Editor’s note: Longtime WorldNetDaily contributor Anthony C. LoBaido has followed the development of white-led mercenary armies from South Africa and the UK for nearly 10 years. From New York to Namibia, from Bulgaria to Australia and from the United Kingdom to the United Nations, LoBaido connects the dots for WorldNetDaily readers.
In this exclusive three-part series, LoBaido details the complex issue of mercenaries and their modern use in African wars like the conflicts in Sierra Leone and Angola, as well as in Papua New Guinea. In addition, there is an analysis of the brief deployment of mercenary personnel to deal with South Africa’s farm killings. LoBaido also covers the effect of HIV/AIDS on African armies and the corresponding “state decay” – child soldiers and the de facto deployment of African Regional Peacekeepers as suggested by the G8 and African Union.
It should be noted that the mercenary force that took the Soyo oil complex in Angola was comprised of all white mercenaries. Yet in Sierra Leone, most of the mercenaries were black and those soldiers fought well under a white-led command structure. The focus of this series centers on the mercenaries’ ethno-European leadership and corporate connections.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – “Mercenaries have always been misunderstood,” says Bert Sachse. He knows from whence he speaks. Mr. Sachse is a 34-year veteran of the old Rhodesian and South African special forces. Moreover, Sachse commanded the world’s most recent mercenary war during the mid-1990s in the troubled West African nation of Sierra Leone.
Sachse is a part of an ancient legacy of mercenaries, such as the white, Christian Serbs who served the Ottoman Sultan over the course of several centuries, the Swiss Guards who have and still guard the pope, the men who expanded Napoleon’s Empire, the myriad of faces who forged the French Foreign Legion and the Gurkhas of Nepal, who still serve in the Indian and British armies. Of course, there exists the latest and most special breed of mercenary soldier – the white African.
Over 1,500 white South African soldiers fought as mercenaries in the recent U.S.-led war in Iraq. Not all of them returned home alive. They worked mostly as bodyguards and did dangerous de-mining work. Just as scores of Americans fought on the Afrikaner side during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), so too did these Afrikaners come to America’s need during a time of crisis.
South Africa’s ruling ANC regime, which was and remains fiercely pro-Saddam and strongly anti-U.S., officially frowned on the Afrikaners fighting against Saddam’s regime.
This disapproval pointed to a wider problem facing the ANC regime: what to do about South Africa’s “left over” elite, white soldiers – some of the very best fighting men on the face of the Earth.
Speaking of the way the U.S. and UK had been working to depose Hussein’s regime in Iraq with the help of white South Africa mercenaries, South Africa’s Marxist President Thabo Mbeki commented, “If the U.N. does not matter, why should we, the little countries of Africa that make up the African Union, think that we matter and will not be punished if we get out of line? The challenge we face is to understand why the rulebook of the democratic must apply unevenly as between ourselves and other countries of the north such as Great Britain.”
Recently, the G8, working hand-in-glove with Mbeki’s plans for the rising African Union or “AU” (in which Africa will merge into a single political, economic, trade and military entity) essentially said, “There is no place in Africa for white mercenaries.”
Writing in a piece entitled “Dream of Africa’s revival has no place for adventure-seeking soldiers of fortune,” which appeared in the March 24, 2004, issue of The Cape Times, ANC intelligence minister Lindiwe Sisulu told the South African National Academy of Intelligence: “… between 1963 and 1998, no fewer than 26 armed conflicts occurred within Africa, affecting 61 percent of the continent’s population. Over 200 regimes were ousted by coups d’etat and other non-democratic means in the same period.”
Speaking of the South African mercenaries held in Zimbabwe this summer for allegedly plotting the overthrow of the leftist regime in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea (British ringleader Simon Mann was sentenced to seven years in jail), Sisulu said, “It should fill each of us here with pride that our efforts are bearing fruit … heralding a new identity for Africa, an identity of stability. The message that is resoundingly clear from these efforts, to both coup plotters and mercenaries, is that their day in Africa has ended. At the launch of the African Union in July 2002, every African head of state reiterated the common desire for Africa to rid itself of military takeovers and illegitimate governments.”
