Liberian Verdict Validates Bush Strategy
Your Take: An ex-ambassador under George W. Bush weighs in on the conviction of the country's ex-president.
The U.S. government also trained and financed ECOWAS troops from Nigeria, Mali and Senegal to deploy to Liberia, until they were quickly converted into a U.N. peacekeeping force with a mandate to protect civilians and secure the countryside. Ultimately, up to 15,000 multinational U.N. peacekeepers were critical for the success of Liberia's peace process and democratic elections that ushered into office Africa's first elected female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in January 2006.
Finally, and most important, President Bush and his national security adviser Condoleezza Rice made Liberia a priority. For eight years the Bush administration invested the necessary attention, energy and diplomatic and financial resources to implement a comprehensive strategy in Liberia and the region.
Justice and State Department lawyers advised the U.N. and the government of Sierra Leone on the design of the Special Court, an innovative hybrid international court established in 2002. U.S. diplomats led the charge at the U.N. to place comprehensive sanctions on Liberia, including an arms embargo, a ban on timber and diamonds and travel restrictions on senior Liberian officials.
Bush and Rice also shut down Taylor's resource spigot from Qaddafi in 2003 by linking Libya's compliance with U.N. sanctions on Liberia to the progress of U.S., United Kingdom and Libya talks on nonproliferation. The U.S. ambassador and the Embassy staff stood their ground, even under heavy shelling by rebel forces, rather than evacuate the mission and abandon Liberians, as had been done 13 times by previous administrations.
Bush and his national security team used all elements of U.S. power to steer Liberia toward peace when it reached a tipping point of escalated violence in 2003. The investment in freedom was reinforced in 2006 when, after the election of Liberia's democratic government, Taylor was transferred for trial at The Hague to protect regional stability.
The Special Court of Sierra Leone delivered justice to the region last week by convicting Taylor of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Achieving the region's next milestones -- broad-based reconciliation and prosperity -- will require sustained American leadership.
Jendayi Frazer served under President George W. Bush as the special assistant and senior director for Africa from 2001 to 2004. In 2004 she became the first American female ambassador to South Africa, and from 2005 to 2009 she was the assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Currently, Frazer is a distinguished service professor at Carnegie Mellon University.