GOP Senators Leery of Liberia Intervention

As President Bush weighs sending U.S. forces as peacekeepers to Liberia, Republican senators are expressing doubts about the proposed mission, and Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner (R.-Va.) has called for a Senate vote if the President decides on a deployment.

“You’ve got three factions in there . . . all of them at each others’ throats,” Warner (R.-Va.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” July 6. “We’ve got to think through very, very carefully the insertion of U.S. forces in there. It’s a presidential decision. But I would say to the Senate leadership, and most respectfully to the President, I would want a vote in the Congress before we begin to commit substantial forces into that region.”

“I think it’s premature, and I would think a strong case would have to be made that this is necessary to protect America’s vital interests,” Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.) told the Washington Times. Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R.-Ky.) told reporters, “It does strike me as a situation very similar to Somalia. We all have bad memories of Somalia.” Sen. Pat Roberts (R.-Kan.), chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said on CNBC, “I worry about this . . . .This is an area where they rated this country 174 out of 175 in terms of humanitarian degradation, no power, no water, no food, civil war for 13 years. This is not a pleasant undertaking.”

Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) said he is undecided on intervening. “I am still studying that,” he told HUMAN EVENTS. “I haven’t made a decision.”

Sen. Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) said he agreed with Warner that the President should come to Congress for a vote. “I would like to see what the President recommends before I make that judgment,” said Specter. “I am very concerned about our commitments around the world. We have 175,000 troops in Iraq, troops in Korea. . . . How many more deployments can the military handle? You can stretch a rubber band to the point of its breaking. I have already heard whispers in the cloakroom about a draft. I don’t want to alarm anybody. I don’t think there is going to be a draft.” Asked if a substantial number of senators would vote for a draft today, he said, “No.”