A Country Torn Apart
Amputations by ax are the tools of terror
January 30, 2000
of Three Parts
early 1999, while all eyes were focused on the refugees of Kosovo, another grim
drama was unfolding in West Africa, a war that at the time was the world's
cruelest, as well as its most invisible.
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - Alpha heard banging
at the gates of his family's compound, then gunshots. He looked out a
second-story window and saw the rebels.
Some wore the combat camouflage of Sierra
Leone's disintegrated army. Some wore black jeans, Tupac Shakur T-shirts. A few
had wrapped their hair in handkerchiefs patterned with the American flag. All
of them wore red bandannas around their foreheads. Adhesive strips patched
their faces, as if they had been cat-scratched. The strips masked incisions
where the rebels had ingested cocaine, amphetamines or other drugs that wired
their heads for battle.
eastern Freetown on Monday morning, Jan. 18, 1999, a war that at that moment
was the world's cruelest, as well as its most invisible, entered the parlor of
the Jalloh family, where breakfast lay unfinished on a table in the center of
It was not easy to say why the rebels entered
one house and not another, but a faint air of prosperity hung over this gated
compound on Kissy Road. Dalibeh Jalloh's nine children by two wives included
the three sweet-faced sons now standing frightened by the window. The oldest
was Alpha, 22, who traded gold-plated watches he bought in Guinea, had a
girlfriend, danced in Freetown's nightclubs and now listened as the rebels
crashed through the last door and climbed the stairs.
They demanded money, and Alpha's father
handed over bundles. Gun barrels swung to the brothers. A rebel commander
ordered them outside. Their mother sat in a chair before the unfinished food
and wept. Their father begged: "Please don't take them. They are my
children. Don't take them."
Outside, the rebels forced them into line.
They marched up a red clay road past small shacks and shops toward grassy
hills. The brothers began to cry. The line of youths swelled with other
abductees as they walked. Some rebels told the boys their hands would be cut
off and sent back to the democratically elected president of Sierra Leone,
Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, as a symbol of the rebels' power. Others said the boys
would be killed.
Two hundred yards up the slope they reached a
school driveway. Before a metal gate stood a tall, thin rebel the others called
Tommy. Drug strips covered his face. He held an ax.
A neighbor boy went first. As rebels trained
assault rifles at his head, he stretched on his stomach on broken concrete
before the school gate and extended his arm.
Tommy raised the ax high above his head and
slammed it down. Once, twice, three times, four times. The boy's severed hand
seemed to jump away from him.
The line shuffled forward. Alpha, weeping and
shaking, watched his younger brother Amadu, 17, stretch out his right arm.
As Tommy raised his ax, Alpha closed his
Helen jolted awake. "We've come!"
she heard the rebels shout. "You thought we were not coming back to the
city! We're here!"
It was three days later in a middle-class
neighborhood up the slope from the school gate, where the war would now force
its way into the second-story apartment of a salaried government bureaucrat and
his 20-year-old daughter, Helen.
Helen, an earnest student who radiates energy
and beauty, has a daughter by her boyfriend, Abdul. She lives at home in the
wind-caressed suburban hills above Freetown, where she lounges with her doting
father, and sneaks away with Abdul, and thinks about going into business, as
she and her girlfriends sometimes have done in small ways, trading shampoo and
Like Alpha, she belongs to a generation of
young Africans whose parents' ambitions have delivered them from rural poverty
to urban aspiration.
In Freetown, the capital of what the United
Nations describes as the poorest nation in the world, there is not a regular
supply of electricity or a reliable telephone system, but inevitably, there is
a functioning cyber cafe, and the streets pulse with battery-powered hip-hop
music, generator-operated satellite news and the buying power of Western Union
money transfers sent by the tens of thousands who have made it to Europe and
A progressive generation of young and
ambitious Africans, you might say admiringly, except that besides Helen and
Alpha, it also includes Tommy and his nihilistic brethren - ex-soldiers and
self-styled revolutionaries who roam and sprawl across the continent, armed
with Chinese- and East European-manufactured assault rifles, propelled by
grievance, greed and a broad experience of impunity.
night of Jan. 21, two rebels entered Helen's suburban apartment, roughed up her
father and told him they were taking away his daughter.
He begged them to leave her alone. "If
you keep complaining, we're going to kill you," one of the rebels said.
The next morning, her parents watched Helen
walk at gunpoint up the hill. She found herself walking with another
neighborhood girl who also had been abducted. The pair wept and begged to be
"I am a school-going girl," Helen
"I don't want to know," replied her
captor, whom she would come in the months ahead to know as Col. Bloodshed.
