Former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s conviction for war crimes in Sierra Leone represents another milestone in a long journey toward peace, freedom and justice for residents of both African nations.
A pivotal marker on the road to progress was President George W. Bush’s call in June 2003 for Taylor to “step down so that his country could be spared further bloodshed.” The timing of Bush’s words was amplified as he prepared to depart on his first multi-country trip as president to Africa and was on the verge of sending U.S. Marines to Liberia. The United States was widely viewed as key in stopping Liberia’s brutal 14-year civil war, which Taylor funded by plundering Sierra Leone’s conflict diamonds with the help of that country’s Revolutionary United Front rebels.
U.S. leadership and diplomacy shaped the events that culminated in Taylor’s conviction on April 26. Looking back on the United States’ role in