However, Sisulu’s remarks fly in the face of a small cadre of tarantulas crawling across the wedding cake of Meki and his dream for an African Union free of white influence – except for begging for development funds, combating HIV/AIDS, high technology and export markets for South Africa’s commodity-driven economy.
The first of these counter-flows involved a Green Paper published by the British government that seeks to legalize mercenaries as “private military companies” or PMCs. With AIDS turning Africa into a nightmare of biblical proportions, white mercenaries, comprised of elite ex-special forces, are seen as possible trainers for the young, black African armies of the future. Rouge child and teen irregular militias are already the fair de jour in countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Uganda and several others.
On Feb. 13, 2002, the much-anticipated Labor government’s Foreign Office Green Paper on mercenaries stated that soldiers for hire may have a role to play in “securing peace.”
In former British colonies like Sierra Leone, the mercenary group Executive Outcomes brought order, if only temporarily. EO went into Sierra Leone on behalf of the diamond and gem interests held by powerful, private British-owned business interests in the town of Kono.
Apparently, there are times when EO and Sandline, another mercenary organization, work hand-in-hand with the British government and its corporate elites. These mercenary groups are often given a cut in the form of cash payments or mining rights in exchange for training government forces to vanquish rebel groups holding lands that house mineral and/or oil wealth.
The Green Paper also said that the mercenary armies, which it called “reputable private firms,” may be able to “do a better job” and “be more cost-effective” than U.N. forces.
Quoting the Green Paper: “It is at least possible that if the tasks of UNAMSIL (United Nations Mission to Sierra Leone) were put out to tender, private companies would be able to do the job more cheaply and more effectively. There may be a case for examining this option.” The U.N. has already started using mercenary/PMC companies in ancillary roles providing equipment and “security” in various U.N. operations around the world.
South Africa’s Mbeki and the emerging African Union are, with the blessing of the G8, pushing for the deployment of regional peacekeeping forces around Africa. They hope this will be checkmate for the white mercenary armies, who in reality are comprised mostly of black foot soldiers on the ground, led by a white officer, corporate and logistical corps.
Yet the rise of black African regional peacekeeping forces may be too little too late for the many millions of Africans killed during the 1990s in nations like the DRC, Sudan and Rwanda – where the U.N. and France were accused of aiding those who launched the Rwandan genocide.
Second, the ANC used Executive Outcomes, then the world’s largest private, mercenary army, to defeat the anti-Marxist, anti-ANC, UNITA rebel forces in Angola. UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi “was hounded until he was killed,” says Willem Ratte, perhaps the world’s greatest living small-team special forces operator. “One can’t blame the mercenaries who fought in order to feed their families. But it was simply unethical.”
Continued Sisulu in the aforementioned address: “Our country cannot be used … to foment and plan coups. The National Intelligence Agency and the National Communications Center are making sure that this does not happen and will not happen in the future. … The South African Secret Service will make sure that this does not take place because the security of legitimate governments in Africa is inextricably linked with our own stability and development. Further, we as a people will not stand by and allow mercenaries of whatever description and origin to seek to plunder the natural resources of the African continent through destabilization.
“As a part of our regeneration, African intellectuals and academics were mobilized to help shape and develop a new understanding, thinking and direction about the African continent. In the main, the disintegration of the ideological centers that had been constructed during the Cold War and the subsequent coalescing of new forces to define new trends in the international system created the space for the construction of a new security architecture for the world based on new thinking. Thus, the state is apt that the future is ‘up for grabs.'”
When the ANC speaks about outlawing white mercenaries and the future being “up for grabs,” what it really means is using them to fight against the ANC’s enemies (UNITA) and stopping the mercenaries from helping those the ANC detests (for example, those who seek to depose the left-wing dictator of Equatorial Guinea).
Also, when the ANC elite uses the new South African National Defense Force and black mercenaries from the dictatorial regime in Zimbabwe in order to plunder the mineral wealth in war-torn Congo, or DRC, in which 2.4 million have died since 1994 without the slightest hint of Western coverage, that also falls under the radar of the ANC and Sisulu.
