Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

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Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby RYP » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:03 pm ... rs-manual/

Ya gotta love: Please contact me privately if you are interested in initiating a coup d’ etat and wish to consult me for details."


The University of Westminster

Regent Campus

School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages

Assisted Regime Change: A Bright Future Ahead?

By Justin Quentin Ames

September 7th, 2009

London, England

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in International Relations

Abstract for Assisted Regime Change: A Bright Future Ahead?

This paper explores the world of the coup d’ etat, with a focus on Africa and the involvement of outside actors in particular. As such, after introducing this topic, I take the reader on a brief journey through a number of the terms used in this paper as well as those seen so frequently in the press, in public and in academia about coups. These various terms are addressed and clarified (or at least I hope they are) in order to explain the difference between, say, a putsch versus a guardian coup versus a pronunciamento versus a revolt.

I then delve into the implications that the understandably secretive, and sometimes violent, world of coups has for various international relations theoretical constructs. With the law of the gun being all that ultimately matters when it comes to political power in many countries that frequently experience coups, I argue that, in this world, Realism is far from an outdated theory. A discussion on the ethics of intervention follows this brief analysis of theoretical constructs: When is intervention justified? And how is intervention justified? How do you determine what is right and wrong? I also assess evidence that conditions are so grim in countries such as Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or Burma/Myanmar that if we in the West do not support efforts at regime change in such countries, that we should at least stand aside and let others (whether these “others” be in the form of a government or private players) take action if we are unwilling to do so.

The reader is then introduced to some of the contemporary history of coups and their supporters, across the African continent, via a series of case studies – one as recent as 2004. The reader will be able to see that significant coup attempts, initiated by outside actors, are downright commonplace rather than being an unusual or isolated affair. Review and analysis is incorporated into each of my case studies as well.

After presenting evidence of how acutely involved in various conflicts across Africa that mercenaries are today, I will explain why this, coupled with present conditions in the private security industry, may actually lead to an increase in coup activity around the world. As such, I hope I will have left the reader convinced, as I am, that the coup d’ etat is far from a thing of the past, but, rather, what may become (and probably should be) an essential tool in the toolkit of policy-makers and that the mercenary/private security contractor phenomenon is here to stay with us (if it ever even left at all). Last in this section, I provide informed speculation on potential trends and patterns in the world of coups and also that of mercenaries and argue that these two worlds will become increasingly interrelated and dependent.

Before the conclusion, I seek to make my final point by taking the reader on a step-by-step walk through what a hypothetical coup might look like in its planning and execution. Following this, the reader will, hopefully, be left with a better understanding of why the coup is the most frequently utilized means of changing government.

The Research

The research for this paper was obtained primarily from books on the subject, newspapers, magazines as well as academic writings. However, I must highlight two sections that involved the methods outlined above, but also additional sources:

The research in relation to the case studies involves matters that many would prefer to be forgotten. As such, there can be shockingly little concrete information on some of these episodes. So, I dug deep into old newspaper archives and worked to track down some of those actually involved in these coups and coup attempts to put together an accurate picture of what took place. Although anonymity was demanded by all the coup participants I contacted, a number of crucial (or just interesting) details were filled in through interviews and correspondence with these individuals.

Lastly, the research for my hypothetical coup came from (aside from the traditional sources mentioned earlier) my own firsthand experiences, interviews with the individuals mentioned above, but also from utilizing various contacts in government and the military. Understandably, these individuals also requested anonymity as this is a sensitive subject and those I contacted are all still employed in government or military service. This is the price to pay for up to date information.

Assisted Regime Change: A Bright Future Ahead?

In submitting this assignment, I confirm that: I understand that the piece of work submitted will be considered as the final and complete version of this assignment. The work that I have submitted is entirely my own and I have not knowingly allowed another author to copy my work. I am familiar with the definitions of plagiarism, collusion and cheating set out in Section 10 of the University’s Academic Regulations; I understand both the meaning and consequences of plagiarism and confirm that any work from other authors is duly referenced and acknowledged.

I confirm that the below-submitted dissertation is my own work and that all references/sources are duly acknowledged.

Signature:______Justin Ames__________


Table of Contents

1. Title Page – Assisted Regime Change: A Bright Future Ahead?

2. Abstract

2.1 The Research

3. Table of Contents

4. Introduction

5. The Coup d’ Etat

5.1 Coup d’état – Types of coups

5.2 Breakthrough Coups

5.3 Guardian Coups

5.4 Veto Coups

5.5 The Bloodless Coup

5.6 The Self-Coup

5.7 The Putsch

5.8 The Pronunciamento

5.9 The Un-Coup

5.10 The Fake Coup

5.11 Revolution and Revolt

6. Theoretical Frameworks: A Validation of Realism?

6.1 The Ethics of Intervention

7. The Outside Actors: When Mercenaries and Coups Intersect

7.1 A Review of Past Events: Case Studies

7.2 The Forsyth Coup

7.3 The Wonga Coup

7.4 Bob Denard and the Comoros Islands

7.5 Ghana and the Nobistor Affair

8. The Situation Today

9. The Future: How it might look

10. The Coup of the Future?

11. Conclusion

12. Bibliography


Assisted Regime Change: A Bright Future Ahead?


On March 7, 2004, 67 rough-looking men were detained on a Boeing 727 outside Harare, Zimbabwe. They had been picking up a shipment of arms that included 20 machine guns, 61 AK-47 assault rifles, 150 hand grenades, 10 rocket-propelled grenade launchers (and 100 RPG shells), and 75,000 rounds of ammunition from Zimbabwe Defense Industries. (Roberts, 2009) The intended target for all of that firepower was the regime of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, a country whose lack of global recognition is uncorrelated to its strategic significance. And by “strategic”, I am referring to oil, as the derelict former Spanish colony is now the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa.

President Obiang is a confirmed, if not convicted, corrupt tyrant whom Amnesty International has accused of murder, torture and locking up dissidents. President Obiang’s name might ring a bell for some readers given the frequency with which his and his family’s name appeared in the international press in 2004 in connection with the money-laundering scandal at Washington D.C.-based Riggs Banks that brought about the collapse of that venerable institution in 2005. (O’Brien, 2004)

The men on the airplane were not on a mission of charity though to liberate the long-suffering citizens of Equatorial Guinea from the despotic rule of President Obiang – these men were mercenaries planning to carry out a coup d’ etat that would make them and the coup plotters fabulously wealthy. Tagged “the Wonga Coup” (a slang term for a wad of money) by the news media, after one of the architects of the coup used the phrase in a letter, the plot conjured up images of swashbuckling dogs of war and international intrigue. The author of the letter that gave us the “Wonga” name and the commander of the men on the Boeing 727 was Simon Mann, son of a wealthy and prominent English family, ex-Etonian and SAS soldier and one of the founders of the private military company, Executive Outcomes. But he was far from the only prominent figure to be swept up in the affair, as others involved included the son of former British Prime Margaret Thatcher, Lord Jeffrey Archer and Lebanese billionaire Ely Calil.

What was unique about this event was not the tactics or the location (Africa has seen many coups), but the goal: simply, profit and lots of it. It’s one thing to hijack an armored truck or even a train for money, but hijacking an entire country puts one in an entirely different category.

Could they have succeeded? And could it happen again? I will argue that, yes, the Wonga Coup could have succeeded and such an event probably will happen again. In fact, as I will explain below, I think it is more likely to happen now given geopolitical events of this past decade.

In reality, coups are far more commonplace than many people recognize or appreciate, particularly in the developing world. Bolivia, for example, has had over 200 coups in its brief existence (CBC, 2005). As the focus of this paper is on Africa, consider the following incumbent African leaders who assumed power via a coup d’état starting with the subject of my introduction, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, who assumed power on August 3rd, 1979. But there is also Leader and Guide of the Revolution Muammar al-Gaddafi, who assumed control of Libya on the 1st of September 1969, President Blaise Compaoré who took over Burkina Faso on the 15th of October 1987, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who seized control of Tunisia on the 7th of November 1987, President Omar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir who took power of Sudan on the 30th of June 1989, President Yahya Jammeh who assumed control of The Gambia on the 22nd of July 1994, President François Bozizé who gained control of Central African Republic on the 15th of March 2003, President of the High Council of State Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz who took over Mauritania on the 6th of August 2008, President of the National Council for Democracy and Development Moussa Dadis Camara who took control of Guinea on the 24th of December 2008 and President of the High Transitional Authority Andry Rajoelina who assumed power in Madagascar on the 17th of March 2009. (CIA, 2009) The above list only comprises successful coups as the coup leaders are still in power. There have been many, many other coups and coup attempts across the world such as the coup attempt mentioned in the introduction. So, in no way should the above list be considered all-encompassing. It is not. It is just a suggestion of the level of a political activity many seem to consider a relic of the past.

The Coup d’ Etat

But before proceeding, I must explain what exactly I mean when using the phrase “coup d’état.” Edward Luttwak, in his seminal publication, Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook, defines a coup as follows: “A coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.” This has been widely accepted as THE definition of a coup, and who am I to disagree with what works? However, I would just point out that while Luttwack doesn’t explicitly state this, the method utilized to gain control is illegal and revolves around violence, or at least the threat of violence. So, with that consideration noted, I will proceed with this working definition of Luttwak’s. In addition, it is necessary to describe in more detail the various types of coups and what constitutes a coup or not.

Coup d’état – Types of coups

The late Harvard University political theorist Samuel Huntington, in his book, Political Order in Changing Societies, loosely identified three types of coups. These were as follows: breakthrough coups, guardian coups and veto coups. This categorization has not been challenged since (although it has been discussed and clarified) and I won’t step out of line by doing so either. However, I will attempt to explain and define some other terms following my discussion of Huntington’s categories.

These were:

Breakthrough Coups – In breakthrough coups a traditional elite is overthrown by the military, and a radical or “progressive” regime is established around social reform, curing backwardness and stamping out corruption. (David, 1986) An entirely new bureaucratic elite is created in the new government. Breakthrough coups are generally led by non-commissioned officers or junior officers which also makes the coup a mutiny, a fact which can have serious implications for the organizational structure of the military. Examples of breakthrough coups I have seen cited include China in 1911, Bulgaria in 1944, Egypt in 1952, Greece in 1967, Libya in 1969 and Liberia in 1980. I will explain below how a revolution or revolt is emphatically not a coup d’ etat and does not fall into the above category.

Guardian Coups – The guardian coup is often described as the “musical chairs” coup because all of the existing structures of power remain intact. All that changes are the players involved. Stated objectives of this form of coup are usually to improve public order and efficiency or to end corruption. The leaders of these types of coups normally portray their actions as a temporary and unfortunate necessity. (David, 1986) Examples of guardian coups I have seen cited include Pakistan, Turkey, Argentina and Thailand. Nations with guardian coups can frequently shift back and forth between civilian and military governments. If a coup is to be a “bloodless coup” (more on that below) it will usually arise from the guardian coup d’état category. The type of coup I am emphasizing in this paper falls under the guardian coup category.