The rebels took them into the grass and raped
them. Then they pushed them on toward camp.
He felt sharp pain when the ax first fell.
The second, third and fourth times, Amadu felt nothing. When Tommy had
finished, the rebels picked Amadu up and kicked him away from the chopping
block at the school gate. He did not stay to watch his brothers, Alpha and
Dawda, who were behind him in line. Bleeding profusely, he walked and fell,
walked and fell, then collapsed on the clay road.
Alpha stumbled upon him. He, too, was now
bleeding from a stump. They walked about a mile toward Freetown. The streets
were deserted. They knocked on a stranger's door along a main road. A family
bundled them inside. Alpha and Amadu sought to commit suicide, but instead
their hosts wrapped their wounds, gave them milk and tried to assure them that
they would survive. The boys slept fitfully in the parlor. Nigerian artillery
shells echoed outside. When the sun rose, the boys found themselves on a street
newly controlled by pro-government forces. They were taken to a hospital and
bedded in a ward where dozens of amputees were beginning to arrive.
The next day, their half-brother tracked them
down. He told them that their 10-year-old brother, Dawda, had bled to death in
the street after his amputation and had been buried in a makeshift grave
nearby. Their parents and younger sister had been locked inside their home,
which the rebels had set on fire. There was nothing left of them or the house,
only charred concrete and rubble.
Outside the hospital where the brothers lay,
scores of bloodied stragglers and desperate relatives wandered in the streets,
searching for medical help or seeking news of the abducted. On street after
street in the eastern suburbs, the rebels had staged elaborately orchestrated
attacks. Families were corralled and divided, some selected for death, some for
amputation, some set free. Children were raped within earshot or view of their
parents. The disoriented survivors zigzagged toward Freetown's center, hoping
for medical attention or refuge.
All through late January, corpses lay
unattended in the streets. At the Kissy Mental Hospital farther up the hill,
Human Rights Watch would report, about 16 men were executed and six women
hacked with machetes. At the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star Church in nearby
Wellington, another 12, including three children, were massacred with pistols
and assault rifles. Entire streets were sprayed with kerosene and set alight.
Human Rights Watch, citing the government's
senior medical examiner, reported that 7,335 corpses were registered for burial
after the January rebel offensive. Thousands more people simply disappeared -
dead or kidnapped, their families did not know.
Helen's family was among them: They had no
idea what had become of her after she was led away by the rebels.
As Kissy burned, Helen lay imprisoned at a
rebel camp not far away. For what she would recall as a period of about two
weeks, she was gang-raped by boys and men roving in and out of the base. By
February, shelled by Nigerian and Guinean troops, the captors struck camp and
trekked to the bush. They arrived at an isolated patch of jungle called the
Occra Hills and settled in. Helen was forbidden to speak freely with other
rebel captives. In the deepest trough of night, she remembers, "when they
were asleep, I would raise up my head to see if everyone was sleeping. But
there was no way to escape."
February passed this way. And March, April.
The BBC resounded with news of a major war in the Balkans. In Sierra Leone, the
war ebbed; negotiations for peace had begun in neighboring countries, sponsored
by the United Nations. The rebels awaited the results.
"One night," Helen recalls,
"they were drunk after smoking and drinking. All drunk, and dancing. And
they all passed out. . . . I was watching them, thinking."
Helen and another abductee, Fatmatah, slipped
into the forest. For hours they crashed through the blackness, slicing
themselves on vines and brambles. They reached a stream and rested until dawn.
In the light they stumbled down from the hills, found a village and were
sheltered by an old woman. After two days, Helen pressed on for Freetown alone.
She walked until she found the main road, waved down a van, spilled out her
tale and begged the driver for a ride.
In Freetown hours later she spotted an uncle
in the street, leaped out and asked about her family. Her father, the
government official, was in Connaught Hospital. The rebels had burned her home.
Everything was lost. But her parents had survived.
At Connaught, she spotted her father sitting
in the sun behind a railing on a second-story balcony.
"Papa! Papa! I've come! I've come!"
Astonished, he called to his wife and raced
to meet his daughter. Weeping and shouting, they embraced in the hospital
hallway, and Helen saw the bandaged stumps above her father's elbows where his
two arms had been.
