dinsdag, augustus 12, 2003


"Violent peace
blah blah blah
buy it right now
blah blah blah
we are the world
we are so huge
blah blah blah
johnny can't read
blah blah blah
I' can't see
blah blah blah
tuna on white
guns all night
blah blah blah"

--Iggy Pop

With a political landscape almost as chaotic as California, the Liberian leader, President Charles G. Taylor has finally stepped down to make way for Moses Blah.

President Blah. How perfect. If only we could give him political asylum to California and let him run for governor. The economy is at least as bad although to date, the rebel forces in California are not as heavily armed.

President Blah was one of the original band of rebels with Taylor who attacked Liberia from Ivory Coast in 1989 and has a reputation as a tough guerilla commander. The new President Blah said he would invite the rebels to his house after taking office and was "100 percent sure" he could bring peace. However, West African officials believe President Blah will lead Liberia for only a short period before warring factions and squabbling politicians agree on a neutral interim leader.

And just so you know him when you see him on the street, according to his CNN profile, Blah drives his own car and likes to dress in either simple safari suits or flowing African robes. As vice-president, he ditched his general's uniform in favour of African robes and drove himself around in a jeep rather than travelling in motorcades

He's had a rough road behind him. At the beginning of June he was under arrest accused of attempting to mount a coup against President Charles Tayor. Now, in just over two months later he is to succeed him. It's as though he entered and just won American Idol. Still, not everyone is convinced:

Sekou Fofana, a senior member of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, the group who have made repeated assaults on the capital, was reported to have said that "[They] are the same. If Blah takes over, we will fight back".

This is the kind of madness you expect from rebel leaders. How can they be the same? President Charles G. Taylor Taylor said he was fulfilling an old promise that: ''If I were the problem, which I know you know I'm not, I would step aside ... I would become the sacrificial lamb, I would become the whipping boy that you should live.''

If anything, he could be confused with US President Zachary Taylor, who said on his deathbed that "I have always done my duty. I am ready to die. My only regret is for the friends I leave behind me."

In February 1847, U.S. General Zachary Taylor fought Santa Anna--who was again president--in Mexico, at the Battle of Buena Vista near Saltillo. Both sides claimed victory. Taylor became a national hero in the United States and was elected president the next year.

Taylor launched Liberia's 14 years of near-constant conflict with a 1989-96 insurgency. International aid agencies estimate virtually all of Liberia's roughly 3 million people have been chased from their home by war, at one time or another. He was elected president in 1997 on threats of plunging the country into renewed bloodshed. His ragtag forces, paid by looting, are accused by rights groups and Liberia's people of routine raping, robbing, torture, forced labor and summary killings.

Liberian President Taylor was indicted by U.N.-backed court for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone, where he allegedly supported a rebel movement notorious for hacking off the limbs of civilians.

US President Zachary Taylor spent his Fourth of July in 1850 eating cherries and milk at a ceremony at the Washington Monument. He got sick from the heat and died five days later, the second president to die in office.

Accusing the United States of arming Liberia's rebels, Liberian President Taylor said: ''They can call off their dogs now, and we can have peace.''

US President Taylor, in his 1849 inauguration speech, noted:

"In all disputes between conflicting governments it is our interest not less than our duty to remain strictly neutral, while our geographical position, the genius of our institutions and our people, the advancing spirit of civilization, and, above all, the dictates of religion direct us to the cultivation of peaceful and friendly relations with all other powers. It is to be hoped that no international question can now arise which a government confident in its own strength and resolved to protect its own just rights may not settle by wise negotiation; and it eminently becomes a government like our own, founded on the morality and intelligence of its citizens and upheld by their affections, to exhaust every resort of honorable diplomacy before appealing to arms."

Liberian President Samuel Taylor, dropping out of office, indicated that he "must stop fighting now. I do not stop out of fear, I do not stop out of fright. I stop out of love for you my people.''

Lest we forget another important Taylor in American history, Sheriff Andy Taylor, not noted as a man who would stop fighting out of fear or love, once noted that:

"When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he's getting might really be fear. So I don't carry a gun because I don't want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I'd rather they respect me."

So, critics aside, Liberians should realize:

President Blah is the answer.

President Blah.

If he's lucky, maybe someday he can be the President of the new United States of Whatever.

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