he remained eager to avoid any commitments in Liberia. Unless, of course, Liberia turns out to serve a new strategic purpose in Africa.
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