Some of Freetown's amputees live in a village
of blue and white canvas shacks, not far from the center of town. The
"Medecins Sans Frontieres Amputee and War Wounded Camp," as it calls
itself on a sign scrawled near a busy road, holds 371 registered amputees and
their families. Drainage ditches run among rows of tacked-together homes
supplied by a patchwork of foreign charities. A primary school assembles each
morning under an open thatched-roof gazebo. Up the slope, men are raising
felled tree limbs to construct a new mosque.
It is an eerie, nervous time in Freetown. An
uncertain peace has held just long enough that some rebels are beginning to
drift out of the bush and back into the capital, looking for jobs or friends or
just a break from sleeping on the ground. Sierra Leone is small enough and
frightened enough that people keep track of strangers in their midst, and
sometimes a neighborhood can identify returning rebels as soon as they shuffle
up the road. Then questions of justice and equity and international law acquire
an immediacy not often felt in The Hague. Some of the returnees have been
lynched or burned alive. More often the streets ring out with shouts or threats
or spontaneous debates.
The appetite for peace runs so deep and so
broad in Sierra Leone that it smothers all else. Even some who have been badly
abused by the rebels are prepared to accept them into politics if it truly
means peace. Ask about justice, and you hear about its impossibility - no one
can imagine how you could give evidence safely. The rebels are ministers now,
they drive around town in new cars with sirens and armed escorts. They can snap
their fingers and come and take you in the night. Who is going to testify
In the voices of the wounded pulses an
impressive effort to close off the past. To do so requires a resilience that no
outsider readily can imagine.
And yet there are those who atrophy, even
now, even in the snug village of blue and white canvas shacks, where Alpha and
Amadu Jalloh, two brothers with two complementary arms, share a room behind a
flap and drift off to town most days to hustle and trade in a loose network of
shops run by their diminished family.
It is Alpha everybody worries about. He
sickens easily, he won't often leave the amputees' camp. You walk with him
around town and you discover that when a 22-year-old with girlfriends and gold
watches and a reputation in the neighborhood sees his arm chopped off while
lying face down in the road, he loses something more. He becomes a spectacle, a
source of political meaning, an object of pity, an object of disgust.
"Look at what the bastards did!"
onlookers call out in anger.
Alpha is staring at the eroded red clay.
"Right now, walking with you, I feel
ashamed," he tells me. "I have no fitness. They are pitying me."
They are, of course. If he sits in the
cashier's chair at his sister-in-law's vegetable stall, customers simply will
walk up to him and hand him money. It infuriates him.
"I would rather have died than be living
like this," he says softly.
We reach the school gate where Tommy stood a
year earlier. Alpha points out the spots where the line formed, where the boys
lay down, where the ax fell.
He doubles over. He is not feeling well. We
need to go back down the hill. We need to take him to the doctor.
"My arm hurts," Alpha says..
Coll is the managing editor of The Washington Post.
Gen. Mosquito holds court at his rebel base
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone - At the spot on the
world's maps where northwestern Liberia officially ends and eastern Sierra
Leone begins lies a shell of broken concrete. No government officials from
either country work here, only teenagers with assault rifles. They do not much
care for passports or formalities.
A man in a red beret steps briskly to our
jeep and introduces himself as town commander of the Revolutionary United Front
(RUF), Sierra Leone's fearsome rebel army. Two other rebels crowd forward,
announcing themselves as "Chuck Norris" and "Rambo."
Welcome, they declare sincerely.
A few miles ahead lies the RUF's base
headquarters in the isolated rain forest town of Buedu. There we have been
invited to interview and photograph Sam "Gen. Mosquito" Bockarie, the
RUF's military leader. As much as any other person, he will decide whether
Sierra Leone begins the new century at war or peace.
Our journey had begun six weeks earlier in
Washington D.C., over lunch with John Caldwell, who describes himself as a
former executive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He explained that he had been
retained by the RUF to handle certain business affairs for the rebels, whose
territory includes most of Sierra Leone's coveted diamond mines. They felt they
suffered from poor public relations, in part because no Western journalists had
ever visited their headquarters or traveled behind their lines. They wanted to
convince the outside world that the RUF was not commanded by limb-amputating psychopaths,
but by revolutionaries with legitimate grievances and political goals.
More than 10,000 people had been murdered,
raped, abducted or maimed by rebels in a campaign of calculated terror. In
their vividness and gratuitous cruelty, the mass amputations epitomized the
powerlessness of ordinary Africans.
