The Corner

Africa’s Plight

From a reader re my Charles Taylor post:

Re: Your comment:

“Just a little slice of the hell that is much of Africa.”

I am dismayed that so often conservatives with whom I agree so often

treat affairs in Africa in this way. You might note that this letter

was written in 1992, and since that time, the writer of the letter,

Foday Sankoh, died in custody while awaiting trial for war crimes, and

the country he was terrorizing has been at peace for several years,

following free and fair elections, and the recipient of the letter,

Charles Taylor, was forced from office, and, following the free election

of a legitimate government, is now in custody and awaiting a war crimes

trial himself.

In point of fact, while conditions are indeed horrible even still in

Liberia and Sierra Leone, they represent hope, rather than hell, in that

they both have democratically elected governments and are climbing

slowly from the abyss in which they spent the previous decade. These

hopeful steps are due in no small part to the quietly effective

diplomacy of both the Bush and Blair governments.

I’m not sure why there is such a reluctance to recognize signs of

progress and hope in Africa. Certainly, it is frustrating that these

signs so often come to naught. But I believe that it is important, if

one wants to see the whole picture, to be less dismissive of the

accomplishments, or at least to notice that your example of the hell

that “is” much of Africa comes from 14 years ago, and, at least in these

two nations, the present is far different from the situation in the

letter, and that the “evil parties ” in question have received or are

receiving their just reward.

(By the way, the removal of Charles Taylor, and his current arrest, and

the elections in Liberia, are further successes in the war on terror.

To see the Taylor-Al Qaeda link, see this article from the Washington

Post: )

Jonah Goldberg, a senior editor of National Review and the author of Suicide of the West, holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute.

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