Part of the problem .... Part of the problem is that there's no problem worth handling until after thousands, if not millions in some cases, are dead. The United States reduced its economic obligations to Liberia when Liberia was "no longer useful" ... e.g. following the fall of Communism. The situation in Liberia has degraded consistently since that time, though they did manage an election in 1997. But like DRC, like Uganda, and as it was with other failures of international cooperative action, people waited until military intervention was necessary. Bush doesn't want the military tied up there? Fine, leave it to the Africans. But spend some money helping the reconstruction. It seems easier to me to work seriously with unstable African states when it will just cost us a few billion dollars here and there, and not many billion dollars and the lives of American soldiers. Bush tried to use African instability as a security concern while beating the Iraqi drum. Yellowcake, anyone? Sorry about the frosting melting off .... Just as a side consideration: How is it that European Christians, despite the barbarity many attribute to them in history, despite a partly-accidental and almost-successful run at genocide in the Americas, come to civilize themselves to such a degree as we enjoy on both sides of the Pond? Well, all that war and barbarity would eventually afford individual people the opportunity to seek something better for themselves and their posterity. Unfortunately, that is the going model, the "success story" for the world. Are Europeans genetically "superior" to the rest of the world? Or can it be reasonably wondered whether any people, afforded the opportunity to seek something better would do so? After all, to hear the folks with the guns tell it, that's what they're doing: seeking something better. Is the way of the gun the best way? Or can the "success story", the going model, change the circumstances so that hundreds of morbid morality plays about the way of the gun need not exhibit themselves daily in hot spots around the world? When we think about conditions in Africa, I think a certain perspective states it both melodramatically and also very aptly: In Uganda, a Ten-Commandments based group is running child prostitutes; in DRC there are reports of soldiers eating Pygmies for magickal purposes. Can the world possibly figure out how to offer these folks something better to aspire to than superstition and carnage? The only reason we don't hear about the millions of Liberian dead is that, while they're expected to be dead, nobody actually knows the extent of the damage. Of course, if I presume for the sake of argument that the North Korea situation gets resolved without a nuclear blast erasing part of the history, I fully expect the world to be shocked. Absolutely, jaw-droppingly, "how-did-this-happen-because-we're-too-stupid-to-read-the-neon-lights-on-the-wall", soul-chillingly mortified. And yet because it very possibly involves a real war--complete with an enemy that can possibly hurt American forces deeply and sink an entire region into fire and chaos, the best course of action is to take our time while things get worse. We'll take action when the only action left is blowing something up. It was only the Clinton administration or so when I was watching the news one day and said, "Are we going to rumble with the Koreans?" And all the conservatives around me said, "No. It's not going to happen. We don't need to worry about North Korea." And now we do. Chairman Warner has been around enough to see the writing on the wall. He doesn't need the neon lights to make it any more clear to him, but it doesn't mean he knows what to do about it. Nor should that imply the man is completely idiotic. I mean, he can manage his politics enough to be Chairman of the SASC. But we've let the way of the gun rule for so long as the operating model for success that it's going to take some tough work to change that. And Congrats, there is a difference between "peacekeeping" and "invasion". The Nigerians didn't have to kill thousands of Liberians on their way to Monrovia, which should demonstrate at least part of that difference. And you know, when all sides of the Liberian conflict openly declare that they would respect an American peacekeeping force, well? Ah, yes ... we're back to the regime change question again. Because Lurd, the main rebel faction wouldn't accept any peacekeepers until Taylor was gone. Well? WMD hasn't proven through in Iraq's regime change. Al Qaeda connections never were true. Bush is left with regime change and opportunity to stabilize a potential breeding ground for terrorism. And this has been part of my point through now two topics on Liberia: The human cause is all we have left in Iraq. (After all, it's not about the oil, right?) Why not the human cause in Liberia? The simple fact is that Bush is blowing the Liberian situation on so many levels that it's ridiculous. At the superficial end he's giving up the opportunity for an easier mission that would put some sparkle and polish on his barbaric war policies; furthermore, he would demonstrate that the US really is about human benefit instead of just its own pocketbook, and show that our appeals to human benefit are more than just another snow job. Politically, Bush could ease worldwide criticism and reinforce fraying relations with some of our international partners; Bush could show that the US really is more efficient than the UN; Bush could show that the US does not lack the resolve to back up its words; Bush could show that US policy is more than just another deadly imperial power grab. Substantially, Bush could have provided relief to many who did not make it; Bush could have put that Christian conscience of his to good use and started the healing; Bush could have demonstrated that human beings really are as important as we like to pretend. Whether for his personal benefit, the benefit of Americans, the benefit of Liberians, or the benefit of the world, Bush has chosen to do nothing more than put in an appearance for the sake of appearances. In the meantime, Uncle Sam still commands a big checkbook. Compared to Afghanistan and Iraq? We can afford a small investment in the future of American and world security. In the meantime, the only reason for a state of constant military engagement would be the silly presumption that blowing stuff up is the only available route to action. Oh, and as to Asia? Hey, we already have security interests working there. American soldiers were helping the fight against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines, and in 1996, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, a key Al Qaeda figure, was indicted in New York for an alleged plot to blow up US-bound airliners in the Philippines. As for Central Asia ... well, I suppose we could trust the Russians and Chinese to deal with that, but .... The point is to retrofit the building before the earthquake hits. The point is to get the fire sprinklers into the building before it burns down. The safety concerns themselves are not enough to warrant a demolition crew to bring the building down.