Veto Coups – A veto coup comes about when the military moves to protect the existing order from mass public participation and social mobilization. A veto coup can also take place when the government in power begins to advocate radical policies or starts to appeal to groups whom the military does not wish to see gain power. (Huntington, 1968) As such, these tend to be the messiest coups and they often involve significant repression and bloodshed as the large-scale and broad-based opposition is brought into line with the new order. Examples I have seen cited of veto coups include Chile in 1973 and Argentina in 1976, as well as the overthrow of President Fujimori of Peru in 2000. An abortive and botched veto coup occurred in Venezuela in 2002 against Hugo Chavez. The 20 July 1944 plot by parts of the German military to overthrow the elected Nazi government of Adolf Hitler in Germany is an example of a failed veto coup d’état.

Although most academic thought revolves around the three coup types mentioned above, there are a few other relevant terms that it would be negligent of me not to touch on as well:

The Bloodless Coup

The bloodless coup occurs when the mere threat of violence is enough to force the current government to step aside without the need for bloodshed or violence. As alluded to above, it is most often the guardian coup that falls into the “bloodless” category, but occasionally the breakthrough coup can be a bloodless one as well. Pervez Musharraf’s seizure of power in Pakistan in 1999 is often cited as a good example of a bloodless coup.

The Self-Coup

The self-coup is used to describe a situation where the existing government (usually assisted by the military) assumes powers not allowed by existing legislation or the constitution. This would fall under the guardian coup category, but the term needed to be defined. Frequently cited examples of the self coup include President, then Emperor, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, who acted against the powerful National Assembly; Alberto Fujimori in Peru, who was democratically elected, but later took control of the legislative and judicial powers; or King Gyanendra’s assumption of “emergency powers” in Nepal.

The Putsch

The putsch takes its name from the Züriputsch of 1839 and most people use the terms putsch and coup d’ etat interchangeably. However, there are those who take issue with this. For example: Edward Luttwak insists that a putsch is “essentially a wartime or immediately post-war phenomenon attempted by a formal body within (emphasis mine) the military under its appointed leadership.” (Luttwak, 1979)

The Pronunciamento

Following the theme mentioned above, Edward Luttwak explains that a pronunciamento occurs when the military deposes the existing civil government and installs another civil government. This is an essentially Spanish and South American version of the coup d’ etat, but many recent African coups have also taken this form as well. The pronunciamento is organized and led by a particular army leader, but it is carried out in the name of the entire (emphasis mine) officer corps; unlike the putsch which is carried out by a faction within the army or the coup, which can be carried out by civilians using some army units. The pronunciamento leads to a takeover by the army as a whole. The pronunciamento is usually right-wing in nature as the military is generally a conservative force. (Luttwak, 1979)

The Un-Coup

The Fake Coup

The fake coup bears mentioning since it is used all too frequently as well. The nefarious fake coup takes place when an incumbent government stages a coup attempt (or even just simply states that an attempt took place) and uses this to justify a crackdown on their opponents.

Revolution and Revolt

Now, I must clarify an important point. A change in government brought about by mass protests, such as Serbia in 2000, Argentina in 2001, The Philippines in 1986 and 2001, Bolivia in 2003 and 2005, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004/2005 and Ecuador in 2005, is not technically a coup. These popular uprisings which force the incumbent leader’s resignation, so that an unknown, uncontroversial interim leader can govern until formal elections are held, are considered revolts or revolutions, not coups d’état, because they are not military actions. The term “revolution” has gained a certain popularity, and many coups are graced with it, because of the implication that it was “the people” rather than a few plotters who did the whole thing, but this is just cosmetic. (Luttwak, 1979) A successful revolution or revolt runs a risk of being met by a veto coup from the military or a counter-coup from an opportunist. A classic example of this type of occurrence would be Napoleon’s rise to power during the chaos of the French Revolution.

So, what have we learned? Reality rarely fits neatly into the tidy definitions I gave above, but there are certain broad generalizations we can make about coups. A coup d’ etat is the illegal, often violent, displacement of an incumbent government, by a small group — usually the military — in order to replace the deposed government with another, either civil or military. Typically, a coup d’état uses the extant government’s power to assume political control of the country. Thus, armed force (either military or paramilitary) or broad intervention from the masses are not a defining feature of a coup d’etat. The coup is successfully executed when the forces attacking the incumbent government consolidate their political, tactical and strategic power (usually by either capturing or expelling the politico-military leaders, and seizing physical control of the country’s key government offices, communications media, and infrastructure) and then receive the deposed government’s surrender; or the acquiescence of the populace and the non-participant military forces.

As an interesting side note, one feature of a coup is that it does not imply any particular political orientation. “Revolutions [and liberations] are usually “leftist” while the putsch and the pronunciamento are usually initiated by right-wing forces. A coup, however, is politically neutral, and there is no presumption that any particular policies will be followed after the seizure of power. It is true that many coups have been of a decidedly right-wing character but there is nothing inevitable about this.” (Luttwak, 1979)

Despite the impression that might have been given by the clinical descriptions of coups d’état above, coups are not just actions of internal players. They have often been used as a means for powerful nations to assure desirable outcomes in smaller foreign states. In particular, the American Central Intelligence Agency and Soviet KGB were quite active on this front during the Cold War period in states ranging from Iran to Afghanistan to Chile. Such actions are/were substitutes for direct military intervention which would have been too politically unpopular or simply too expensive. The governments of France and Britain have also been active in this field, although not to the extent of the former Soviet Union or the United States.

So, what makes a country ripe for a coup d’ etat? What should we look for? Stephen Hosmer of RAND Corporation in a study commissioned in 2001, along with experts David Hebditch and Ken Connor (How to Stage a Military Coup), identified the following characteristics as pre-conditions desirous in a country for a coup to take place:

* Former colony or overseas possession?
* Lies in tropical latitudes?
* Religious, ethnic and/or tribal divisions?
* Substantial natural resources, especially oil?
* Endemic corruption and nepotism?
* Strategically Located?
* Long-term despotic regime?
* Army staff officers trained overseas?
* Finance available for mercenaries?
* Had a coup d’ etat previously?

The more answers in the “yes” column, the more susceptible the country under examination is to coups or counter-coups. For the record, Equatorial Guinea hits nine checks in the “yes” column out of the ten possibilities above – the only “no” being in regard to strategic location. Some of the above might seem curious or arbitrary, such as number 2 on the list: “Lies in tropical latitudes?” Consider, however, that many countries in this geographical sphere were colonized by England, Spain, France and Portugal during the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries.

One might accuse me of picking on Africa in this paper, but I do not emphasize that continent out of any malice. It’s just that Africa so perfectly meets the many pre-conditions for a coup listed above, and African countries have a remarkable record of coup activity and plotting over the past 50 years. Consider that in Africa, between 1952 and 2000, thirty-three countries experienced 85 coups. (CIA, 2009) And then, of course, there is the list of incumbent African leaders above as well.

Theoretical Frameworks: A Validation of Realism?

Now, with the definitions and clarifications out of the way, how did we get where we are today? Shouldn’t coups and the primacy of the gun have been banished to history? Clearly, this is not the case. Has the world view of the Realists been re-invigorated and rehabilitated? Or is this a validation of the Liberal view of globalization? How can globalization and interconnectedness be discounted or ignored? Or is it not that simple? The increase in the use of mercenaries (they prefer the term private security contractors) in the fields of combat today fits the world view of both Realists and Liberals. Realists would argue that they are the natural result of a vacuum of power, and Liberals would argue that they are a natural extension of an increasingly integrated and globalized world.

However, I would argue that the mere existence of coups, let alone their frequency, is proof that Realism is far from dead. The world of coups and coup plotters is, I believe, an argument for Realism and its importance. Raw power and money are still very much relevant in today’s world. But, is Realism alone sufficient? Or, is the explanation found in an amalgamation of international relations theoretical constructs? I believe so. Reality is never so accommodating as to be able to neatly fit into a single, tidy explanation or theory. What does this mean? It means that Realist and Liberal logics will often work together in the world of coups and sometimes work against each other.

Consider a coup in Pakistan versus a coup in Guatemala. The global community could never reverse a regime change that took place in Pakistan – but multilateral coordination would have an effect on Guatemala. Indeed, the fact that Guatemala is relatively small is what makes it easy for the global community to muster some consensus on the issue. Furthermore, in contrast to larger countries, the effect of multilateral sanctions on Guatemala would be pretty significant. In Pakistan, on the other hand, conflicting strategic interests prevent any kind of great power concert that could push for domestic change. It’s also far from clear whether anything short of a complete embargo on all goods to or from Pakistan would really have an appreciable impact on the regime in Islamabad. (Walt, 2009)

So, holding everything else constant, the odds are that the coup in Guatemala would be far more likely to be reversed than the coup in Pakistan. Powerful countries get left alone while weaker, smaller countries get pushed around? That’s the very essence of Realism.

Robert Kaplan, writing for Foreign Policy magazine, argues as well for this revival, or at least reassessment, of Realism. He states that, “Realism means recognizing that international relations are ruled by a sadder, more limited reality than the one governing domestic affairs. It means valuing order above freedom, for the latter becomes important only after the former has been established. It means focusing on what divides humanity rather than on what unites it, as the high priests of globalization would have it. In short, Realism is about recognizing and embracing those forces beyond our control that constrain human action—culture, tradition, history, the bleaker tides of passion that lie just beneath the veneer of civilization. This poses what, for Realists, is the central question in foreign affairs: Who can do what to whom?” Kaplan is saying in essence that we are forced by the reality of the world we live in and by the daily headlines produced by that world to accept at least some of the tenets of Realism. I find this a difficult position to argue with.

And then there is the position of Walter Laqueur, who states in the foreword he wrote for Edward Luttwak’s, Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook, that coups “almost by definition are mortal enemies of orderly hypotheses and concepts” as “how does one account scientifically for the political ambitions of a few strategically well placed individuals?” Laqueur makes a valid point about the shortcomings of theory, but I believe the Realists would still argue that their world encompasses the world of coups, based as it is on the interplay of political power structures and their respective strengths and weaknesses.

The Ethics of Intervention

This brings me to my next theoretical point, a thorny topic with many divergent viewpoints. Some argue stridently that any outside intervention in the affairs of other countries is wrong. This is based on reasons ranging from pacifistic leanings to the theoretical Westphalian concept that foreign governments should never possess the right to intervene in another sovereign nation’s internal affairs.

It may seem awkward to write in defense of coups, but is it wrong to do so? Removing a bloodthirsty despot to advance the interests of an individual or country can be called selfish, but if the lives of everyone in the country affected improve – even if just a little – can it be unambiguously wrong? Is it not too rigid to argue that every outside intervention is bad? NATO’s intervention in the Balkans was not authorized by the UN Security Council and yet one hears frequently about the “Just War Doctrine” and how this was the right thing to do. What is the difference between a country such as Great Britain or the United States pursuing unauthorized regime change in a sovereign country (Kosovo) versus a group of individuals (Equatorial Guinea) other than the power and marketing capability of the players involved? Realism comes into play again in delineating this difference, as the explanation is the same as that for my Pakistan versus Guatemala example above.

Even the least cynical amongst us cannot possibly argue with a straight face that many so-called humanitarian interventions do not in fact contain elements of self-interest by the intervening countries (which is a fundamentally Realist position). One of the fundamental tenets of capitalism is that greed and selfishness is good. By each of us pursuing our own selfish interests, society as a whole benefits. Could the same not occasionally be said for governance as well?

