Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Where's The Compassion Now?

Mid way through the 19th century this nation established a homeland for the return of the slaves we had imported from Africa. We named this country Liberia, based uopn the Latin root meaning freedom. For various reasons, the effort was less than an unqualified success. This country survives to this day. Its people, however, may not be able to say that for much longer.

As I write this, French troops are in Liberia evacuating all of the white people who wish to leave. For the black people, however, evacuation is limited to those who can prove that they are citizens of another country. President Bush has responded to the situation, by sending 35 (!) troops to protect our embassy, and the property of our citizens there. Meanwhile, the rest of the people there, the descendents of American slaves, are being left to the tender mercies of the rebels, who are offering them a place at the table, as the main course. Those who escape becoming food for the rebels, however, are mostly facing starvation themselves.

I wonder how many Americans would support sending more than the three dozen troops that our fearless leader has spared to stop the carnage. I suspect that this would be a rather uncontroversial decision. I wonder what the political calculus is that would abandon a few million former Americans to cannibalism and starvation, while five to ten American soldiers die each week attempting to install a better government in another country whose linkage to America is much more tenuous. I guess that it's some combination of "we can't solve all the world's problems" and "the Liberian rebels are no threat to us," but it sucks just the same. Both Reagan, the hard rock conservative, and bleeding heart liberal Clinton, sent more aid to Liberia than the compassionate conservative Bush.

I hope he enjoys his retirement.