They also marked a climactic spasm in a
grinding, eight-year civil war shaped by familiar patterns. Outsiders exploited
Sierra Leone's diamonds and other resources. Neighboring nations sought advantage
by interfering with internal conflicts. Post-colonial politics lay in ruins,
felled by autocracy and corruption. The international media paid little
attention. And the great powers stood aside, numbed by Africa's wars and
Finding money to halt aggression against
civilians, build democratic society or even vaccinate children in a country
such as Sierra Leone had become a demoralizing, often-futile endeavor in
official Washington. Many Africans added all this up and saw systematic racism
- a place in global affairs that reflected continuous discrimination and
exploitation since the days of the Atlantic slave trade.
As we rattled among palms and through
neck-high grasses along the clay track into rebel headquarters at Buedu, one
question hanging over Sierra Leone was whether the RUF really wanted the peace
it had won. A shaky cease-fire had prevailed since July between government and
rebel forces, but clashes among rebel factions erupted regularly. The Lome
agreement requires all combatants to disarm under U.N. supervision and enter
into rehabilitation camps for schooling and job training. But the camps,
especially in the forest areas controlled by Gen. Mosquito, have mostly stood
Mosquito has been the focus of Sierra Leone's
anxiety about whether peace will hold. Leading a force of more than 10,000
armed men, he was perhaps the most feared man in Sierra Leone. As the RUF's
chief of defense staff, he was the rebels' most prominent battlefield commander
in recent years, the man in charge on the ground while the movement's supreme
political leader, a former army photographer named Foday Sankoh, languished in
jail or in exile.
Rarely photographed or seen in public,
Mosquito moved like a spectral demon around the country's rain forests,
surfacing via satellite telephone to issue blood-curdling threats through
Freetown media or the BBC World Service.
"I am a good-looking man, a big showman,
I like good living," Mosquito declared, tilting to aim a menacing stare at
the Egyptian colonel sitting beside him. "Can you en-camp me!!?"
No, the Egyptian allowed, it seemed unlikely
that Mosquito would enroll in a U.N. rehabilitation camp. The colonel sat
nervously with three other U.N. military observers. The U.N. team had turned up
in confused circumstances late that afternoon at the town's western entrance.
They seemed to think they had been arrested.
Mosquito sat center stage at this ambiguous
tribunal, resplendent in quasi-military dress: a felt beret with two pinned
stars, combat camouflage, a silver pistol and, around his neck, a medallion in
the shape of Africa hooked to a shiny, gold chain.
For the past half-hour, he had declaimed
about the failings of the United Nations in Sierra Leone and around the world.
He complained bitterly that U.N. observers such as these four had been
traversing RUF-controlled territory without his knowledge. He dramatically
threatened to withdraw security guarantees for U.N. personnel. He mentioned the
commander of Sierra Leone's U.N. military observer force by name and threatened
him with death.
And then, after declaring, "We are ready
to disarm, but it should be done in a way that guarantees our security and
provides something of what we fought for," Mosquito told the officers they
Mosquito had arranged this spectacle as much
for our benefit as for the United Nations', it seemed.
Our host was ebullient. He talked for hours
about the war, the prospects for peace, and his life story, which involved his
rise from professional nightclub dancer and women's hairdresser to national
revolutionary commander. He buzzed flamboyantly around town on an off-road
motorcycle. He changed clothes frequently - safari suits, European designer
wraparound sunglasses, the latest designer jeans and, for a family photo on our
final morning, a smart charcoal double-breasted suit.
He would pull up to us on his dirt bike, lean
back on the seat, and make pronouncements in lilting English such as, "I
am a military man, and I don't think I can transform myself into a civilian. I
will die as a soldier." Pause. "Or I will retire as a soldier."
Vroooooom . . .
Mosquito is a Big Man in a small town. He
delivered thumping speeches to his men about his decision to live in the rain
forest rather than in Freetown. He forswore political ambition. "I don't
want to be minister. I don't want to be president," he told them.
"All I want is to see this revolution through. But we will not disarm
until total revolution is achieved in Sierra Leone."
Total revolution? And that would look like?
The arid phrases of Moammar Gadhafi's Green
Book, the Libyan leader's manifesto for "people's revolution," blew
through Buedu like a bad wind. Free schooling, free medical care, an end to
corruption, nepotism and tribalism - these have been the slogans of RUF
pamphlets and radio broadcasts for years. The rebels' themes successfully tap
popular disgust over Sierra Leone's failed one-party politics after
independence. They speak to a generation of rural young people - including
Mosquito himself - who never made it to Freetown.
