If the war with Iraq was largely the work of the Likudnik faction that has commandeered the Bush administration’s Middle East policies, the liberation of Liberia on which the President suddenly embarked the nation last summer seems to have originated at least in part with yet another lobby of questionable loyalties. On July 7, as Mr. Bush was trying to explain (so to speak) why American troops had to be sent yet again into an overseas combat theater, the Washington Post suggested what were perhaps more compelling reasons than the President and his speechwriters could invent, let alone express.
Not only the ill-conceived Liberian adventure but also the President’s summer vacation in Africa, his denunciations in Senegal of his own country for its role in the slave trade, his support for $15 billion in public funds to combat AIDS in Africa, and his transparent mollycoddling of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, the most brutal (perhaps) and offensive despot on the African continent today were evidence of an unexpected interest in Africa from an administration that had hitherto seemed preoccupied with the Middle East. As the Post explained, the President’s
willingness to focus attention on Africa reflects the growing influence of an eclectic lobbying coalition that includes aid groups, religious organizations, entrepreneurs and the Congressional Black Caucus,