Cultural Revolutions

ICC Rising

It was a sad day for conservatives when, on December 5, 2011, Laurent Gbagbo rose to speak in the antiseptic courtroom of the International Criminal Court.  Polite, old-fashioned (if a little verbose), well-dressed (but obviously not very well), the 66-year-old former president of Ivory Coast was clearly upset to find himself a prisoner, having been a dignified head of state for the last decade.  He said he regretted that he had been taken to the airport even before he knew that he had been indicted, but he uttered his reproach in a soft voice and more in sorrow than in anger.  Although he is not a particularly long-serving head of state—he became president in 2000—Gbagbo had spent his time in office struggling to conserve the integrity of his state against the tripartite threat of communitarianism, Islam, and immigration.  So as he addressed the court, he seemed to have landed in The Hague from an earlier, more diffident era.

But it was a happy day for progressives.  The third head of state to have been indicted by the International Criminal Court (after President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the late, lamented Muammar Qaddafi of Libya), Laurent Gbagbo is the first actually to appear at the bar.  Bashir continues to flout the court and to be received in pomp by other African states (including, most recently, in post-Qaddafi Libya), while the former Guide...

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