Yet war-ravaged RUF-controlled territory is
so poor that it is all most people can do to feed themselves from small rice
plots and fruit trees. The RUF appoints commanders to run towns and cities,
honors traditional chiefs where they have survived, and lately has tried to
work with foreign charities and citizen committees to develop social services.
But the forests remain a desperate subsistence economy.
Confident theories of national revolution
rang out noisily in Buedu nonetheless. Most startling was the ideological
fountainhead of one Martin Coker, "personal assistant to Gen.
Mosquito," who told us he had lived in the Washington, D.C., area for much
of the 1990s.
Born to an elite Freetown family, Coker
attended school in Britain and then migrated to America, where he developed a
business putting up ceilings in office buildings - including, he said, CIA
headquarters in Langley, Va. A neo-Marxist, he returned to Africa in 1997,
winding up at Mosquito's base camp.
Coker ran the general's satellite telephone,
television and radio systems; helped to write Mosquito's letters to RUF
colleagues, the United Nations and foreign heads of state; and maintained a
computer room. He became our effusive guide to the RUF's nascent revolutionary
On our final night at RUF headquarters, we
sat with Mosquito in a dark concrete room and talked for hours about his past
and future, tracing a journey that holds many threads of West Africa's crisis.
I asked about his battlefield leadership of
the RUF's war and the terrible violence inflicted on civilians. He had been
waiting for questions about human rights. As he prepared to answer, he pulled
his pistol out of his jeans pocket and set it on his thigh. It seemed an
"I don't believe in innocent killing in
the field," he replied emphatically.
Through his satellite and Internet
connections to global news, it became clear, Mosquito had studied in some depth
his potential problems under war-crimes law. He criticized Mary Robinson, the
U.N. high commissioner for human rights, because she had suggested RUF
commanders eventually might be subject to prosecution, despite the Lome
accord's amnesty. He insisted that he, personally, had only executed men under
justifiable circumstances - to enforce martial law or prevent desertions.
"I have no outlaw record," he said. "If soldiers have raped, I
have executed them. If soldiers have dropped arms, I have disciplined them.
Those are the only two crimes I have committed."
What about the dozens of boys and young women
in his camp who had been abducted and recruited by the RUF? "We don't
force people to join," he answered. "When we capture these girls, we
encourage the young people to join," and they do, voluntarily.
He claimed that he never had ordered
amputations of civilians. He said ex-soldiers allied with the RUF, but not
directly under its command, were responsible for the worst atrocities in
Freetown in January. (Human-rights investigators say those ex-soldiers probably
did carry out a large proportion of the violence, but that RUF combatants also
carried out amputations, killings and abductions.) Mosquito accused government
militias of carrying out amputations and then blaming them on the RUF. (We met
amputees in Buedu who told credible stories of being tortured by the government
militias. New York-based Human Rights Watch accuses the militias of
human-rights violations, but says abuses by the RUF and its allied ex-soldiers
have taken place on a far greater scale.)
Once the amputations began, Mosquito said,
each side retaliated against the other. "It started as a revenge. If some
have done it to your relatives, you will go back and do this. To boys who had
their hands cut . . . when you see this with your own eyes, you want to take
revenge on their families."
Yet the longer he talked, the more it became
clear that, superpowers or no, Mosquito at 35 lacked a convincing vision of his
Last spring, he said, Lebanese intermediaries
working for the U.S. government offered him $2.5 million to leave Sierra Leone
and settle peacefully in Nigeria. He said he asked the negotiators to bring the
cash to the Liberia-Sierra Leone border. "I was going to ambush them, deal
with them ruthlessly and spend the money on arms," he said. They refused
to come. Afterward, he told that story repeatedly to his followers and vowed
never to be bought off.
Still, as the night wore on, he talked
wistfully of Paris or America, even though he knew he would be vulnerable to
arrest in such places. Other times he talked of his desire to lead Sierra
Leone's army after the next election. And then, over and over, he waved his
arms and threatened angrily to retreat from Buedu to the rain forest and start
the war all over again.
"Open the arsenal!" our host
declared dramatically on our final afternoon in Buedu, as his men loaded
supplies into a dented Toyota pickup equipped with several boxes of
rocket-propelled grenade shells, a half-dozen grenade launchers, cans of
sardines, beer and soda, and a last-minute gift from Mosquito himself, a
three-quarters-full bottle of Irish cream liqueur.
The pickup also would carry us, an RUF
colonel, two other commanders, one of our Liberian police escorts and, in the
truck bed, all of our luggage plus eight bodyguards armed with assault rifles.
