Liberia Update

There’s nothing particularly exciting to report, which is very good news. The country is quiet, or at least as quiet as it ever was. The Marines have gone home and UN peacekeepers are there for a year. Gyude Bryant, the leader of the two-year interim government, was sworn in a couple days ago. The main challenges now involve coaxing rebuilding funds out of the U.S. Congress and helping relief workers get stuff to where it’s needed. The Post has a good article about Kenneth Best, a famous Liberian journalist who’s going home to try to get a newspaper started again.

The biggest threat to the fragile peace appears to be Charles Taylor’s desire to stay involved in Liberian politics from exile. No doubt he envisions some sort of triumphant return, but is biding his time. Sierre Leone wants to nail him for war crimes, and the UN Security Council has issued a statement expressing concern that his continued interference could destabilize the region.

Presumably he’s just sitting around in a villa in Nigeria, making phone calls, but this raises a question: why can he get away with that much? Why does he even get a villa? He’s not the first—far worse dictators have lived much more comfortably. As a general principle, obviously it’s distasteful, but is it necessary? I have no idea. But I’ll see what I can find out about Taylor’s exile and exiled dictators generally, and report back in a day or five.