Even well-respected academics, notably the development economist Paul Collier, have come out in favor of the occasional coup as a means to improve the lives of ordinary people in repressive countries. Collier, writing in The Washington Post suggests that “After Iraq, there is no international appetite for using the threat of military force to pressure thugs. But, it is only military pressure that is likely to be effective; tyrants can almost always shield themselves from economic sanctions. So there is only one credible counter to dictatorial power: the country’s own army.” Collier argues that it is unrealistic to expect despotic rulers such as Mugabe in Zimbabwe to ever be replaced except via a military coup because they will either rig an election or ignore the results if they are not pleasing (as was done in Burma/Myanmar). As such, Collier unambiguously states, in Zimbabwe, Burma and the like “coups should be encouraged because they are likely to lead to improved governance. (It’s hard to imagine things getting much worse.)”

Adam Roberts, author of The Wonga Coup, takes issue with the Collier argument on the grounds that if a coup is attempted but fails, as in the Wonga Coup, this provides the incumbent dictators with even more of an excuse to crack down on any opposition and to resist peaceful criticism. Roberts goes on to state that if the coup succeeds, it is “as likely to lead to further repression by a new regime, successive changes of power through military means or, worst of all, full-scale internal conflict.” He points to Somalia, Congo and Sierra Leone, where military attempts to seize power produced wars and state collapse. (Roberts, 2009)

I believe Adam Roberts is wrong on two counts. First, he ignores all of the successful coups that have taken place (and there are a lot of them). Furthermore, there is no guarantee that a coup will fail or that it will involve massive loss of life and suffering. And so, I find his opposition to coup attempts to be too simplistic and reflexive, based more on ideology rather than reality. The country discussed in his book, Equatorial Guinea, has never held a credible election and is considered one of the most corrupt nations in the world. President Obiang and his inner circle have amassed huge personal wealth from Equatorial Guinea’s substantial oil profits while most of the country has yet to reap the rewards. Human rights abuses — including torture, indefinite detention of political opponents, and extrajudicial killings — are widespread. It’s easy for Mr. Roberts to casually condemn coup attempts whilst residing in a prosperous and secure developed country such as the United Kingdom or the United States. However, I doubt the average resident of Equatorial Guinea would be so opposed to a change in leadership, regardless of the source of that change.

Secondly, Adam Roberts seems to be arguing that because there is a risk involved, that a chance should not be taken on a coup in places such as Burma, Zimbabwe, et al. Yes, there is a risk that another bad regime will come into being. But that exists as a hypothetical chance of something happening versus the reality of the outlaw regime that is already in existence. So, if the coup effort fails or another unpleasant government comes into power, what tangibly has been lost? Nothing. We have simply replaced one bad regime with another. If a better government takes control, however, which is not at all outside the realm of probability given the countries we are discussing, then is that not a success? How can a force that brings an end to violence and oppression be completely wrong, regardless of the sponsor or private motivations of this force?

As Paul Collier says, “The scope of the torment in Burma and Zimbabwe should be more than enough of a goad to action. We need to move away from impotent political protest, but we must also face the severe limitations on our own power. The real might lies with a dictator’s own forces of repression. Our best hope — and the best hope of suffering citizens — is to turn those very forces against the men they now protect.” Time to unleash the old mercenary dogs of war in these countries? Or to at least turn a blind eye to those inside or outside actors that wish to have a go at regime change?

The Outside Actors: When Mercenaries and Coups Intersect

As alluded to above, there is certainly a precedent for mercenary involvement in regime change. That is nothing unusual or new. There is also nothing unusual or new about paid warriors. “From Sparta and Athens, through ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, via the condottiere of Renaissance Italy to the 19th century, the soldier-for-hire graced a perfectly honorable profession.”(Forsyth cited in Venter, 2006) More recently, the paid warrior, or private security contractor to use the modern parlance, has enjoyed a huge comeback and rehabilitation of image, courtesy of overextended militaries in Iraq and Afghanistan (a comeback that I believe is not without potential unforeseen consequences, as I will expand on later).

A Review of Past Events: Case Studies

I share the following case studies and analysis to provide some depth to my statement above that assisted regime change (taking the form of a guardian coup) is indeed nothing new or unusual. I hasten to add that these are far from the only examples, but merely a representative sampling

The Forsyth Coup

The coup plot referenced at the start of this paper was the Wonga Coup, but I’d like to start with a predecessor to the Wonga Coup. A predecessor with the same target: Equatorial Guinea. This one is notable for the involvement of bestselling British author Frederick Forsyth.

Author, Frederick Forsyth, started out in Africa as a BBC correspondent covering the Biafra conflict of the 1960s. After it was decided that he was too personally invested in the conflict by showing an alleged bias toward the Biafran cause, he was pushed out of the BBC, but returned to Biafra to write his first book, The Biafra Story. He also stayed in touch with the players involved in the Biafra conflict.

Forsyth’s exact motives have never been publicly revealed, but at least one British newspaper has reported that his desire to overthrow Equatorial Guinea’s dictator (the current president’s uncle) was founded on a wish to not only remove a deranged dictator, but also to set up a Biafran base in Equatorial Guinea to continue that struggle. Regardless of his motive, the writer plotted and gave money to mercenaries in 1972 in an aborted attempt to topple the leader of Equatorial Guinea. (Chittenden, 2006)

Forsyth’s role in this effort was first publicly uncovered by investigative journalists working for Britain’s Sunday Times in 1978 upon reviewing the diaries of a mercenary who had committed suicide during a siege in east London after he had shot a policeman. The diaries identified Forsyth as being present at meetings in Hamburg where guns were obtained for the coup attempt. The Sunday Times contacted some of the mercenaries involved. It learned that Forsyth financed a former Scottish bank clerk named Alexander Gay, who had fought as a mercenary in the Congo and then Biafra, where he commanded a brigade of 3,000 men. In 1972, Mr. Gay reconnoitered the island segment of Equatorial Guinea, from which Francisco Macias ran the country as president for life, for a coup attempt. He came to believe that a small number of soldiers could overthrow the government. (Chittenden, 2006)

Mr Gay hired European mercenaries and chartered a fishing boat called the Albatross in Fuengirola, Spain. But things started to go wrong due to a British Special Branch informant in Gibraltar. The mercenaries stood out in the Spanish port, and an official who had been bribed refused to issue a certificate that would have allowed Mr. Gay to move the arms from Hamburg to Spain. While the boat sailed for Lanzarote in the Canary Islands, Mr. Gay went to Hamburg to sort out the weapons. But back in the Canaries, the boat was impounded after a tip-off from the British embassy in Madrid, the crew arrested and the coup attempt was aborted. (Lashmar, 2004)

Until recently, Forsyth would politely demur when quizzed on the Equatorial Guinea plot and all one could really say for certain was that his “fictional” book, Dogs of War, about a nearly identical coup d’ etat, was a very well-researched book. However, perhaps because the statute of limitations has expired, or the players involved have died or simply because the evidence was so overwhelming, Forsyth admitted the extent of his involvement in the attempted coup in 2005 to The Wonga Coup author, Adam Roberts. While researching his book, Roberts came across a previously classified Foreign Office cable in the National Archives that described the 1973 coup attempt.

Struck by the similarity with The Dogs of War, Roberts challenged Forsyth, who told him: “I originally postulated a question to myself. Would it be possible for a group of paid and bought-for mercenaries to topple a republic? I looked around and saw Fernando Po, and every story about the country was gruesome . . . I decided it could be done. If you stormed the palace . . . probably by sunrise you could take over, provided you have a substitute African president and announced it was an internal coup d’état.” (Chittenden, 2006) We’ll never know what the outcome might have been of Freddie’s coup, but this was not the last time that someone would view Equatorial Guinea as an easy target.

Forsyth Coup Outcome: Failure

The Wonga Coup

“The story of the Wonga Coup began, ultimately in Angola’s civil war. It was in Angola that the soldiers of 32 Battalion cut their teeth, and it was in Angola that Simon Mann’s Executive Outcomes was born. Angola’s war, at least in the 1990s, was a battle for control of oil and diamonds, not one of ideology. Similarly, the scrap for Equatorial Guinea was all about controlling oil revenues.” (Roberts, 2009)

For some background on that opening statement, 32 Battalion was an elite unit of the South African Defense Force comprised of former Frente Nacional de Libertação de Angola (FNLA) guerillas from Angola integrated with South African officers. 32 Battalion was primarily deployed in southern Angola and participated in some particularly brutal and heavy combat during the 1980s. In 1989, as the apartheid regime in South Africa was disintegrating and the “Border Wars” in Namibia and Angola were winding down, the South African Defense Force began making heavy cuts in military personnel. 32 Battalion was not spared in this process and was formally disbanded in 1993, and retired to the miserable, former asbestos-mining town of Pomfret, South Africa. This treatment from the South African government left most of the 32 Battalion members with feelings of betrayal and bitterness.

Many members of 32 Battalion found that their skills were not obsolete though, as they were soon recruited by private military firms such as Executive Outcomes. Executive Outcomes was a pioneer in filling the niche for professional, corporate military services following the end of the Cold War. With slick brochures promising all the aspects of a highly-trained modern military force such as the ability to field not only professional soldiers but also armor (BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles) and support aircraft such as Mi-24 Hind and Mi-8 Hip helicopters, Executive Outcomes had little trouble attracting clients in the post-Cold War chaos that was Africa in the 1990s. (Venter, 2006)

Two particularly noteworthy contracts for Executive Outcomes were in Angola and Sierra Leone. In Angola, Executive Outcomes (comprised mainly of former soldiers from 32 Battalion) ironically fought on the side of the Angolan government against their former allies in UNITA. In a short span of time, the professional skills and discipline of Executive Outcomes in combat was too much for UNITA and the rebels sought peace. This led to a cease-fire and the signing of the Lusaka Protocol, formally ending the Angolan civil war – if only for a few years.

In Sierra Leone, the company successfully reigned in a vicious group of guerrillas calling themselves the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and regained control of the diamond fields the government of Sierra Leone had lost to the rebels (and that the rebels were using to finance their operations). These battlefield setbacks forced the RUF to the bargaining table for a negotiated peace. A peace, incidentally, that evaporated when Executive Outcomes left Sierra Leone.

Why this extensive discussion of Executive Outcomes and 32 Battalion? It was from these sources that the backbone of the Wonga Coup was formed. The plan of the Wonga Coup was to remove the country’s dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, and replace him with his rival Severo Moto, an exile living in Madrid. In return, Simon Mann and the others expected to receive their large “splodge of wonga” and millions more in government contracts as well as lucrative oil rights. With Equatorial Guinea and President Teodoro Obiang Nguema now earning billions of dollars every year from its oil and gas reserves, there would have been a lot of “wonga” to go around.

Simon Mann’s adventure fell apart on the runway at Manyame military airbase outside the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, when he and the other soldiers of fortune were arrested as described in the introduction of this paper. An advance party on the ground in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, led by Nic du Toit, that was supposed to secure the airport in the capital for landing, was also arrested after the government of Zimbabwe tipped off the government in Equatorial Guinea. “It was the normal Zimbabwean game of selling arms to anyone without end user certificates. The Zimbabweans only changed sides at the last moment. The plane arrived at 7:10pm and the arrests were not made until after midnight. Mugabe saw in Simon just a huge wad of notes. And Obiang wanted this white man because for the first time in his life, he’s been able to parade on the world stage as a victim of a white plot.” (Berger, 2008)

The reason for the breakdown of the Wonga Coup appears to have been an absence of operational security brought about by the need for multiple investors in the project as well as the loose tongues of some of those involved and the use of aircraft to transport the men and weaponry to their destination. Intelligence agencies across Africa, Europe and almost certainly the United States were aware of the Wonga Coup plot in advance of its initiation. Britain, for example, was given a full outline of the coup plot, including the dates, details of arms shipments and key players, months before the coup was launched. Interestingly, no one bothered to warn the government of Equatorial Guinea. Even more interesting was the presence of two Spanish warships, filled with hundreds of soldiers, which just happened to be moored off the coast of Equatorial Guinea on the expected day of the coup. (Roberts, 2009) The presence of the Spanish ships provides a fair amount of weight to the allegations by the coup participants that they had more than tacit support from a number of governments that now wish for the matter to be forgotten.

