The only successful effort, partial at least, to keep peace in Sierra Leone came when a Nigerian-led force, known as ECOMOG, intervened two years ago to stop the rebels from overrunning the country. But the RUF controlled diamond fields that could finance a long-term insurgency, and when ECOMOG withdrew recently, complaining that the mission was too costly, the RUF became emboldened. The peace deal was supposed to mean giving up their control over the diamond fields, but that wasn't something an exceedingly brutal army which had adopted systematic dismembering of the civilian population as a tactic of war was willing to do.
The failure of peacekeeping, though, leaves the international community facing an ugly choice: Simply pulling out leaves Sierra Leone at the mercy of thugs far worse than Milosevic's, but eliminating the danger requires a military commitment far larger than anyone is prepared to make. Even if the cash-strapped Nigerians can be persuaded to send their ECOMOG contingents back, those were previously able to restrict the rebels' advance on the capital, but not to eliminate them as a fighting force. So even in the best-case scenario, now, Sierra Leone will go back to square one.