Monday, October 15, 2007


I've gone on about Blackwater in the past (by the way, here's some more P.W. Singer on the matter). The phrase I've used to describe the rise of private military firms as something indicative of "post-modern warfare." I'll leave the definition of the phrase alone for the time being (it's not an easy phrase to define briefly) and point that in contrast to what Balckwater is designed for "Colonel" Robert Denard, who died recently was an "old school" mercenary -- and there little question about that.

Some career highlights:

* "In 1968 he was back in the Congo, attempting to invade Katanga with 100 men on bicycles. This farcical episode ended in failure, and Denard left the Congo for the last time."

* "In later years Denard became obsessed with the Comoros Islands, an impoverished but idyllic group of islands in the Indian Ocean which had been part of the French Empire. He overthrew the government of the Comoros on no fewer than four occasions.

He first helped to depose Ahmed Abdullah in 1975, after which a young maniac called Ali Soilih seized power, and a group of teenage tearaways ran amok for two years: the chief of police was 15."

* "He enrolled in a marine school and joined the French Navy, eventually serving in Indo-China as a corporal aboard a ship that was involved in patrol work in the Mekong Delta.

But Denard resented the injustices of the French class system; he left the navy and joined the colonial police in Morocco. He began to adopt aliases, beginning with André Maurin and then Gilbert Bourgeaud.

In Casablanca he fell in with Right-wing groups and was allegedly involved in a plot to assassinate Pierre Mendès-France, the Left-wing French prime minister. He served 14 months in prison on remand before being acquitted.

Denard returned to France, where he worked as a bathroom appliance salesman, complaining that he was 'bored s***less'. Then a friend showed him a newspaper advertisement for security men needed to guard mining companies in Katanga, and within weeks he had emerged in Tshombe's Katanga province in the Congo dressed in a commando's uniform and using the self-bestowed rank of 'colonel'."

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