Interestingly, Frederick Forsyth himself provided a brief analysis of the Wonga Coup and its chances for success (and he should know) in the introduction to, War Dog.

“The funny thing about recent events in Equatorial Guinea is that had the South Africans actually managed to get ashore at Malabo, they would have probably captured both Nguema and the country in an hour because at the time that tin pot dictator’s defense structure was centered around an emasculated praetorian guard that was responsible for the security of the nation. Nguema was so paranoid about being murdered by his own people that while his bodyguards were issued with weapons, they weren’t given a single round of ammunition. He kept all that locked in a cellar below his throne room where he also safeguarded his foreign reserves.

Had the South Africans, under the mercenary leader Nic du Toit pulled it off, it would have been a double coup: they’d have had the country and the money. And let us not forget that immense lake of oil upon which Equatorial Guinea is perched, the reason why Mark Thatcher – the son of a former British PM, and his friend Simon Mann – were first tempted into that eventually calamitous project.” (Venter, 2006)

The Wonga Coup Outcome: Failure

Bob Denard and the Comoros Islands

Bob Denard (real name: Gilbert Bourgeaud) was born in Bordeaux and served in the French marine commandos in the early 1950s, before entering the colonial police in pre-independence Algeria and Morocco. After a short time spent selling kitchen appliances in Paris, Denard moved back to Africa offering his services as a mercenary. He began his mercenary career in the Belgian Congo province of Katanga in 1961 when he and other foreign mercenaries were brought in to assist with the independence movement there. Denard became famous for being part of a team which, in 1963, rescued white civilians encircled by rebels in Stanleyville (now Kisangani) within Katanga.

During the following decades, he is believed to have also fought in Yemen, Gabon, the former Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Nigeria, Benin (where he was involved in a failed coup attempt) and Angola, but his favorite playground was the Comoros Islands. There he was involved in four of the more than 20 coups and coup attempts that have taken place in the Comoros archipelago since the islands won independence from France in 1975. He overthrew the government the first time on August 3, 1975, following President Ahmed Abdallah’s unilateral declaration of the Comoros’ independence on July 6, 1975. Ahmed Abdallah was soon replaced with a man named Ali Soilih. (Nicholson, 2007)

However, Ali Soilih did not perform as expected. He soon instituted a number of socialist policies and policies antagonistic to France. These deteriorating relations with France resulted in a cutoff of financial aid and the treasury in Comoros began to run dry. So, Soilih came up with a creative solution. Instead of paying the government bureaucrats, Soilih fired them all and replaced the civil service with illiterate teenagers. As if he intentionally wished to lose the support of the populace, Soilih then outraged the large Muslim population by ordering women to stop wearing veils and by banning traditional wedding feasts. Following a warning from a fortune teller that he would be overthrown by a man with a dog, Soilih commanded his youth brigade to kill every dog in the islands. They scoured villages, tied the captive canines to the back of a Land-Rover and dragged them to death through the streets. (Anon., 1978)

Enough was enough and so on the night of May 13, 1978, Bob Denard returned to overthrow President Soilih and re-instate Ahmed Abdallah (Abdallah took out a mortgage on his Paris apartment to help finance the operation). As foretold, Denard was accompanied by a German shepherd dog. Within a few hours, Denard and his gang had shot up Soilih’s bodyguard, put the dictator under arrest (allegedly surprising him in his bedroom while he was smoking hashish with two prostitutes and watching a pornographic movie) and accepted the surrender of the Comoran army, an amateurish force of 200 men who did not fire a single shot. The coup touched off a week of celebration that grew still more frenzied with the announcement that Soilih had unfortunately died while “trying to escape.” (Anon., 1978)

Although Ahmed Abdallah was officially “president”, Bob Denard and his mercenary “advisers” were assigned to the army, police, post office and telephone company and in every instance took firm, though unofficial, command. And so, for eleven years (1978-1989) Denard unofficially ruled the Comoros Islands and maintained extensive business interests in the archipelago, comprising hotels, lands and the 500-man “presidential guard.” The Comoros also served as his logistics base for military operations in Mozambique and Angola. (Nicholson, 2007) Bob Denard even became a Comoran citizen and converted to Islam so that he could take multiple wives (He would have seven marriages and eight children in his lifetime).

Abdallah remained president until 1989 when, fearing a coup d’état, he signed a decree ordering Denard’s presidential guard to disarm the armed forces. Shortly after the signing of the decree, Abdallah was allegedly shot dead in his office by a disgruntled military officer. The cause of his death as well as the circumstances remain in dispute, but what is certain is that Abdallah was indeed slain, leading Denard to temporarily assume full control of the Comoros Islands again. However, perhaps weary of the responsibilities of governance, Denard relinquished power to Said Mohamed Djohar, who was, incidentally, Soilih’s older half-brother, and retired first to South Africa and then to his native France.

Retirement life did not suit Mr. Denard though, and so in September of 1995 he returned to the Comoros Islands, landing on a beach with 30 mercenaries in Zodiac inflatable boats, and seized control of the government yet again. After a week of fun, the French army gently removed Denard from power and he returned to France, where he died on the 13th of October, 2007.

As an interesting “oh by the way”, Bob Denard’s African exploits led many to regard him as the model for the hero of Frederick Forsyth’s 1974 novel The Dogs of War (discussed above under The Forsyth Coup). Ironically, Denard’s troop of mercenaries all had a copy of it in French in their back pockets when they seized the Comoros Islands for the first time. They were referring to it almost page by page. (Venter, 2006)

Comoros Islands Coup Outcomes: Successful
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby RYP » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:04 pm

Ghana and the Nobistor Affair

Godfrey Osei has always been an ambitious man. As a low level government employee in Ghana, he was arrested and jailed for his participation in a 1983 coup attempt against the Marxist government of Jerry Rawlings. However, Osei was able to escape from the Ghanian prison and made his way to the United States. Once there, he soon began to plot another coup against Jerry Rawlings.

Stories vary, but one way or another Godfrey Osei was able to raise approximately $500,000. One story version is that Osei borrowed the funds from a Chinese organized crime group in New York after agreeing to pay interest rates of 300 percent and promising the group gambling concessions in Ghana once he secured control of the country. Another, less Hollywoodesque version, is that Osei was funded by Israel’s Mossad and/or America’s Central Intelligence Agency – both of whom wanted Jerry Rawlings gone.

In possession of working capital for his venture, Osei then focused on acquiring weaponry. For this, he turned to a Texas commodities broker named Ted Bishop, who happened to have very good connections with Argentina’s Fabricaciones Militares, the government arms producer (and also connections to Israel’s Mossad, which strengthens the funding story above). In exchange for his assistance, Bishop was allegedly promised exclusive marketing rights for Ghana’s coffee and cocoa crops (again after Osei was in power, of course). Argentina, still suffering from a negative impression of their military equipment following the Falklands fiasco, was happy to have a buyer for their weaponry. Osei spent $200,000 on six tons of weapons from Fabricaciones Militares that included 70 FAL rifles, submachine guns, revolvers, ammunition for all of these firearms and fragmentation grenades. In the midst of his dealmaking, Osei had been able to pick up eight American mercenaries (Vietnam veterans) for his project. Perhaps of interest to this audience, one of the mercenaries was an international relations graduate student at California’s San Francisco State University. (Carey, 1986)

The plan to place Godfrey Osei in control of Ghana was as follows: The men were to go ashore with Zodiac inflatable boats near the city of Accra and strike a government compound there, freeing prisoners in a nearby jail who were Central Intelligence Agency employees imprisoned by Jerry Rawlings. The group would then split into two assault teams – one would attack the presidential palace and the other would attack the remaining government buildings of interest. Once their objectives had been achieved, the two assault groups would reunite for the purpose of attacking a Libyan base and training center 40 miles from Accra.

To make this plan a reality, the eight American mercenaries were to pick up the weapons Osei had purchased in Buenos Aires, Argentina, using a seagoing tug named the Nobistor, and then proceed to the coast of Africa – the Ivory Coast (Cote d’ Ivoire) to be specific. Upon their arrival, the Nobistor and the mercenaries were to rendezvous with 80 to 100 trained soldiers loyal to Osei. The mercenaries were to be paid $10,000 for ferrying the weapons to Ghana. As compensation for their service in support of the actual overthrow of the government, they were supposedly promised access to the Ghanian national treasury and the national gold and diamond mines. (Bishop, 1986)

The plan started out well. However, after picking up the weapons in Argentina, loading them on the Nobistor and getting underway toward the coast of Africa, the mercenaries mutinied. The men had lost confidence in Osei, who had declined to join them on their journey at the last minute and had taken to using a swagger stick and strutting around wearing a beret with a Nazi SS badge on it. More importantly though, evidence indicated that the Ghanian government was aware of the pending invasion. If true, the mercenaries would have been slaughtered upon their arrival in Ghana. Demanding that the crew of the boat turn back toward South America, the group dropped anchor in Guanabara Bay, a small port 20 miles east of Rio de Janeiro.

It was at the Nobistor’s captain’s insistence that they dock in Brazil. However, he could have perhaps chosen a more ideal location for the Nobistor to land as they arrived at a sensitive time in Brazil. An agrarian reform movement had provoked armed resistance from wealthy landowners opposed to distributing their land to millions of peasants. Searching the Nobistor, it did not take the Federal Police long to discover the six tons of weapons. The Brazilian authorities considered it “too much of a coincidence” that six tons of heavy weaponry would arrive on their shores just as wealthy landowners were desperately seeking arms, and all eight men were jailed with sentences ranging from four to five years. After one of the men wrote to his wife requesting “iron enriched” vitamins, she knew exactly what he meant and mailed four hack saw blades, hidden inside a package of Carnation powdered milk. Half of the men were able to escape in an attempt that one described as “5% planning and 95% luck” and make their way on an extraordinary journey across South America back to the United States. (Carey, 1986)

I was fortunate enough to correspond with a member of the mercenary team (who wishes to remain anonymous) and he was able to fill in many of the above details.

Ghana and the Nobistor Affair Outcome: Failure

The Situation Today

The world is awash in mercenaries. They may call themselves by a different name (private security contractors) but these are still men that kill for money – mercenaries, in other words. As Al Venter, the author of War Dog, reminds us, “During the past twelve or fifteen years there has been a spate of mercenary involvement in coups and uprisings across the African continent.” In early 1999, news agencies mentioned that there were former Soviet pilots in the pay of Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who was killed in 2002. Certainly Russian and Ukrainian aviators flying Mikoyan fighters fought on both sides of the Ethiopian-Eritrean war. Similarly in the Congo (both before and after the recently departed Elder Kabila ousted Mobutu), Serbs, South Africans, Israelis, Croats, Zimbabweans, Germans, French and other nationalities were deeply involved, some fighting for, and others against the government. More mercenaries were seen in action with rebel contingents in Guinea-Bissau, and reports out of Dakar speak of foreign veterans (possibly French) helping dissident Senegalese rebels in Cassamance Province. It was the same in Namibia’s Caprivi Zipvel where, until Dr. Jonas Savimbi was killed, UNITA rebel forces, recruited and trained by mercenaries working for Savimbi, crossed the ill-defined frontier from Angola at will to drive government troops into the jungle.