A changing paradigm
During its early years, the Clinton administration officially frowned on mercenaries, soldiers serving for pay in foreign armies or at the behest of private firms. The U.N. passed formal legislation outlawing groups like Executive Outcomes.
Yet white-led mercenary armies, like EO and its UK-based sister Sandline, comprised of mostly elite South African apartheid-era special forces and British ex-SAS, have proven unbeatable in wars in Angola and Sierra Leone. As mentioned, the ANC used the apartheid-era special forces to destroy their old anti-Marxist enemy UNITA in Angola in the early 1990s.
Fighting in Angola in 1993, a small cadre of 30 to 50 white EO mercenaries defeated a well-dug-in UNITA force of 500, backed by Moroccan special forces at the important and strategic oil city of Soyo. Those mercenaries would fight and win the war in Angola “in only 15 months, this after the entire South African Defense Force could not win it outright over the course of 15 years,” Luther Eeben Barlow, founder of EO, told WorldNetDaily.
Emboldened by the early success of EO’s all white mercenary army at Soyo, Joachim David, the head of SONONGOL, Angola’s state oil company (which fueled and continues to fuel the pro-Russian and pro-Cuban Marxist MPLA/FAA regime in that nation) asked Executive Outcomes to bring the entire 32 Battalion, (South Africa’s storied “Foreign Legion”) to Angola, along with their entire families, in an effort to fight against UNITA. This would be akin to elite special forces operators in Delta Force, Navy SEALS and Army Rangers, along with their wives and children, moving to Iraq to defend the regime of Saddam Hussein in January of 2003.
Into Papua New Guinea
While the white mercenaries were successful in Angola and Sierra Leone, forever altering the history of those nations, there were two instances where the tail could not wag the dog.
While it may seem that EO acted with impunity through most of its history, there were major exceptions to the rule.
The first of these exceptions came when Sandline (comprised in this case of almost all South African mercenaries) was lulled into a fateful journey into the jungles of the South Pacific in the late ’90s.
It was here that Sandline and EO received their first black eye. This operation was not led by Luther Eeben Barlow or Bert Sachse, two of the major players in the South African mercenary game. Instead, this fiasco was led by one Tim Spicer.
Spicer is a British citizen in his 50s and an ex-British army officer. He joined the 21 SAS (the reservist unit of the SAS) in the 1970s. A former “Sword of Honor” winner for “Best Cadet” at Sandhurst, Spicer served in the Scots Guards and later under Peter de la Billiere, the director of the U.K. Special Forces.
In 1992, De la Billiere would go on to sell the SAS’s training skills to friendly Gulf states in the Middle East and organized operations to collect political, military and economic intelligence, as well as to recruit agents and informants in that region of the world. De la Billiere’s new title for this post was “Middle East adviser” to the British government. (In this role one might liken him to George Hogarth, the pre-World War I mentor of the famed Lawrence of Arabia.)
Spicer arrived in Papua, New Guinea, or PNG, with U.S. $400,000 in cash. How he travelled through customs with that much money on hand remains a mystery. He had no idea he would be arrested, handcuffed, put in prison and disgraced in PNG. At one moment during his interrogation, he feared that he would be summarily executed.
How could this have happened to the man who is credited with inventing the lexicon of “PMCs”? Spicer went on record saying that PMCs could be used to fight against Saddam in Iraq, against the Taliban in Afghanistan, help in the wars in Sudan and to oust tyrants like Mugabe in Zimbabwe. To the pro-radical Islamic and pro-Saddam ANC elite, Spicer’s words were dung in their cornflakes.
Papua New Guinea is a tropical abode made up of 600 islands, resting just north of Australia. The site of pristine beaches and steaming river valleys, it is roughly the size of California. Home to 4 million people who speak a total of 700 different language and dialects, PNG has had a tumultuous history, having been a part of both the German and British empires and an Australian colony until 1975.
It was also home to the longest-running war in the Pacific theater since World War II. The impetus behind the war is, not surprisingly, the most ecologically unsound open-pit copper mine on earth. It is located on the island of Bougainville. Roughly the size of the state of Connecticut, Bougainville sits 500 miles northwest of Port Moresby.
