So, they've finally nailed Charles Taylor, the despot of Liberia who contributed to atrocities and child soldiers in Sierra Leone. He's been sentenced to 50 years in the slammer.
Taylor is the first such tyrant to be tried, convicted and sentenced.
News reports of his sentencing have been greeted with assurances that dictators and tyrants around the world had now better be careful -- a precedent has been set that leaders who indulge in atrocities may face retribution from the International Criminal Court at the Hague.
Some even think that Taylor's fate may worry Syria's Bashar al-Assad, and perhaps persuade him to ease off on killing his people.
Baloney. If anything, Taylor's fate will make dictators-in-power even more adamant to keep their power, knowing what awaits them if they ever slacken control.
Sudan's Omar Hassan al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur. But he hasn't been served. All that has done is to dissuade him from going on shopping trips to Europe, presuming he ever wanted to. Someday, when he's ousted from power, someone will betray him to the ICC.
The fact that Syria's al-Assad continues his rampage against his people is sufficient testimony that there's no interest in direct action against homicidal leaders.
Frankly, it's hard to see the value of developed countries doing anything about Syria. Were the U.S., British, NATO or whoever to attempt to remove the Assad regime by force, criticism would be endless. Syria is a problem for Syrians to solve.
That thesis could also have applied to Libya, but NATO intervened with air attacks (including Canada), to hasten what was eventually going to happen anyway. Looking back, perhaps we'd have been wiser not to be responsible for Libya.
Charles Taylor is a special case. Educated in the U.S., he teamed up with Sam Doe in 1980 to overthrow the Liberian regime, and when accused of embezzling nearly $1 million, fled to the U.S.
In 1984 he was arrested in the U.S., imprisoned in Massachusetts while awaiting extradition for embezzling $1 million. In 1985 he escaped -- and disappeared, eventually turning up in Libya, and then Liberia where in 1989 he helped overthrow his old pal, Sam Doe who was then tortured to death.
Violence followed his political machinations. Taylor was elected President of Liberia in 1997 with a sweeping 75 per cent of the vote. He allegedly had a deal for U.S. evangelist Pat Robertson to mine diamonds in that country.
Taylor dabbled in Sierra Leone trading arms to rebels for blood diamonds, and encouraged atrocities and the use of child soldiers. Rebellion in Liberia and a losing cause in Sierra Leone forced Taylor out of the presidency in 2003. A UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone indicted Taylor for the 11 crimes against humanity for which he'd been convicted.
Interestingly, in 2003 the U.S. Congress passed an act whereby a $2 million reward was posted for Taylor's capture.
At his 2007 trial, he testified that during the 1980s he worked for the U.S. Defence Intelligence Agency and CIA, advising them on conditions oin Africa.
Now that Taylor has been sentenced, he'll likely be imprisoned in Britain, according to an agreement with the Dutch for holding his trial in the Hague.
The world has probably heard the last of Charles Taylor, especially if he had connections with U.S. intelligence which they'd undoubtedly want kept secret.
As for tyrants-in-power around the world now being more nervous because of Charles Taylor, it's unlikely. They'll die of old age first before being nabbed.