It is also the same story in Sudan, where first Iraqi pilots and then Russian mercenaries flew military aircraft. Additionally, there was a time when Khartoum spiced up its ground forces with members of the Afghan mujahedeen, Yemenis and al Qaeda operatives. Other foreign nationals, including some former Executive Outcomes mercenaries (discussed above under the Wonga Coup case study) who had originally been active in Sierra Leone and Angola, also eventually found themselves in Sudan. Some of those Executive Outcomes mercenaries also returned to Sierra Leone to fight for the other side. (Venter, 2006)

In, War Dog, the author wrote about the presence of a white-painted Revolutionary United Front (RUF) helicopter that operated briefly in support of the RUF in the Freetown flight corridor. The helicopter was based in the Liberian capital of Monrovia and regularly crossed into Sierra Leone airspace to support rebel operations. Various national intelligence services crunched numbers and dates and deduced that the intruding helicopter was being run by some of the old South African crews who had flown for Executive Outcomes in Angola and Sierra Leone five years prior. And on the ground, about a dozen mercenaries of East European stock were serving with the RUF at this time (later joined by some South Africans and Serbs). Most of the imported mercenaries were paid their wages in raw diamonds. The presence of European mercenaries was first discovered when government troops returned with the heads of two of them after a battle. (Venter, 2006) As we can see from all of the above, the world of mercenaries and coup plots is very much an active part of our globalized society today.

For some even more contemporary evidence, consider events in the three Guineas of Africa (Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea) in just the past few months. In March of 2009 army troops shot dead João Bernardo Vieira, the president of Guinea-Bissau, in an effort to bring in a new president. In neighboring Guinea, the death in December 2008 of the long-time president, Lansana Conté, sparked a coup by junior and mid-ranking army officers. And in February of 2009, officials in Equatorial Guinea said they had arrested 16 men involved in another attempt to overthrow the government of President Obiang. The Equatorial Guinea affair was almost certainly a fake coup (see definition above) designed to sweep up some political undesirables. (Polgreen and Cowell, 2009)

Freelance journalist David Axe reported in May 2009 that in the wake of the recent rebel uprising in eastern Chad, up to three Chadian aircraft had attacked targets inside Sudan. The aircraft were Su-25 attack jets bought from, and flown by, Ukrainians. Chad’s air force is small but heavily armed and very active over the border region. Last year, rebels shot down a Chadian Mi-35 flown by Ukrainian mercenaries. And despite protests from the Sudanese government, there are persistent rumors of Chinese pilots operating fighter aircraft within Sudan (not an entirely implausible scenario if one contemplates the close ties between Sudan and China). (Axe, 2009)

In Mogadishu, Somalia, also in May 2009, between 280 and 300 foreign fighters, comprising a mix of mercenaries and Islamic ideologues, were involved in an attempted coup against President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the moderate Islamic “leader” of Somalia. The coup attempt unleashed a week of fierce fighting between thousands of Somali Islamic “insurgents” working with the foreign fighters mentioned above and the government forces working with African Union (AU) forces. (Hassan, 2009)

The more polished side of the mercenary world has not been idle either. Rebranding efforts have been underway for some time now to try and clean up the “dogs of war” image and to offer corporate services to mainstream governments (see Executive Outcomes above). The success of this rebranding effort can be seen in comments Kofi Annan, the former United Nations Secretary General, made at the Annual Ditchley Foundation Lecture in 1998 when he declared that, “When we had need of skilled soldiers to separate fighters from refugees in the Rwandan camps in Goma, I considered the possibility of engaging a private firm. I did not do so because I believed the world might not be ready to privatize peace.” (Venter, 2006)

These more polished, new age mercenaries – the private military companies – have been around for years, but their importance has increased exponentially in post-Cold War defense spending. Approximately 240,000 contractor employees support the U.S. missions alone in Iraq and Afghanistan, actually outnumbering the troops they serve. These contractors provide security, military and police training, logistics and air support – collecting some $100 billion of the $830 billion U.S. taxpayers have paid out in the two wars. (Vardi, 2009)

Contractors have drawn fire because of high-profile scandals such as Titan Corp., now part of L-3 Communications, and CACI International, who were caught up in prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib prison. Blackwater, the notorious private military firm recently renamed Xe Services, had been protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq but got kicked out of the country after its employees killed seventeen civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in September 2007.

Yet the business keeps growing–for giants like KBR (annual sales: $11.6 billion); and SAIC ($10.1 billion), which manages the delivery of mine-resistant vehicles; and for smaller private firms like Triple Canopy, which does security work; and IAP Worldwide Services, helping to generate power at forward operating bases; or DynCorp training Afghan police, building barracks and managing poppy eradication in the war’s biggest new contract. That’s on top of major deals DynCorp already scored in Iraq, airlifting and protecting diplomats and supplying combat interpreters. “There is no intent not to have contractors in the battlefield–I am not uncomfortable with a 1:1 ratio,” says Jacques Gansler, former Under Secretary of Defense in the Clinton Administration and chairman of a 2007 commission that urgently called for contracting reform. “Issues need to be resolved,” he says, “but you can’t get along without them.” (Vardi, 2009)

Despite all of its scandals, even Blackwater/Xe is still active. The company has gone back to its roots: training police officers and active-duty military at a vast camp in Moyock, North Carolina. Xe would like to expand that business to any region of the world that might require nation-building. And it certainly has its eye on Afghanistan, where it is already training that nation’s border patrol, as well as protecting State Department personnel and conducting low-altitude air drops of arms and other supplies for the U.S. military in remote locations. (Vardi, 2009)

The Future: How It Might Look

Some clues to the future are offered by the rebranding trend mentioned above. Pursuing this rebranding trend, Tim Spicer (a longtime figure in the mercenary world and the founder of Aegis) pronounced his creed in 2002­ that the world was waiting for “the speed and flexibility with which private security companies can deploy, rather than wait for the U.N. to form a force.” (Armstrong, 2008) He went further still, arguing that private military companies were ideal vehicles for operations such as those to aid the Northern Alliance forces that fought against the Taliban or the Iraqi resistance to Saddam Hussein. He even suggested that it might be in the international community’s interest if PMCs were hired to intervene in long-running conflicts in Sudan or to topple leaders like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. In short, Spicer proposed the overt shifting of significant foreign policy objectives to mercenary companies -­ an idea that would have been met with derision only a few years before, ­yet he received a respectful hearing. (Armstrong, 2008)

In 2006, infamous mercenary firm Blackwater (now Xe Services) offered to supply a brigade-sized force to Darfur to assist in peacekeeping efforts alongside the African Union’s (AU) force. This offer led to widespread debate over the potential of using PMCs to help play a role in protecting populations rather than just VIPs and corporate facilities in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. However, the discussion was short-lived, largely due to misconduct on the part of several contractors in Iraq the following year. Still though, PMCs are proactively attempting to get themselves on the ground in unstable areas where they think they can help — and make some money along the way. Xe Services wants to send a ship to the Gulf of Aden to fight pirates, and other firms have offered their services in these dangerous waters as well. Yet others are offering their services in such varied operations as the tracking of ivory smugglers, anti-piracy operations off Liberia and training Congolese troops to better protect refugee camps. (Armstrong, 2008)

One proposal by the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC), an industry trade group, suggests a “politically holistic approach” to the “unstable” world that has emerged from the remains of the Cold War. The association argues that around the world failed states require “skilled nursing back to health”. And, of course, private military companies believe they have just the skills needed for this process that “can take 10 to 15 years.” The private military companies perceive roles for themselves in post-conflict reconstruction, including such ideas as ‘SSR’ (security sector reform, the retraining of security forces) and ‘DDR’ (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration). An example of this softer, more friendly approach cited by PMCs is ArmorGroup’s (A British PMC recently acquired by G4S) experience in Mozambique. Between 1985 and 1991, by helping to restore the railway from Malawi to the Indian Ocean, “We delivered an economic zone because it was secure,” declares its spokesman. (Geraghty, 2007)

Eric Westropp, a veteran member of the Control Risks team (a British PMC), has an even more rosy future in mind for private military companies and private security contractors/mercenaries. His dream is to spread good governance to cure the instability of countries that are falling apart. He envisages linking private military companies with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to “win hearts and minds” while simultaneously giving an economic boost to wrecked economies. The process, Mr. Westropp argues, would empower investors to work in partnership with the international aid agencies “to create an ecosystem in which peace would triumph over warlordism.” (Geraghty, 2007)

So, it would seem that mercenaries (even if they rename and rebrand themselves as private security contractors, working for private military companies) are here to stay in one form or another. And that is assuming that nothing happens to make their use even more mainstream for reasons such as continued manpower shortages in the Western countries or various other uses such as those discussed above.

However, what is the reason behind this frantic rebranding effort by the PMCs? Why are they so keen to promote their services in other areas? The reason for this frantic rebranding and effort to offer services in other sectors is a response to the deflation of the Iraq revenue bubble. Western military forces are drawing down their presence in Iraq, and the demands of the conflict in Afghanistan are not enough to replace this loss of business. PMCs are looking around for new revenue sources.

So, while the above rebranding effort may sound great and look good on paper, it unfortunately strikes me more as clever marketing than realistic proposals. The individuals working for these companies are trained to be aggressive and to kill people. They are not trained to hold hands and make friends. What happens when the mercenaries/private security contractors get in a firefight and civilians are killed? They’ll be viewed as occupiers again and treated with hostility.

In addition, does it not stand to reason that the contractors themselves will feel bored and frustrated with their new assignments? They certainly won’t be able to command the high salaries they have become famous for. Already, as demand has been decreasing for PMCs with the decline of the Iraq revenue, and supply has been increasing with more contractors hitting the market, wages have been dropping. (Geraghty, 2007) This reduction in wages will not be sufficient to continue to attract the most highly skilled and intelligent operators, presumably leading to a decrease in professionalism and quality. And the 10 to 15 years cited above is a long time for men of action to hold hands and make friends, while earning a low salary. Would none of them contemplate that it might be easier to short-cut the process and run the country themselves via an overt coup or a more subtle, creeping one in a process that makes the host country increasingly, or completely, dependent on the PMC for everything from security to logistics operations?

And would Western ideas of good governance even be welcome in these “failed states?” Will governments and PMCs have the stamina and patience to see an operation through for 10 to 15 years without any visible return other than containing terrorism or “warlordism?” Without government funds to run such programs, they seem distinctly utopian. Private military companies, after all, exist to make a profit. Is there a hole to be filled large enough to accommodate the myriad services the proliferating security companies have to offer? Many volunteers in the aid community would challenge this idea, considering it their territory. (Geraghty, 2007) It seems inevitable that an industry shakeout is on the way which will leave a lot of security contractors looking for work and missing their massive paychecks.

And can we really assume that all of these professional killers will smoothly integrate back into polite society? I’m afraid the evidence would argue otherwise, and I am not just referring to the evidence offered by the case studies above.

