The BBC reports that Naomi Campbell might be subpoenaed to testify at the trial of Liberia’s ex-President Charles Taylor. Let’s remember that Mr Taylor, among other things, is accused of selling diamonds and buying weapons for Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front rebels, who, among other things, used to hack off people’s hands and legs during the 1991-2001 civil war. He was also quite a nasty piece of work in his home country too.
Did the supermodel between turns on the catwalk fly down to West Africa to get stuck into a spot of war crime? Apparently not. Prosecutors at The Hague say she was given rough diamonds by Taylor back in 1997 at Nelson Mandela’s house in South Africa. Says the prosecution motion filed with Special Court for Sierra Leone “Ms Campbell’s testimony is necessary as there is evidence that Ms Campbell was given rough diamonds by the accused (Taylor) in September 1997.”
It’s hard to know where to begin here. But firstly, let’s take a look at the notion of international war crimes tribunals. Trials are being held for Sierra Leone, and also for the ex-Yugoslavia, that is to say, for, failed, weak, easily overrun-able states. On the other hand, crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan by the British, American, French, German armies do not fall into the same category. Attempts to have Tony Blair prosecuted as a “war-criminal” enjoyed a vogue a couple of months back, but from those who consider Blair guilty of murder in Iraq, we have heard little about Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan. This is apparently because the West’s involvement there is a just cause. As long as we feel morally superior, the mission to civilise Afghan civilians with bombs and drone missiles might lead to hand-wringing but little else.
Aside from the obvious publicity an eventual subpoena on Ms Campbell might generate, you’ve got to wonder why her evidence is “necessary”. No questions have been raised, as far as I can see, as to why Nelson Mandela would have been dining with Taylor, or for that matter what insights Naomi Campbell could have brought to such an unusual repast. The only thing obvious here is that complex, dirty wars are now being reduced to the problem of the individual consumer. There is a weird hint here that Ms Campbell is complicit in a horrific war for having been the beneficiary of a product that funded it. In which case, in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to declare my complicity in the Iraq war. I am completely addicted to HobNob biscuits from England. I buy at least two or three packets of the things a week. Almost every day, my shirt is covered in crumbs of guilt. After all, part of Hobnobs’ revenues must have gone in taxes to the UK’s 32.6 billion pound defence budget. Subpoena HobNobs eaters now.
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