Ex-Liberian President Was Hungry For Power
Studies have shown that we here in the United States tend to be uninformed about what is actually going on in the rest of the world. Our TVs, newspapers, the Internet, all the major sources from which we get our information are filled with such riveting stories as how the governor of New York State is dallying with some lady of the evening but generally miss other, larger stories that put our own problems in perspective.
Reuter's today reports on the trial of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor. According to the report,
Taylor, once one of Africa's most feared warlords, faces
charges of rape, murder, mutilation and recruitment of child soldiers during a 1991-2002 conflict. He has pleaded not guilty.
"He (Taylor) said we should eat them. Even the U.N. white
people -- he said we could use them as pork to eat," Joseph "ZigZag" Marzah, who described himself as Taylor's former death squad commander, told the U.N.-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.
Taylor's troubles arose from his desire to enrich himself by destabilizing neighboring Sierra Leone in order to steal its diamonds. In furtherance of this goal he armed rebel forces in that nation, the resulting violence eventually leaving upwards of 250,000 people dead. The cannibalism angle seems unbelievable until you realize the level of violence in that conflict. As Reuters states,
Thousands of civilians had their limbs hacked off by drug-crazed
rebels, many of them children.
In 2003, after being overthrown Taylor took up residence in Nigeria (which apparently must not exactly set very high standards on who they allow to immigrate). He was only handed over to the International Court in the Hague after international pressure was applied.
Taylor's and Liberia/Sierra Leone's story here should be instructive to us in the US about the differences between the kind of troubles we have and the kind of trouble that exists in much of the rest of the world. Eliot Spitzer is without a doubt a truly loathsome individual who violated both his state's and his family's trust and his story is worth recounting. But American's should have some degree of perspective. It is no accident that the worst kind of "leaders" the US has are the Eliot Spitzer variety. We haven't had a Charles Taylor and as long as we continue to respect our Constitution and our traditions we won't. We are lucky to be Americans.
Too bad for Eliot Spitzer it takes a Charles Taylor to make him look good.
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