Consider the case of a former private security contractor named Richard Blanchard who was recently arrested (March 2009) in Shelbyville, Tennessee, for robbing a convenience store of $90. (Melson, 2009) During his time in Iraq, Mr. Blanchard was earning $15,000 a month (tax free) for protecting American engineers who were disposing of Saddam Hussein’s arsenal in Fallujah.

Some men who have made action and killing their profession have a tough time adjusting back to normal society. Mr. Blanchard was one of these men. Before his arrest for the convenience store robbery, he had been arrested several times by Shelbyville police since his return from Iraq on charges ranging from assault to resisting arrest and leaving the scene of an accident.

Does anyone believe that if Mr. Blanchard were approached with a serious offer of employment for participating in a military coup that he would refuse it? I doubt it. And there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of Richard Blanchards out there. As a cursory review of crime statistics will reveal, there is no shortage of volunteers to engage in illegal activity for the promise of high profits.

Just as the end of the Cold War unleashed a flood of suddenly redundant weaponry onto the global marketplace and destabilized developing countries around the world, so I believe the same may be true today with the winding down of Iraq and other conflicts. A new wave is ready to hit the global marketplace, only instead of military hardware this time it is military “software”, or human bodies in the form of private security contractors/mercenaries trained to kill. Perhaps this wave will prove even deadlier?

What I am arguing is that with human nature being what it is, coups are far from outdated, but indeed are a very relevant part of the future. Whether this is a fortunate or unfortunate state of affairs, I will leave to the individual to decide. “The idea that a coup d’ etat can be carried out in many parts of the world with equal ease by small groups of men of the left and the right (and, for all one knows, also of the centre), provided they have mastered some elementary lessons of modern politics, is, of course, quite shocking.” (Laqueur cited in Luttwak, 1979) And yet it is so. As such, for my closing section, I would like to draw attention to how fundamentally straightforward a coup could be for an adventurous businessperson and, this being the case, why they shall not be disappearing anytime soon. If one reads the internal communications of the architects of the Wonga Coup, for example, it is clear that it was very much a business venture.

The Coup of the Future?

The following is based on an amalgamation of not just published research and lessons learned, but my firsthand experience and interviews as well. Obviously, there is no “one size fits all” formula for a coup. Each country or set of circumstances presents its own challenges and opportunities. That said, I believe a few basic elements remain consistent. As such, I will attempt a structural outline for a potential coup. As the focus of this paper has been on Africa, I am assuming this hypothetical effort will take place there as well. One could indeed accuse me of being an “armchair general”, but I still consider the below to be illustrative (and it has certainly been heavily researched by me) and therefore of some value.

First off, a coup needs weaponry. Obtaining the sort of firepower one needs for a coup might seem like a daunting task. However, I assure you that it is not. While visiting Peshawar, Pakistan, last year, my contact took my companions and me to an illegal weapons manufacturing facility on the city outskirts. We were just there to see the operation and take some pictures, but were offered all manner of light weaponry – handguns, shotguns, rifles and more.

And earlier this year, the same companions and I were able to bribe our way onto a military base in the country of Belarus for a look around. Seeing the bribe paid to the guards at the entrance, a man took us aside and offered us all manner of heavy weaponry for the right price. And by heavy weaponry, I am referring to hardware such as anti-tank rockets, artillery, tanks and attack helicopters.

I need to emphasize that I am not a military professional or a former CIA agent with scores of underworld contacts. In other words, if I can do this, almost anyone could. As evidence of this and if anyone is interested, photographic documentation of the above events is available on at ... s-is-good/ and ... x-belarus/ respectively.

For our hypothetical coup, I would select two attack helicopters (such as the Russian Mi-24 Hind offered by the military in Belarus) and an assortment of heavy machine guns (7.62 mm up to .50 caliber), handheld anti-armor rockets, fragmentation grenades and light assault weapons such as AK-47s or Heckler & Koch MP5s. Special Forces operators prefer weapons local to the target area because this makes it easy to acquire additional weapons, ammunition and parts from local supplies or dead opposition figures. Such a calculation would certainly figure into our acquisitions.

Now, what about staffing our hypothetical coup team? Simon Mann had no trouble at all rounding up volunteers from the former 32 Battalion (discussed above). And according to Robert Young Pelton, in his book Licensed to Kill, no one else would either. Pelton asserts that anyone that showed up in Pomfret, South Africa, with the right amount of money could assemble a mercenary army in 24 hours. And this is all assuming that we know no one who might be of assistance to us and have contacts in the “old boy” mercenary network. According to my contact on the Nobistor affair (see above), this is much easier than many people would imagine. Undoubtedly, if former private security contractors/mercenaries were contemplating a coup, they would have a broad network of friends and contacts upon whom they could draw. And what about force requirements? All evidence seems to suggest that 75-100 men is an ideal number – backed up by the equipment we acquired above. The above happens to match the exact formula (force requirements) that Executive Outcomes used with such success in Sierra Leone and Angola (Venter, 2006).

Choosing a target for our coup – This must be done with some caution. Certainly, we do not want to pick on a country with a powerful supporter because the last thing we want is the American 101st Airborne parachuting in to undo our hard work. So, one must pick a country that is isolated and without friends. Recall the “coup prognosis” checklist discussed above? Secondly, we need to pick a country that is a mess. Aside from verbal lashings, would anyone in the Western political establishment not secretly breathe a sigh of relief if someone swept into a place such as Somalia and imposed a semblance of order? I doubt it.

To be sure though, we must focus on developing the right political conditions for our move. The organizers of the Wonga Coup did this by hiring public relations firms prior to their coup attempt, and I believe we should follow this example in our hypothetical coup. There are a variety of different PR firms in existence with different contacts and specialties. Obviously, we would wish to hire a firm with a specialization in African affairs. And we certainly would not reveal our plans for regime change, but instead would seek to highlight problems with the current government and gain a more sympathetic audience in Whitehall, Washington D.C., and Beijing. A typical PR campaign can be constructed for under $100,000 and if one considers the potential benefits, this is an extraordinary return on our investment. (Roberts, 2009) Stephen Walt, writing for Foreign Policy, describes this world the PR firms can penetrate: “In addition to the various general-purpose groups named above, there are also a vast array of special interest think tanks, committees, groups, and lobbies with their own particular international agendas. Whether the issue is Cuba, Darfur, the Middle East, Armenia, arms control, trade, population, human rights, climate policy, or what have you, there is bound to be some group pressing Washington to focus more energy and attention on their particular pet issue. And with 535 Congresspersons to choose from, there’s a good chance you can find at least one to promote your agenda on the Hill.” The point is not that we need the governments of Britain, the United States or Beijing to do anything, but more importantly, we need them not to do anything once we launch our coup.

Intelligence gathering and reconnaissance are vital once we have chosen our target because we must determine how many guards are defending sites of interest to us, avenues of approach we or they will utilize, where reinforcements will likely arrive from, etc. During this orientation phase we will also focus on the opposition and their disposition (do we anticipate the opposition to defend, attack or withdraw?), equipment, and resources. This information will help us decide where we need to direct the most resources – likely for capturing the president. Furthermore it will allow us to develop a fire support plan to determine the placement of weaponry such as mortars and heavy machine guns we have purchased.

Aside from visiting locations in person, one can utilize satellite images from Google Maps for analysis. For example: Upon visiting Khartoum, Sudan, earlier this year I was quite surprised by what I considered to be several significant security risks Sudan’s government was neglecting. Incidentally, I was able to photograph most of these security lapses with relative ease (and had I possessed a hidden camera, I would have been able to photograph all of them). Upon returning home, I confirmed these security lapses I had noticed with surprisingly clear images from Google Maps. Had I nefarious intent, I could easily combine the satellite imagery from Google with my pictures taken in person and develop a solid plan of attack.

Getting there – For a variety of obvious reasons, one cannot just purchase tickets to whichever capital we wish to seize and board an airline with a team of mercenaries weighed down with heavy weaponry. In addition, we need life support functions from where our attack is launched, a headquarters to coordinate logistical issues (such as where do team members go if they run out of ammunition, what to do with captured opposition figures and where to take team members that are injured), toilets, food, medical facilities, and an armory. A ship would be absolutely ideal for this. A ship could also comfortably house our two attack helicopters until we were ready to launch them into action. In fact, no less of an authority than Frederick Forsyth (discussed above), endorsed this approach as well in his critique of the Wonga Coup. “I became convinced that a mercenary invasion by air would not succeed. I was right because it didn’t work for Mike Hoare and his group when they tried to take the Seychelles in 1981, and it certainly didn’t work for the group from Pretoria in Equatorial Guinea. In both cases, I believe the plotters ignored the basics by trying to come in by plane. I was always convinced that the attackers would need the freedom and invisibility of the ocean to launch such an operation. Invasion from the water is an obvious option because until you arrive, nobody knows you’re there. Also, you do your training and kitting-up onboard. The ocean is ideal for target practice, getting your weapons battle-ready, perhaps removing manufacturer’s grease and that sort of thing. In other words, you prepare. And when you come in over the horizon and your target is ahead of you, your men are landed and they storm the capital. Bob Denard [whose successes were highlighted above] invaded Grand Comoros by trawler out of Le Havre and he did exactly that.” (Forsyth cited in Venter, 2006)

What about tactics? Again, each country has its own set of particulars, but a few basic universal elements stand out. The tactical template of our assault can be gleaned from the lessons learned above, as well as from this insightful analysis offered by the former mercenary with whom I corresponded on the Nobistor affair, “Most coup attempts in western Africa usually succeed because the colonial powers put the capitals on the coast with those tribes closest to the center of power getting the wealth, while the disenfranchised are ripe for fomenting trouble. So, a quick strike…then the other targets [could be] hit fast.” Details on launching the operation such as the appropriate signal to initiate the operation, the time of attack, proper fire support positions, supervising the operation, chains of command, exact equipment requirements (such as night vision goggles), attack positions, whether to wear the uniforms of the opposition troops in order to confuse them, etc. go well beyond the scope of this paper (and one would hope that if we have hired competent fighters, that these sorts of issues would be second nature for them). However, we can assume a few constants with a relatively high degree of confidence.

A common feature of militaries in developing countries is a sense of restlessness, low pay and low morale. This is both a problem and an opportunity. It is a problem for the government they are ostensibly designed to protect and it presents a problem for those seeking political stability. However, it creates an opportunity for those seeking a coup, or “assisted regime change.” These common features result in forces that generally lack initiative and rely too heavily on the chain of command. Removing the top of this chain or even just disrupting it, tends to throw these military forces into disarray and leads to widespread desertions.

This is not an issue that has failed to be noticed by Western militaries. An interview with a senior military planner in the U.S. Marines (who demanded anonymity given the sensitive nature of the discussion) revealed the following loose plan to me for taking down a government with a small, well-trained force of outside actors:

It may possibly just be necessary to seize the president and media complex, striking at the organizational heart of the entire state. In Khartoum, for example, these are a city block away from each other and all of the country’s media capabilities are centered in the same location along the Nile River. Most other African capitals feature similar security shortcomings. However, an assault plan should definitely be in place to neutralize the military headquarters as well, should a disruption in the chain of command be needed. (Alternatively, it may be possible to sabotage the communications system of various police and military headquarters which would leave them in an information vacuum, unaware of what was happening until it was all over – and too late to do anything).

