- The Washington Times - Monday, June 19, 2000

The senator used his position as chairman of the Senate appropriations committee that determines the State Department's budget to withhold the $368 million in the department's funds going toward four peacekeeping ventures, and rightfully so. Some of it would have gone to support an ill-planned effort in Sierra Leone, where the United States' own Rev. Jesse Jackson helped push through the Lome agreement last year. That pact put power in the hands of rebels who had been killing and maiming thousands of men, women and children and launched their leader from death row to the vice presidency.
Some would have also gone to help a mission in East Timor, where the United Nations organized a referendum for independence but then failed to protect it from the backlash taken by the militia in reaction to the vote. Other funds were destined for Kosovo, where rebels the United Nations peacekeeping mission adopted and funded have turned to killing, illegal policing and torture. Another intended recipient was the Congo, a nation where the rebels who signed a peace accord last summer have no intention of putting down their guns.
Sen. Gregg has now released $50 million for Sierra Leone, but only after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke wrote him a letter saying the administration would address his grave concerns with the West African country.
"I didn't see why tax dollars should be spent on a policy which I found to be supporting people who were raping murdering and torturing their countrymen and also a U.N. mission was totally ineffective," Sen. Gregg said in an interview. But he saw Mr. Holbrooke's new plan as promising, if the administration can follow through on it. According to the plan, rebel leader Foday Sankoh would have no political future and be recognized as a war criminal; the United Nations would make a goal of cutting off the rebels' power source, the diamond mines; and the United States would have to figure out how to deal with Mr. Sankoh's comrade in arms and diamond trade, Liberian President Charles Taylor.
Until now, the administration's policy on peacekeeping has been to throw money and troops at the conflict and try to clean the resulting chaos up later. If the administration gives half the thought to its future missions as Sen. Gregg did to Sierra Leone, the United States could avoid repeating peacekeeping follies.

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