The Bougainville copper mine, once the world’s largest, (two-thirds of a mile deep, 2.4 miles wide and 3.6 miles long) has been dormant since the late 1980s. When running at full capacity, it yields copper and other precious ores worth U.S. $500 million per year.
Australian mining concerns and other foreign shareholders took 80 percent of those profits, while the PNG government took the other 20 percent. The locals were left with nothing – save for gross environmental pollution.
Unhappy with that arrangement, the local villagers, armed only with bows and arrows, do-it-yourself guns and stolen dynamite, some of it sweating pure nitroglycerin, launched a rebellion.
The indiscriminate killing forced the closure of the mine and took away half of PNG’s export earnings.
Unable to crush the low-intensity warfare waged by the rebels with his own army, then-PNG leader Sir Julius Chan sought out the mercenary option.
Leading the Sandline charge into PNG was Spicer, the 20-year vet who had served with distinction in the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and also as a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.
Mysteriously, at this time EO was denying any connection whatsoever with Sandline. On EO’s own Internet homepage at that time it declared: “EO will state for the record that it has no affiliation with a company referred to as Sandline International.” Later, EO, realizing that statement suggested a mindset bordering on derangement, admitted it had been “subcontracted as military advisers,” by Sandline. Again, in reality there was no point where EO-Pretoria, EO-London and Sandline began or ended. They were all merely pieces of the same jigsaw puzzle, which neatly fits into the mercenary level at the top of the pyramid – Plaza 107 in the UK.
Sandline’s South African mercenaries were commissioned with three main objectives:
First, to retrain and lead the PNG special forces. Second, destroy the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. And thirdly, to rescue five PNG government soldiers taken captive by the rebels in 1996.
The wheels quickly went into motion as EO/Sandline set up base camp at Urimo, a 15,000-acre government cattle station located 35 kilometers from Wewak, in northwest PNG.
Seventy South African mercenaries arrived, ferried in on helicopter gunships leased from Russian friends in the Stalinist nation of Belarus.
Paying great attention to detail, Sandline wrote letters to two Australian hospitals in Cairns and Townsville asking for details on the treatment of critically ill patients (i.e. wounded mercenaries.)
While the wheels where in motion, there were still palms to be greased like some squeaky axle. The U.S. $36 million fee to be paid to Sandline (which also negotiated a joint-venture stake in the copper mine) had to be raised somehow by the cash-strapped PNG government.
PNG’s foreign and defense ministers were dispatched on a secret mission to Hong Kong, where they negotiated, through a third party thought to be Hong Kong broker Jardine Fleming, a buyout of RTZ-CRA’s 53.6 percent majority share holding in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).
RTZ-CRA is a UK-based company with interests in the former countries of the British Empire. These days, the PC way to refer to the Empire is the “British Commonwealth.” The Commonwealth is a major player on the world stage. India alone comprises 1 billion members. Around one-quarter of the world’s nations belong to the Commonwealth. Many others are seeking to join, including Cambodia and even the PLO.
Jardine Fleming has subsequently denied any involvement in the transaction. However, airline records of Air Niugini confirm the ministers’ junket to Hong Kong in search of a broker for the mining deal, regardless.
BCL was in play. Suddenly and quite predictably, the share price for BCL, which had languished at 40 cents Australian per share for as long as anyone could remember, jumped to 62 cents on St. Valentine’s Day 1997. (This writer was in Australia tracking this story at that time.) Over 643,200 shares traded hands in two days, shocking the company’s stockholders.
At the time of the Hong Kong junket, the PNG government held a 19 percent share of BCL. Why the rush to raise funds? Was it to recoup the outlay of the U.S. $20 million deposit which had been pre-paid to Sandline?
A second “top secret” Sandline payment plan was then ordered by the PNG leadership. This plan saw the skimming off of U.S. $30 million from receipts of a recent stock offering of Orogen Minerals, an Australian corporation that is the holding company for the PNG government’s lucrative resource projects. The proceeds were deposited in a dormant trust account called Roadco.
Roadco was linked with a shadowy entity known only as the North Fly Highway Development Company. This was by all accounts a slush fund of some kind that had been defunct since March of the year 1996. The money needed to pay Sandline was structured in this manner so as to avoid the loan collectors and accountants from the World Bank – which had in generous fashion just released U.S. $25 million to PNG as part of an international loan-restructuring plan.