Poorly trained and paid conscripts will almost certainly flee in the face of a massive show of force – a “shock and awe” campaign if you will. If our mercenaries launch an assault that “blasts the bunkers and guard towers to send body parts flying around, this will intimidate the survivors. Then rake the interiors of these compounds with automatic weapons fire. Following that initial display, the threat of force should suffice to achieve your objectives for the remaining time you need.”

We should attempt to secure our series of objectives as simultaneously as possible (in order to give the government forces as little time as possible to mobilize and react) and this task is best served by utilizing a helicopter (such as the Russian Mi-24 Hind we purchased above), which also serves as a force multiplier. The reason being that it has been determined that “a helicopter gunship is equivalent to 50 men as it serves as a troop transport as well as gunship.”

Now, it is impossible to give specific advice at this point, but a general announcement should be made as soon as possible along the lines of the excellent radio communiqué of Ghana’s National Liberation Council following a successful coup in 1966 which stated, “The myth surrounding Kwame N’krumah has been broken… [he] ruled the country as if it were his private property…[his] capricious handling of the country’s economic affairs …brought the country to the point of economic collapse…We intend to announce measures for curing the country’s troubles within a few days…the future is definitely bright.” Specifically, we will announce that the president is dead or has been arrested and that our chosen puppet leader is replacing him (The military really doesn’t have many options once the president and his senior chain of command are out of the picture except to fall in line – especially if their top commanders are no longer with us either). In addition we need to emphasize that law and order has been restored and that all resistance has ceased. We will reassure the citizenry that the coup is not a threat to them and, more specifically, reach out to the government bureaucracy to soothe their concerns about job stability. (Luttwak, 1979)

And utilizing the propaganda strategy planned for the Wonga Coup, the coup would have to look like a heroic local uprising – an act of nationalism and loyalty to the state. We would film the arrival of the new president, flanked by mercenaries of whichever ethnic group dominates the area, in such as way as to make them look like rebellious local soldiers – and not the remnants of an apartheid-era Special Forces unit. This footage – the only television pictures that would exist – would be released to the world’s media, buying our new regime time while it took over the institutions of state. (Roberts, 2009)

If things go wrong, we can always deny involvement as the investors in the Wonga Coup and the Nobistor affair did. We’d be out our investment, but no one said it was an investment free from risk. Consider the upside though: “You now have your own republic. You’ve now got a government that can issue visas, passports, its own currency, as well as a seat at the United Nations. It’s a massive power tool if you happen to be a businessman.” (Venter, 2006)) Sounds like a pitch for a firm seeking to raise capital by selling shares in an initial public offering, doesn’t it? And speaking of issuing things, be sure to have yourself issued a diplomatic passport after the coup so you can’t be arrested or otherwise hassled when you wish to travel.


We know a correlation exists between waves of weaponry hitting the global marketplace and political instability, particularly in developing countries. I believe we will see the same correlation unfold with the wave of mercenaries/private security contractors hitting the global marketplace. The type of coup described in my introduction was a “guardian coup” and it is this type of coup I am suggesting is increasingly likely to be seen in the future as various players seek to realize their ambitions. “What Forsyth began, Mann did not necessarily end. It seems likely that someone, one day, will try a rent-a-coup again. Most likely the target will be small and oil-rich, probably an island state with few foreign friends. It may yet be Equatorial Guinea once more. Bored buccaneers, perhaps men who tasted war in Iraq and who are looking for new places to fight in, will dream up another Wonga Coup. Some involved in this one – despite trials, prison, lost earnings and hunger – say they joined the adventure for the kicks and would be ready, given the right plan, to do it all over again.” (Roberts, 2009)

Executive Outcomes cut a wide swath across Africa. And although the company’s primary interests were in Angola and Sierra Leone, the British Defense Intelligence Staff suggested that Executive Outcomes also had “involvement,” or at least had sought contracts, widely throughout the nations of the continent, including Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Congo. It also noted the new modus operandi, which Buckingham and Mann had introduced on joining forces with Executive Outcomes. “It has secured by military means key economic installations (diamonds, oil and other mineral resources) and secured for itself substantial profits and disproportionate regional influence.” (Roberts, 2009) And the stakes were even higher in Equatorial Guinea, literally billions of barrels of oil.

As events showed us, Executive Outcomes (EO) was quite effective in tamping down violence and atrocities in places like Sierra Leone. One might wonder what EO could have accomplished in Rwanda in 1994? Would anyone care if EO had made a profit if the genocide was stopped? In reference to the question of ethics raised above, how could stopping genocide be unethical? What if EO had executed a coup to remove the current government as the most effective means of stopping the genocide? Would this behavior not fall under a mandate to stop genocide? Perhaps the future will see not just individuals leading coups, but will see a corporation launching a military coup or the creeping coup d’ etat I speculated about above.

Which leads me to my next point – Western governments may quietly get in on the act again as well. I find it hard to believe that the expensive messes in Iraq and Afghanistan will not encourage a re-evaluation of the coup d’ etat as an instrument of regime change by Western powers. The coup can be arranged with plausible deniability by the sponsoring government if anything goes wrong and is an extremely low cost affair to fund. Consider that all of the coups in the case studies above were launched with an investment of a few million dollars at most versus the hundreds of billions of dollars spent so far on Iraq and Afghanistan. Literally thousands of coup attempts could be sponsored for less than 1% of what has been spent on the direct military invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Surely, one of those thousands of attempts would succeed, would it not? And don’t forget that with a coup, a sponsoring government would not be obligated to inherit the headache of actually running the country – a perspective that might seem awfully appealing as our respective governments struggle to administer Afghanistan and get out of Iraq.

The benefits of low risk (in the form of plausible deniability) and low cost (especially when compared to conventional military operations) coupled with potentially high returns (politically or financially) seem too attractive for governments and individuals to ignore. There are just too many people out there who would prefer to see changes in leadership – with either themselves or an ally in power – to think that this trifecta of money, individual ambition and political expedience will not merge. As Edward Luttwak says, “The coup is the most frequently attempted method of changing government, and the most successful.” I believe the coup d’ etat has a very bright future indeed.


Armstrong, Stephen, 2008. War PLC. London: Faber & Faber Limited

Axe, David, 2009. Chadian Bombers Strike Sudan. [Online] (Updated 17 May 2009)

Available at: Bombers Strike Sudan

[Accessed 02 June 2009]

Berger, Sebastien, 2008. Simon Mann Should Have Listened to Frederick Forsyth

Telegraph, 18 June

Bishop, Katherine, 1986. U.S. Mercenaries Escape Brazil to Tell of Plan to Overthrow African Leader

New York Times, 27 December

Carey, Pete, 1986. Mysterious Scheme Lands 8 Americans in Brazilian Prison

San Jose Mercury News, 22 June

Carey, Pete, 1986. Mercenary Held in Brazil Discovers ‘Hell’

San Jose Mercury News, 29 October

CBC News Online. 2005. Land-locked and struggling. [Online] (Updated 10 June 2005)

Available at: [Accessed 19 June 2009]

Chittenden, Maurice, 2006. Forsyth Admits Coup Attempt

The Sunday Times, 11 June

CIA World Factbook. [online]

Available at: ... -factbook/

[Accessed 14 July 2009]

Collier, Paul, 2008. Let Us Now Praise Coups

Washington Post, 22 June

David, Steven R., 1986. Soviet Involvement in Third World Coups. International Security

[Online] Summer, Vol. 11, No. 1, p. 3-36

Available at:

[Accessed 13 June 2009].

Geraghty, Tony, 2007. Guns For Hire. London: Piatkus Books

Hassan, Mohamed, 2009. Somali Battles Rage: Fueled by Mercenaries. Associated Press

[internet] 16 May. Available at: ... wD986N9MO0

[Accessed 19 June 2009].

Hebditch, David and Connor, Ken, 2008. How to Stage a Military Coup. London: Frontline Books

Huntington, Samuel P., 1968. Political Order in Changing Societies. New Haven: Yale University Press

Kaplan, Robert D., 2009. The Revenge of Geography

Foreign Policy, May/June 2009

Lashmar, Paul, 2004. Mercenaries Aimed to Topple Oil-Rich Despot

The Independent, 14 March

Luttwak, Edward, 1979. Coup d’ Etat: A Practical Handbook. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Melson, David, 2009. Suspect Arrested in Store Robbery

Shelbyville Times-Gazette, 12 March

Nicholson, Sophie, 2007. Bob Denard: French Mercenary Behind Several Post-Colonial Coups

The Guardian, 16 October

O’ Brien, Timothy L., 2004. At Riggs Bank, a Tangled Path Led to Scandal. New York Times, [internet] 19 July.

Available at: ... ssuserland

[Accessed 16 June2009].

Pelton, Robert Young, 2007. Licensed to Kill. New York: Three Rivers Press

Polgreen, Lydia and Cowell, Alan, 2009. President of Guinea-Bissau Said to Be Killed by Soldiers

New York Times, 3 March

Roberts, Adam, 2009. The Wonga Coup. London: Profile Books

Unknown Author, 1978. A Man and His Dog. Time Magazine, [internet] 21 August

Available at: ... 09,00.html

[Accessed 17 July 2009]

Vardi, Nathan, 2009. Blackwater Down

Forbes, 15 July

Vardi, Nathan, 2009. Wall Street Goes to War

Forbes, 15 July

Venter, Al J., 2006. War Dog. Philadelphia: Casemate

Walt, Stephen M., 2009. Imbalance of Power

Foreign Policy, May/June 2009

Please contact me privately if you are interested in initiating a coup d’ etat and wish to consult me for details.
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby coldharvest » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:19 pm

Please contact me privately if you are interested in initiating a coup d’ etat and wish to consult me for details.

Well folks, there it who should we topple?
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby Penta » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:39 pm

Shes never interfered with me. I have no complaints about her.
Same here.
Mega ditto.
I met her once and I found her to be a nice lady. Not kookey in any way.
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby Dr. V » Mon Nov 16, 2009 3:45 pm

you missed the most interesting everso modest bits ....

I embrace anything that can be construed as an adventure. I’m a sucker for camo. I want to hike the John Muir Trail and visit Moldova, Somalia and Guyana. I try to find humor in everything. I prefer cold weather to hot weather. I love watching displays of excess. I used to work for an investment bank in the City. I can be inconsistent, but I’m not a flake. I want to get a picture in a Patagonia catalog and meet Peter Thiel. I try not to take myself seriously at all. I love speed (the Porsche kind, not the chemical kind). I can speak knowledgeably about wavelength division multiplexing or Napoleon’s campaign across Europe. I’m a damn good shot. I like classic French literature. I can fly an airplane or ride a motorcycle. I enjoy comedy shows. I was voted “Most likely to win the Indy 500″ by my graduating class in high school. I travel a lot, but I always want to travel more. I believe in an ambitious space program, conservation and maintaining a high savings rate. It’s almost impossible to embarrass me, so don’t bother trying.


