WorldNetDaily is running a peculiarly sympathetic series on "white mercenaries in black Africa" by Anthony C. LoBaido, author of the self-published Christian fantasy Our Name is Legion which the author says "takes up where the popular 'Left Behind' series left off."
The first two parts of the series begin with a flattering introduction to LoBaido's protagonist:
The Part 1 begins:
"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.
And here's the opening to Part 2:
When it comes to mercenaries, it could be fairly said that South African Bert Sachse is "the real thing." Sachse is an elite special forces soldier who can handle everything from logistics to intelligence gathering to diplomacy, air-to-ground special forces tactics and even the close up "hard killings."
A charming and wiry man with bright eyes, this writer remarked upon meeting him: "I "had been expecting Arnold Schwarzenegger."
Sachse simply smiled and flexed as though in a bodybuilding pageant. Clearly, being a special forces soldier involved far more than muscles.
Sachse's story is a long and amazing road that sheds a great deal of light on the exploits and motivations of the modern mercenary.
There are certain literary tropes I begin to recognize in non-fiction favorable to mercenaries, and among them are comments about how charming these fellows are and what amazing lives they've lead, as though they were movie stars. (When stuff like that is published or broadcast, I sometimes get notes from impressionable young men asking how they can join up.) Judging from his earlier stories, LoBaido has been a mercenary groupie for a while.
I'm almost tempted to read his novel to see what role mercenaries play in the rightwing Christian imagination. His novel was published by 1stBooks Library, now known as AuthorHouse, "the leading self-publishing company in the world." (For a full discussion of this kind of publisher, I direct you to the fine archives of Teresa Nielsen Hayden's Making Light. See, for example, her most recent post in her popular series on self-publishing and the self-published: Motivation and doubt.) There are many good reasons to self-publish-- surely on a self-published blog I would not condemn self-publishing. Judging from the excerpts of his books available online from his publisher, were these books commercially published, Dave Langford would find much to appreciate in them for the Thog's Master Class column: He dove headlong into Lake Baykal, the deepest fresh water lake in the world, reaching a depth of some sixteen hundred meters. My, what long arms!
I note from checking out his publisher's web site that he has has three books out from 1st Place Libarary. The first is The Third Boer War:
American journalist Trooper Grace is recruited into the shadowy Boer Republican Army, South Africa’s extreme right-wing paramilitary organization, to assassinate the RSA’s newest president–the man they claim to be the "Antichrist"–who will soon rise to the position of global Fuhrer with the blessing of the United Nations.
The second is Our Name is Legion:
Petra England is no ordinary British tourist. In fact, the pristine southern islands of Thailand have never seen the likes of this British Intelligence MI-6 agent before. When Petra’s grandfather Lord Wellington is assassinated in Burma while trying to help the persecuted hill tribes of Southeast Asia, she is stripped of her intelligence access, protection and even her vast fortune. Petra then journeys to the island paradise of Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand, where she meets Jean-Claude, a handsome and mysterious soldier, who has gone AWOL from the French Foreign Legion. Jean-Claude is harboring a terrible secret – a secret generated by the CIA's supposedly defunct MK-Ultra program. But MK-Ultra continues and is directed by Legion, the powerful demon mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. The same demon Christ was forced to confront. Jean-Claude’s secret will send Petra on her most dangerous mission yet, into the Killing Fields of Cambodia, where the hell unleashed only a generation ago is merely an appetizer for Legion’s plans for all of mankind in the near future.
Our Name is Legion is a novel for everyone who ever felt alone, abandoned, betrayed and helpless, only to realize that the Lord was about to grant them an incredible victory they could never have imagined.
His third book is his autobiography.
I presume WoldNetDaily cleans up LoBaido's prose when they publish his articles, though perhaps not quite as well as they should. (Recall the line, A charming and wiry man with bright eyes, this writer remarked upon meeting him: "I "had been expecting Arnold Schwarzenegger.")
Part 3 of the series invokes one of the standard tropes of the white makes right argument: cannibalism. Sachse is back to tell it like it is:
"There is a lot of cannibalism in Sierra Leone," said Bert Sachse, a 34-year veteran of the South African special forces and commander of the mercenary war during the mid-1990s in the troubled West African nation.
"If you capture the enemy, you want to interrogate them. For the Sierra Leone army, they wanted to eat the heart and or other vital organs of their enemies. We would have to fly out the prisoners we wanted to interrogate on the helicopters back to Freetown so they wouldn't be eaten. The MI-17 would fly over and the Sierra Leone soldiers would look up and say, 'There goes dinner.' They would look upset. In certain parts of Sierra Leone cannibalism is rife."
This is not to say that LoBaido's articles aren't full of facts. He often includes them even when they get in the way of his argument. Consider the second paragraph in this passage:
Sandline/EO became a political wrangle in the UK as previously mentioned, and this problem festered throughout the operation in Sierra Leone. The whole issue of legalizing PMCs probably got a good boost from the whole affair. After all, who is against stopping limb-hacking rebels?
Consider that in 2000, British troops returned to Sierra Leone after United Nations troops were overrun by the same RUF troops Sandline/EO had only recently vanquished. The British army retook the country again, and some 45,000 rebels were disarmed. It was like a cul-de-sac of sorts. Rebels attack. Mercenaries sort them. Mercenaries leave. Rebels take the country again. British army comes in to the former colony and disarms rebels. Rebels capture soldiers. SAS comes in and sorts rebels. There was a certain rhythm to it all, an ebb and flow. Yes, a cul-de-sac of violence. As Plato said, "Only the dead are the end of war."
Says Sachse, "People could see a private military company operating in a theater could be a good thing and beneficial, and be sanctioned by the government. There is the question of why the idea did not catch on. If you use PMCs, you don't need to send in British troops. If the troops are killed, the families are naturally very upset. The government sending in troops could lose votes and support in operations the citizens were not in support of."
Interestingly, in a parenthetical remark, he notes, "(In fact, many of those mercenaries were black Africans.)", though only in the second-to-last paragraph of the third part of three. I was wondering when he'd mention that. He concludes the series with the line "It is hoped this report will help to bring out more of the truth about the embattled history of Sierra Leone."
I am left with many questions, mostly about LoBaido's audience. Does he have an audience? Do they, too, connect mercenaries with Christian fantasies about Africa? Are mercenaries in any way central to fundamentalist Christian thought about how the world ought to be run, or is this LoBaido's own obsession?