It was on the heels of this paper trail that the whole scenario began to unravel.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard stated that the hiring of the mercenaries “could cause long-term damage to PNG’s international standing.”
The worst news of all came from the Queensland minister for health, Mike Horan. In addressing Sandline’s request for medical assistance, Horan wrote back to Sandline saying, “Any soldiers would have to get immigration clearance from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.”
Even the Americans railed against the Sandline/EO operation. New Zealand was not thrilled either, yet it furnished a visa for WorldNetDaily to trace this story in that nation as well.
During preparations for the mercenary operation, an Australian Air Force jet intercepted and impounded an Antonov freighter loaded with weapons and helicopters destined for Sandline troops.
Harsh words soon begat harsher deeds. Outraged at the thought of his soldiers fighting and dying for Sandline and EO’s mineral rights, among other reasons like greed and petty jealousy about the fees going to the foreign and “neo-colonial” mercenaries, PNG Brig. Gen. Jerry Singirok led a military revolt against the Chan government. Civilians rioted, and the Sandline and EO mercenaries were unceremoniously arrested and finally deported (not before Spicer was taken to task, however).
The PNG ministers who brokered the deal were forced to resign. Amid the fallout of the PNG government’s inquiry into “the Sandline scandal,” Chan was sent packing in ensuing elections.
According to an analyst at Merrill Lynch Securities, Orogen’s stock, which had reached a high of U.S. $4.50 per share, plummeted to $2.95.
As for how everything could have gone so badly so quickly, one Australian SAS soldier told WorldNetDaily, “Sandline and EO stepped on some big toes. Either some competing corporation didn’t want that copper mine reopened, or the World Bank wanted their loan money back.”
Aided by New Zealand Foreign Minister Don McKinnon’s peace initiative, the PNG government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army kissed and made up. The truce was signed at the Hurnham military base outside of Christ Church on Jan. 23, 1998. The five PNG soldiers held by the rebels were released as a measure of goodwill.
Not unlike overzealous children caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Sandline/EO was severely chastened and its proud soldiers humiliated in PNG. It was almost as though the mercenaries had forgotten their place in the hierarchy of the corporate pyramid.
Undaunted, Spicer hired Sara Pearson of Spa Way, a UK-based public-relations guru, to help reform his (and the mercenaries’) image. Soon Spicer, with the help of a ghostwriter and Spa Way would publish his own book, “An Unorthodox Soldier” in 1999. Thanks to the efforts of Spicer, the term “private military company” may eventually find its way into Webster’s and Black’s Law Dictionary.
The end of South Africa’s farm killings … for a time
The second exception to the mercenaries acting with impunity came when EO tried to stop the South African farm killings in the tiny town or Rhodes. It was there, on the border of Lesotho, that the ex-South African SADF special forces soldier and Executive Outcomes operator Pine Pinaar put a stop to all of the farm chaos in the town without firing a single shot. (Another EO commander named Pine Pinaar was executed in Sierra Leone by one of his own troops. This is not the same Pine Pinaar who operated in Rhodes on behalf of the white farming community.)
Pinaar and one other soldier – a black man named Antonio Pessos – took operational and security control of 1,500 square kilometers without firing a single round of ammunition. They did this simply by fixing the holes in the fence bordering Lesotho, requiring all migrant day workers to pass through the official border checkpoint, and by setting up an intelligence-gathering network offering cash in exchange for information – this is how many police forces around the world operate. No “paramilitary tactics” to make anyone tremble. No former Civil Cooperation Bureau or “CCB” networks were used. (The CCB was a shadowy offshoot of the old SADF and carried out more than 200 assassinations of ANC anti-apartheid cadres worldwide.) Not a single cow or sheep was stolen after EO was deployed in Rhodes. No farmer was attacked or hurt. Finally, the peaceful days of South Africa’s past had returned even while the Rhodes pro-ANC police force had been dismantled and pulled out.