Coll is the managing editor of The Washington Post.
The West's role: Why Kosovo and not here?
WASHINGTON - Was there really anything the United
States or its European allies could have done to ameliorate Sierra Leone's
violence? Perhaps - and it would not have involved a wrenching decision to put
U.S. or NATO soldiers at risk. But it would have required a view of Africa far
different from the one that has shaped U.S. foreign policy during most of the
As U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia six
years ago after sustaining casualties on a humanitarian mission, American
journalist Robert Kaplan wrote in the Atlantic Monthly an influential essay
partially set in Sierra Leone titled "The Coming Anarchy."
He described the country as engulfed by
"an increasing lawlessness" that signaled a world where
"criminal anarchy emerges as the real `strategic' danger," where
Africa and much of the rest of the Third World would be marked by "the
withering away of central governments, the rise of tribal and regional domains,
the unchecked spread of disease and the growing pervasiveness of war."
Kaplan's thesis that Africa was drifting
beyond governance took hold with many members of Congress, diplomats and
foreign-policy analysts. Americans and Europeans watched passively during
Rwanda's genocide in 1994. President Clinton later expressed pangs of regret.
Nine months before the crisis in Freetown, he embarked on a six-country tour of
Africa, and he apologized in Rwanda for the West's failure to intervene. But in
early 1999, as the rebels entered Sierra Leone's capital and began to butcher
civilians, the United States shut its embassy and stood down.
There was an alternative. By late 1998,
Nigeria had already placed thousands of troops in Sierra Leone with support
from a broad alliance of African governments. This alliance would almost
certainly have battled the rebels indefinitely if the United States and Britain
had provided support - as they have subsequently pledged to do, on a more
limited scale, with the current Lome peace accord.
Not that a military victory would have been
certain or inexpensive. Nor would it have necessarily curtailed violence
against civilians. But reducing the Revolutionary United Front to a marginal,
defeated force scattered in the bush probably could have been achieved with an
all-African intervention army roughly the size of the one that eventually
State Department officials say such a
scenario was hardly even discussed at the White House. The handful of
specialists paying attention weren't sure the RUF could be defeated on the
battlefield. And the humanitarians in Washington and London who complained
about Africa's neglect had little stomach for a military solution. When Tony
Blair's government was caught early in 1999 trying to smuggle arms to help
fight the rebels, outrage among liberals in Britain forced the government to
apologize and back down.
So instead, the United States and Britain
leaned on Sierra Leone's elected president to open peace talks with the rebels
just weeks after they had slaughtered thousands in Freetown. The Clinton
administration turned the case file over to the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Sam
"Gen. Mosquito" Bockarie, commanding 10,000 teenagers in the rain
forest, claimed the upper hand.
Why would the United States go along with his
demands? To secure peace, argues Jackson, but also because an isolationist
Congress and an indifferent public meant the United States had no alternative.
"If we could go in there with half of
the Kosovo budget and use that budget as an essential force to democratize,
we'd have something to offer," Jackson says. But countries only intervene
where public opinion insists or strategic interests are seen to be at stake.
Defending the peace negotiations and amnesty
plan for the rebels, the architects of the Lome accord cite East Africa's
Mozambique as inspiration. There a similar peace agreement persuaded Renamo - a
guerrilla group that once terrorized and mutilated civilians - to forswear
violence and enter politics. Last month, Mozambique staged its latest
successful elections after five years of peace and surging economic growth.
Renamo leaders sit in Parliament; they have no war-crimes tribunals to fear.
But much has changed in the world since
Mozambique's peace was forged in 1994. War-crimes tribunals have convened for
Yugoslavia and Rwanda. And in Kosovo, of course, an entire war was framed in
1999 around the ideas of international humanitarian law.
"We are all internationalists now,
whether we like it or not," Blair said last year, explaining why the world
intervened militarily to stop paramilitary bloodshed in Kosovo (as it would
later in East Timor).
Expanding global trade, satellites, the World
Wide Web and human migration have combined to create "the beginnings of a
new doctrine of international community" extending beyond economics to
human rights, he added.
Acknowledging the obvious limits of such a
doctrine, however, Blair worried that "as yet . . . our approach tends
toward being ad hoc."
Blair sought to measure his millennial ideas
by the world's conduct in Kosovo during the last year of the 20th century. But
an African might want to measure them against the world's conduct in Sierra
Leone during that same year of 1999.