Understanding the capture of Charles Taylor

Understanding the capture of Charles Taylor

Understanding the capture of Charles Taylor

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 29 2006 6:52 PM

Taylor-Made PR for Nigeria

Bloggers welcome the arrest of former Liberian president Charles Taylor. They also read a historical curtain call for Likud in the recent Israeli election, and experience a muted vicarious thrill in the neocon family feud between Charles Krauthammer and Francis Fukuyama.

Taylor-made PR for Nigeria: Deposed Liberian president Charles Taylor has been captured by Nigerian police after an escape attempt from the country that had been host to his exile since 2003. Wanted for, among other things, war crimes in connection to incitement of civil war in Sierra Leone, Taylor's handover to Monrovia is being interpreted as a score for international justice, and also a timely diplomatic calculation, as Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is in Washington to meet with President Bush.

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At Silent Storms in an Ocean of One, grad student Olawunmi, blogging from Manchester, England, reminds readers of Taylor's grim stock in trade: "[I]f the accusations are true, taylor funded the [Sierra Leone] rebel guerrillas in west africa's various regional crises, responsible for hacking limbs off innocent people and other graver acts of genocide, funnelling arms, cash and other forms of support to them over a period of years. in return they paid him in diamonds, mined by terrorised women and children who summarily had their hands and legs hacked off, sometimes for the amusement of their captors and tormentors."

New York writer and anthologist Kathryn Cramer examines the logistics of Taylor's long-awaited apprehension and wonders about one out-of-office foreign minister who seems to have his work cut out for him: "Taylor's 'spiritual adviser' - now there's a busy man - had been saying that he was seeking political asylum in Syria, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea or Gabon…The spiritual adviser, by the way, is an American evangelical Protestant of Indian extraction, one  Dr. Kilari Anand Paul - the very notion of caring for Charles Taylor's immortal soul, though, reminds me of the John Donne poem about 'who shall give me grace to begin' seeking God's grace."

Douglas Farah at The Counterterrorism Blog is grateful to Nigeria, up to a point: "The arrest does not mitigate the gross negligence on the part of the Obasanjo government in letting Taylor operate with impunity from his estate in Calabar while in exile and then allowing him to escape."

Dubliner Fiona de Londras at Mental Meanderings—an Irish take on global affairs hopes a kind of event horizon been reached in the handover of wanted war criminals: "There's a lesson there for Serbia, which has finally admitted that Serbian forces have been protecting Mladic from arrest and transfer to The Hague."

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Read more about the nabbing of Taylor.

Likud-nix: The unspectacular winner in the Israeli elections was Ariel Sharon's newfangled centrist party, Kadima, which secured 28 seats in the Knesset—just eight more than the time-tested Labor party. This gives the premiership to acting PM Ehmud Olmert, who is already in talks to build a coalition with Labor and a number of minority tickets that had unexpectedly strong showings. However, most bloggers agree, 2006 was a crepuscular year for the graying Likudniks, of whom Sharon was an animating and founding force 33 years ago.

At the New Donkey, battle-hardened Democratic operative Ed Kilgore writes: "The 'Greater Israel' ideology that once enlivened Likud and other right-wing parties is dead, … it's really an academic question as to whether Sharon was a lot or just slightly ahead of the curve in recognizing that and adjusting his policies accordingly." Liberal Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo offers this analysis: "It's not that the right has collapsed. Some of this is just a matter of reshuffling."But he's altogether glad of Benjamin Netanyahu's political insolvency: "[F]or a party that's dominated Israeli politics since the mid-1970s, it's a devastating result."

Conservative Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters is not so sanguine about the implosion of the traditional Israeli hardline: "The Palestinians may think that the Likud collapse has provided them with a victory. In reality, it has made them irrelevant. Without a realistic partner in peace, Israel will set her own borders and close off the West Bank, economically and politically isolating the Palestinians."

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Now Olmertwhat's not to like? "Nobody really knows," replies "themiddle," who has a tough time sussing out the new guy's mystique, at the "100% kosher" Jewlicious: "He is an intelligent man who didn't run Jerusalem all too well when he was mayor and who didn't fear sucking up to the city's Haredi community, even as he knew they were using him, if it meant he could hold on to power."

Read more about the Kadima victory.

Hegelian head-butt. Having found himself the primary target of Francis Fukuyama's late-breaking repudiation of neoconservatism, Charles Krauthammer has penned a highly bloggable backatcha in the Washington Post (Disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.), accusing his ex-comrade of intellectualand paraphrasticdishonesty.

"Last man" lies, film at 11, yawns libertarian Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, who thinks stumblebum consistency is the philosopher's true métier: "Not that his history of being wrong about, well, pretty much everything has hurt Fukuyama's career so far."

AK at Penguins on the Equator can't help but notice that the cunning of historians is just a mouse click away from exposure these days: "On a couple occasions out of curiosity, I've run Google searches to try to find evidence of Fukuyama's opposition to the war, and I haven't turned up anything prior to 2003. It's well-known that Fukuyama signed a letter just a few years before the invasion of Iraq that was written by a bunch of neocons arguing for regime change. But now I'm more curious than ever about whether Fukuyama has engaged in a bit of historic revisionism on his position."

Read more about the Krauthammer-Fukuyama contretemps over the neocon legacy. And in Slate, both Christopher Hitchens and Jacob Weisberg  determined Fukuyama's.