Emboldened by the success in Rhodes, EO said they could stop all of the farm crime in South Africa with only 2,000 mercenaries deployed in the field. The ANC would not hear of it. Instead, ANC spokesman Dr. Rocky Williams published a two-part series in the Pretoria News in May 2003 saying that the old Boer Commando would be restructured and staffed with former MK, pro-ANC Marxist cadres and would be modeled “on the self-defense militias of the old Soviet Union during World War II.”
The ANC elites are known to refer to each other as “comrade” and still use Marxist-Leninist and Stalinist jargon in relation to their cultural, economic and military plans better known as “social justice and reform.”
Meanwhile, much of the old Commando structure was privatized into various security companies by quick-thinking Afrikaner farmers.
According to Marge Leitner, a South African political observer heavily involved with the farmers, “… many of the Boer Commandos have registered as security companies, which I thought was a brilliant chess move. What is also happening is that many of the Boer Commandos are getting very heavily involved in training up the farmers in personal safety, basic self-defense, also for the women, and training in spotting whether your farm is going to be attacked. There are various ‘signals’ to watch out for, and when identified, the farmers and their wives and in fact the whole family is trained in defending their farm and their lives.
“There was a program on “Carte Blanche” [South Africa’s version of “60 Minutes”] recently, and it was gratifying to see how dedicated and committed the farmers are. There is no question of them leaving … not at this stage anyway. However, the political pressure is increasing. The South African Communist Party launched its Red October campaign, the focus of which is on fast-tracking the land redistribution campaign. It is quite obvious that the rabble The Landless People Movement is putting pressure on the SACP; that is why the SACP is so outspoken about it. The ANC government is scared of its own masses, I guarantee you. This is something they will be unable to control, should the proverbial s— hit the fan! It is their biggest fear. The youth and the rabble. These two sectors of the population are of course the most supportive of the likes of Mugabe.”
While mercenaries may have always been misunderstood, the question begs: “Will HIV/AIDS, the rise of child soldiers and the legalization of mercenary armies require elite, white special forces to play primary roles in the future of African soldiering?”
In the early 1990s, the CIA concluded that AIDS would become a significant factor in causing upheaval in Africa’s armies, with corresponding political effects. The CIA coined the phrase “state decay” due to the epidemic. AIDS is currently ravaging the military capability of many armies in Africa, including South Africa. In Zimbabwe, between 60 and 80 percent of the police and army are believed to be HIV-positive. In South Africa, some black units have a 90 percent HIV infection rate.
The judiciary, police and armies in many African nations will most likely be ravaged by AIDS in coming years. In Botswana, over 30 percent of the population at large is HIV/AIDS-positive – this because Botswana is a major trucking center in Southern Africa, and the drivers spread the disease as they travel and engage in sexual activities.
In Cape Town, the leading cause of death by 2009 will be AIDS, and the average life expectancy of a Cape Town resident will be 40, down from 55 only a decade ago under the apartheid regime.
Radhika Sarin of the World Watch institute says that 40 percent of soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Angola are HIV/AIDS-positive. The United States National Intelligence Council says that between 10 and 60 percent of all soldiers in all African countries may carry the virus.
Bert Sachse told WorldNetDaily: “You just can’t have HIV/AIDS in your army. There’s too much blood, sweat and tears.”
South Africa’s own army, once the best-trained and equipped on the entire continent, has reached unprecedented state of decay due to AIDS, the ANC’s retrenchment of the elite, white special forces and pilots, as well as outlandish procurements that were beset with kickbacks and government corruption within the ANC.
Because of HIV/AIDS most of black Africa has a huge demographic age gap. Many leaders are in their 70s and 80s, while 50 percent of the general population in Sub-Saharan Africa is under the age of 15. This does not bode well for the future of a continent rich in strategic resources.
Recently, the U.S. sent its own special forces to Timbuktu, Mali, to train that nation’s army to safeguard geologic resources that might be used by Middle Eastern terrorists to make a nuclear or radioactive bomb.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has Africa’s only demographically representative leader, Joseph Kabila (whose Marxist-oriented father was installed to power by the Clinton regime yet was soon after assassinated). In the DRC, former President Clinton’s Arkansas mining buddies, the North Koreans and Mugabe’s henchmen had all been trying to cash in on the mining bonanza of the mid to late 1990s. The CIA quickly moved to check North Korea’s interest in the DRC and its representatives from Pyongyang were deported.
