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Today a special court at The Hague found former Liberian president Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was convicted of aiding and abetting rebels in Sierra Leone who committed horrendous acts—including rape, murder, and recruiting of child soldiers—during a civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002. An estimated 50,000 people perished. Taylor’s Liberia also suffered terribly under this warlord turned president. Forced from power and into exile in 2003, Taylor stands in sharp contrast to freedom advocate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who in 2005 was elected president of Liberia and became the first woman democratically elected to serve as a head of state in Africa. “[W]e inherited a devastated country, dysfunctional institutions, destroyed infrastructure. A debt overhang, debt-distressed country. Trauma. But we also had a population that was tired of war. And wanted to be normal again,” Sirleaf said in an interview for the Bush Center’s Freedom Collection. No longer among the ranks of the world’s “not free” countries, according to Freedom House, Liberia today is an electoral democracy in which corruption is under attack and basic rights are generally protected. Sirleaf acknowledges that “Yes, there are a lot of…disappointments and dissent…[P]eople think that their lives are going to change immediately, and there´s going be a magic wand….Just the ability to make it happen takes longer than we think.” But she also rightly sees that “we´ve come a long way. And that the future´s bright.” The Freedom Collection is a permanent archive of the struggle for human freedom and democracy around the world. Visit www.freedomcollection.org. This post was written by Amanda Schnetzer, Director of Human Freedom at the George W. Bush Institute.
Amanda Schnetzer serves as Fellow, Global Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas.
Previously, Amanda served as Director Global Initiatives after serving as founding director of the Human Freedom Initiative. In this role, she was responsible for developing innovative research, programmatic, and policy efforts to advance societies rooted in political and economic freedom and to empower women to lead in their communities and countries.
Amanda has twenty years of experience in the international arena and a background in public policy research and analysis, public affairs, and management of diverse, high-level stakeholders. As senior fellow and director of studies at Freedom House in New York, Amanda guided research for the organization’s definitive studies of freedom. She began her career at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC, supporting research on U.S. foreign policy and international politics. Amanda is a published writer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds degrees from Georgetown University and Southern Methodist University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.Full Bio
TARIFFIED: Trade Talk with Matthew Rooney
This week, trade relations between the U.S. and India are continuing to escalate. Earlier this month, the U.S. stopped granting India special trade privileges by taking away the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, and India has responded by enforcing more tariffs of its own. The George W. Bush-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Director Matthew Rooney breaks down the trade conflict: For more information on trade groups and the global economy, visit www.bushcenter.org/scorecard.
How Trade Spreads Holiday Cheer
It is projected that the average American household will spend more than $1,000 during the holidays this year.
Deporting Salvadorans May Lead to Economic Decline
We should think carefully about a policy whose major impacts are likely to be reductions in employment and economic activity here at home, and increased instability and lawlessness along our borders.
Bush Institute's Laura Collins Talks Immigration on Good Morning Texas
Last week, Deputy Director of Economic Growth at the George. W. Bush Institute Laura Collins spoke with Good Morning Texas about immigration myths. During the interview, Collins had the opportunity to set the record straight and address common misconceptions about legal immigrants living in America today. The segment was inspired from facts released earlier this fall by the Bush Institute in the third edition of America's Advantage: A Handbook on Immigration and Economic Growth. Watch the full Good Morning Texas interview here.