Liberia To the Last Man

As the bloody three-way civil war rages on, the U.S. wonders how its years of aid could have ended so disastrously

In President Bush's other military rescue operation -- sending in U.S. Marines last week to evacuate American civilians from war-ravaged Liberia -- the best news was that the Marines encountered no opposition as they ferried out more than 160 people. Rebel leader Prince Yormie Johnson, whose threat to take Westerners captive provoked the Marine intervention, did seize 16 hostages from seven countries, but soon released them all.

More promising was the unprecedented decision by Nigeria and four other West African nations to send a peacekeeping force of 2,700 troops into Liberia. The plan: to impose a cease-fire and establish a provisional...