In nations like Liberia and Ivory Coast, one finds teen and even child militias hiring themselves out as private, mercenary armies. Needless to say, the transnational elite of the Northern Hemisphere are more than a little nervous about the idea of the militias of the future sitting on and controlling vast uranium stockpiles in nations like Niger and the DRC.
What makes a child soldier want to fight?
According to Rachel Kruger, the nom de plume of a writer and researcher at a prominent South African think tank, “Child soldiers are not merely victims – as in the case of Sierra Leone. They are, among other things, indeed ‘victims,’ but rather they are actors who are deeply involved with the political process. They are fighting wars, dealing in diamonds and fighting on one side or the other for the future of their nations. Children make political decisions. The RUF started in Freetown as a student movement.
“Recruiting child soldiers does not involve any difficult ideology. It does not involve anything deeper than you would find in a school curriculum. You have incentives and compliance. The government only needs to offer incentives to youth that appeal to their developmental constraints – let’s say shoes and food, for example. One doesn’t need smooth political agendas and a clever manner of speaking. One only needs to offer young people incentives to make up for what is missing in their lives.”
Continued Kruger: “In a militia, the emotional needs which a young person may have will be met. Then there are the issues of identity and social motives. In a militia, the child soldier has already become a part of political agendas. In regard to child soldiers, it’s all about accountability. It’s as easy for the government to plunder children to be soldiers as it is for them to plunder oil and diamonds.”
In speaking about the demobilization of child soldiers in Sierra Leone, Kruger said, “In regard to this issue, people usually share the same values. Children, because of humanitarian reasons, should be protected, and there are psycho-social programs surrounding this issue.
“In the RUF (the revolutionary army in Sierra Leone), of 6,000 soldiers, 2,000 were child soldiers. After the demobilization of the RUF (in 1999 they were disciplined by the West after they were told they could become a political party and then went ahead and launched another attack), you had teen mercenaries fighting in Ivory Coast and Liberia. One might see child soldiers as laborers in a war economy. The child soldiers are not just surviving. They are not just sitting back. Think in terms of human potential. They often act in their own self-interest.”
Asked if American television could handle the truth about the tragedy in Sierra Leone, Kruger was driven to extremes. She told WorldNetDaily: “Jerry Springer doesn’t want the RUF on his show. He wants people who are far more dangerous – the trailer-park trash of America. Where do they find these people? Perhaps from a special breeding colony with a limited gene pool.”
She continued: “Be it gangs in Los Angeles or the RUF, what do you have? In the Congo there is basically no difference between the Crips and the Bloods in L.A. The kids in the RUF love Tupac (the late rap artist who died in a shooting). In the jungle, the RUF would show “Rambo” movies to the children. They were not shown as military training videos, but to pump them up for fighting. Generators were brought in and the movies were shown. This is their exposure to modernity. This is the product of American culture, which I wish personally that the Americans would keep to themselves.”
Army of the future
Adriana Stuijt, a Dutch journalist and former anti-apartheid activist told WorldNetDaily: “This kind of private army will indeed become the army of the future – in fact isn’t it already here? This can already be seen in the way privately paid professional armies are beginning to run things in Angola, the Congo and Ivory Coast and any other place where their help is needed to tear valuable minerals from the earth at increasing risk to the big conglomerates.
“These aren’t fly-by-night mercenaries. That is for certain! And why shouldn’t professional soldiers be paid what they are really worth? Instead of sending young inexperienced men straight into a mindless death, these soldiers are trained and prepared for the job at hand – which is kill or be killed.”
Meanwhile, Kruger lamented, “Ethnic, ideological, social, cultural, the generation gap and genocide are all issues that affect life in Africa. Simply put – Africa cannot absorb justice.”
Don’t’ miss Monday’s installment of LoBaido’s report, which tells the fascinating story of how a small mercenary army can turn the tide of an African war.
Read LoBaido’s column about his new Christian adventure novel, “Our Name is Legion.”