August 11, 2003

Taylor is Out

Sometimes the threat of force works wonders all by itself, so long as the threat is credible.

Charles Taylor has feld Liberia into exile in Nigeria. He wasn't driven out by years of civil war but by a cocked American gun.

Taylor arrived in Nigeria hours after surrendering power to his vice president in the capital, Monrovia. Relatives, friends and some government soldiers at the airport cried and wailed as Taylor and his relatives left.

Rebel leader Sekou Conneh, speaking in nearby Ghana, welcomed Taylor's departure from Liberia and declared: "The war is over."

As Taylor left, U.S. warships appeared on the horizon off the coast a thrilling sight for Monrovians desperate for an end to 14 years of war. Yet no forces disembarked and the ships soon withdrew from view.

He will not be missed.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at August 11, 2003 02:11 PM

While removing Chuck from the presidential seat is a step in the right direction, Chuck's teenage army that only gets paid when they fight is still around. Oh, his #2 is technically in charge of the capital.

Posted by: BigFire at August 11, 2003 02:48 PM

per Fark:

Taylor steps down, Blah is sworn in, crowd chants "Blah, Blah, Blah".

Farking hilarious.

Posted by: sblafren at August 11, 2003 02:57 PM

The rebel leader says the war is over, so Chuck's number 2 must be okay with them. I've no idea why, but okay...

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at August 11, 2003 02:58 PM

Michael, maybe the rebels have a case of the Blahs ;-)

(That name is a gift that keeps on giving!)

Sadly, though, I expect the fringe left to pick up on Taylor's "farewell address" and recycle it as gospel on IndyMedia and the other usual suspects.

Posted by: Matthew at August 11, 2003 05:32 PM

Michael, I meant to send you a suggestion for a NATO Human Rights Enforcement Group. I published it on

In the comments there, I note that the believable threat of overwhelming force is very conducive to "peaceful" power transfers.

I'd be interested in your thoughts. (It's also on my own site).

Posted by: Tom Grey at August 12, 2003 03:13 AM

The US, particularly ambassador Blaney and the rest of the State Department, certainly affecting the timing and conditions of Taylor's departure through the multilateral negotiations centered in Accra. But there was never any real threat that we would depose Taylor ourselves, so we can't claim primary responsibility for his departure. Credit for that goes, unfortunately, to the LURD and MODEL rebels who choked off Taylor's sources of funds (e.g., MODEL kicked out the Oriental Timber Company several months ago, which was a significant moment in the insurgency).

The big problem is that LURD and MODEL -- which are remnants of the old ULIMO-J and ULIMO-K factions from the civil war -- have no political viability and no real popular support. They're at least as bad as Taylor's administration (something the press over here doesn't seem to emphasize) as LURD's deliberate shelling of the civilian population in Monrovia amply illustrates.

Today, now that Taylor is gone, is when a cocked American gun would be most helpful. Whereas the LURD, who are busy stalling and sucking much of the country's remaining wealth out the free port, are extremely unpopular, America has almost unbelievable popular support. It is stunning to witness how strong the affinity Liberians feel for America really is. If we put our troops on the ground, the country will stabilize quickly, because no one over there is going to fuck with American Marines (whose military prowess is downright mythical). The US easily could create the conditions for establishing a civilian government, and help turn Liberia into a prosperous and dynamic political and economic partner. Liberians are aching for that to happen, and it would be a morally admirable use of American power, to say the least.

Plus, I think we owe it to them. I know that's the fuzzy-headed liberal in me talking, but Liberia really is our "little brother." They really did support us in their small way through last century's world wars. Come on, GW, all it would take is a few hundred troops....

Posted by: bushrod at August 12, 2003 11:15 AM


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