I am always trying to live life at a more intense level, taking second or even third helpings on food, alcohol, sex and money, trying to live a whole life in one day. I want to devour everything – parties, people, magazines, books, music, art, movies and television. I imagine myself chewing on sidewalks and buildings, swallowing sunlight and clouds. I want to go to Machu Pichu, Madagascar, Manitoba, Burundi, Benin and Boise. (Burundi wins – I absolutely need to watch… CNN coverage isn’t good enough for me). When things quiet down in the slightest, it’s hard to lie in bed knowing that someone is drinking a margarita poolside at a hotel in Miami, driving 100 miles per hour down the Pacific Coast Highway or fucking at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. I have to get out and consume. Those are the nights I might end up driving to the nearest airport and boarding a random flight. Once I found myself in Vancouver, once in Miami (It’s better to be in Vancouver). I want to be a writer, a model, a scientist, a surgeon and an astronaut. My mind consumes information at a violent rate. My name is Justin Ames and I have no idea what I want to do with my life.
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby RYP » Mon Nov 16, 2009 5:24 pm

"I want to go to...Manitoba..."

poor fucker.... he shoulda just stuck to "long walks on the beach, puppy dogs, a buttery Chardonay and watching Bridget Jones in my jammies"
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby bearanddragon » Mon Nov 16, 2009 6:12 pm

I skimmed this while drinking my morning coffee. The last section where he outlines his plan is hilarious and recommended reading if you're bored.

Here is his outline of his magnificent plan, summarized for ease. If I weren't so awestruck by it, I'd recommend a few Army field manual "Violent Coups" which will be mostly based on this guy's paper.

First off, a coup needs weaponry. Obtaining the sort of firepower one needs for a coup might seem like a daunting task. However, I assure you that it is not.

For our hypothetical coup, I would select two attack helicopters (such as the Russian Mi-24 Hind offered by the military in Belarus) and an assortment of heavy machine guns (7.62 mm up to .50 caliber), handheld anti-armor rockets, fragmentation grenades and light assault weapons such as AK-47s or Heckler & Koch MP5s.

Now, what about staffing our hypothetical coup team? Simon Mann had no trouble at all rounding up volunteers from the former 32 Battalion (discussed above). And according to Robert Young Pelton, in his book Licensed to Kill, no one else would either.

lol, guess you get a shoutout RYP

Whether the issue is Cuba, Darfur, the Middle East, Armenia, arms control, trade, population, human rights, climate policy, or what have you, there is bound to be some group pressing Washington to focus more energy and attention on their particular pet issue. And with 535 Congresspersons to choose from, there’s a good chance you can find at least one to promote your agenda on the Hill.

Climate policy, actually, is the real reason I'd take up arms against a poor Central African country.

Intelligence gathering and reconnaissance are vital once we have chosen our target because we must determine how many guards are defending sites of interest to us, avenues of approach we or they will utilize, where reinforcements will likely arrive from, etc.


Aside from visiting locations in person, one can utilize satellite images from Google Maps for analysis...I could easily combine the satellite imagery from Google with my pictures taken in person and develop a solid plan of attack...A ship would be absolutely ideal for this. A ship could also comfortably house our two attack helicopters until we were ready to launch them into action. The ocean is ideal for target practice, getting your weapons battle-ready, perhaps removing manufacturer’s grease and that sort of thing

the ocean is actually THE best place to do this

For a variety of obvious reasons, one cannot just purchase tickets to whichever capital we wish to seize and board an airline with a team of mercenaries weighed down with heavy weaponry..

Poorly trained and paid conscripts will almost certainly flee in the face of a massive show of force – a “shock and awe” campaign if you will. If our mercenaries launch an assault that “blasts the bunkers and guard towers to send body parts flying around, this will intimidate the survivors. We should attempt to secure our series of objectives as simultaneously as possible (in order to give the government forces as little time as possible to mobilize and react) and this task is best served by utilizing a helicopter (such as the Russian Mi-24 Hind we purchased above), which also serves as a force multiplier. The reason being that it has been determined that “a helicopter gunship is equivalent to 50 men as it serves as a troop transport as well as gunship.”
You paying attention? I'm talking... G5, Pecker! That's how you can roll. No more frequent flyer bitch miles for my boy! Oh yeah! Playa... playa! Big dick playa!
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Gen. Y has too many 'future world leaders'

Postby Zero » Tue Nov 17, 2009 1:17 am

He isn't the first to write something like this.

"The Atlantic Monthly" 31 May, 1860 offers a description of one such individual unlucky enough to be born into a political climate which allowed him to attempt to cash the checks his mouth wrote with his ass: ... -18603.php It's worth reading in full, but for the purposes of this thread, it may be worth skipping the account of the trial, and going straight to the account of the goatfuck.


In November, 1805, a good-looking foreigner, gentlemanlike in dress
and in manner, and apparently fifty years of age, arrived in New York
from England, and took lodgings at Mrs. Avery's, State Street. He
called himself George Martin; but this incognito was intended only for
the vulgar. Some of the principal citizens of New York, who recollected
his first visit to this country twenty years before, knew him as Don
Francisco de Miranda of Caracas, one of the most distinguished
adventurers of that revolutionary era,--a favorite of the Empress of
Russia, a friend of Mr. Pitt, and second in command under Dumouriez in
the Belgian campaign of 1793. To these gentlemen he avowed that for
many years he had meditated the independence of the Spanish-American
Colonies, and meant to make an attempt to carry out his plans. On
Evacuation Day, a New York festival, which is now nearly worn out, they
invited him to a Corporation dinner, as a foreign officer of rank, and
toasted him, wishing him the same success in South America that we had
had here. He then went to Washington, under the name of Molini. There,
as everywhere, he was received by the best society as General Miranda.
The President and the Secretary of State, Mr. Madison, granted him
several private interviews. In January he returned to New York,--and on
the 2d of February departed thence mysteriously in the Leander, a ship
belonging to Mr. Samuel G. Ogden, merchant.

While the Leander lay at anchor off Staten Island, a gentleman notified
the Naval Officer of the Port, that large quantities of arms and
ammunition had been taken on board of her in boats, at night. He was
informed in return, that the Leander was cleared for Jacquemel, and
that no law existed to prevent her from sailing. No other attempt was
made to detain her; but a few weeks later, rumors affecting the
character of the ship broke out in a more decided form. It was
generally believed at the Tontine Coffee-House that the Leander had
been fitted out by Miranda to attack the Spanish possessions in the
West India Islands or on the Main. And yet the New York journals took
no notice of her until the 21st of February, nineteen days after she
sailed. In the mean time the Marquis Yrujo, backed by the French
Ambassador, had made a formal complaint to Government, and had caused
the insertion in the "Philadelphia Gazette" of a series of
interrogatories to Mr. Madison, which indirectly accused the
Administration of encouraging Miranda's preparations, or at least of
conniving at the expedition. This perverse Marquis, who gave Mr.
Jefferson a taste of the annoyance which Genet, Adet, and Fauchet had
inflicted upon the previous administrations, was clamorous and
persisting. The authorities in Washington thought it proper to order
the arrest of Mr. Ogden, and of Colonel William Smith, son-in-law of
John Adams and Surveyor of the Port of New York, under the Act of 1794.
The prisoners were taken before Judge Tallmadge of the United States
District Court. They were refused counsel, and were forced by threats
of imprisonment to submit to a searching examination. They were then
held to bail, both as principals and witnesses, in the sum of twenty
thousand dollars. Soon after, the President removed Colonel Smith from
his office.

Such a waste of editorial raw-material appears very singular to
newspaper-readers of the present day, accustomed as they are to see in
print everything that has happened or that might have happened; but we
must recollect that our grandfathers found the excitement necessary to
civilized man in party politics, national and local. This game they
played with a fierce eagerness which is now limited to a small class of
inferior men.

To the violence and personal spitefulness of their newspaper articles
we have fortunately nothing comparable, even in the speeches of
Honorable Members on Helper and John Brown. The "_Tu quoque_" and the
"_Vos damnamini_" were their favorite logical processes, and "Fool" and
"Liar" the simple and conclusive arguments with which they established
a principle. Not that these ancients suffered at all from a lack of
stirring news. Bonaparte's wonderful campaigns, (Austerlitz had just
been heard of in New York,) the outrages on our sailors by English
cruisers, our merchantmen plundered by French and Spanish privateers,
the irritating behavior of the Dons in Louisiana, kept them abundantly
supplied with this staff of mental life. But they did not care much for
news in the abstract as news, unless they could work it up into
political ammunition and discharge it at each other's heads. We must
not forget, too, that newspaper-editing, the "California of the
spiritually vagabond," as Carlyle calls it, was a recent discovery, and
that the rich mine was but surface-worked. "Our own Reporter" was, like
Milton's original lion, only half unearthed; and deep hidden from
mortal eyes as yet lay the sensation-items-man, who has made the
last-dying-speech-and-confession style of literature the principal
element of our daily press.

At last the Federal editors gave tongue. It was high time; the town was
in an uproar. They perceived that Miranda might become a useful ally
against Mr. T. Jefferson. His expedition came opportunely, as the
Mammoth Cheese and Black Sally were beginning to grow stale. Mr. Lang
opened the cry in the "New York Gazette" by asserting the complicity of
Government, on the authority of a "gentleman of the first
respectability,"--meaning Mr. Rufus King.--Cheetham, of the "Citizen,"
barked back at Lang, a would-be "Solomon," "a foul and abominable
slanderer." Mr. King, he could prove, had been examined, and had
nothing to reveal.--Tom Paine wrote to the "Citizen" to mention that he
had known Miranda in New York in 1783 and in Paris in 1793. Mr.
Littlepage of Virginia, Chamberlain to the King of Poland, had then
informed him that the Empress Catharine had given Miranda four thousand
pounds "as a retaining fee," and that Mr. Pitt had also paid him twelve
hundred pounds for his services in the Nootka Sound business.--All the
Federal papers charged the Government with connivance. You knew the
destination of the Leander; you did not prevent her from sailing; you
nourished the offence until it attained maturity, and then, after
permitting the principals to go upon this expedition, you seize upon
the accessories who remain at home. And in how shameful and illegal a
way! You examine them before a single judge, with no counsel to advise
them. You force them to criminate themselves, and to sign their
confessions, by the threat of imprisonment; and you punish Colonel
Smith before you have tried him, by depriving him of his office. Why,
such a proceeding is worse than any "Inquisitorial Tribunal" or
"Star-Chamber Court."--Nonsense! answered the Democrats. Ogden's and
Smith's testimony does not implicate the Government in the least. It
only proves that Smith has been the dupe of Miranda. The President knew
nothing about the matter. If the object of the Leander's outfit was so
generally spoken of, why did it escape the notice of the Marquis Yrujo?
Why did he not demand her seizure before she sailed? This charge
against the Government is a mere Federal trick. Your friends, the
British, are at the bottom of the expedition, and they have artfully
employed Rufus King, a Federal chief, to throw the blame upon the
Executive of the United States. By ascribing to those who administer
the government the atrocities committed by Transatlantic rulers, you
aim a deadly blow at the character of our system; and your conduct,
base in any view we can take of it, is particularly reprehensible in
the delicate state of our relations with Spain.

Mr. Cadwallader Golden, of counsel for the defendants, made a motion
before Judge Tallmadge for an order to prevent the District Attorney
from using the preliminary evidence taken at the private examinations.
"It was a proceeding," he said, "arbitrary and subversive of the first
principles of law and liberty,"--"which would have disgraced the reign
of Charles and stained the character of Jeffries." The District
Attorney was heard in opposition, and was successful.

On the 7th of April, the Grand Jury found a bill against Smith, Ogden,
Miranda, and Thomas Lewis, captain of the Leander, for "setting on foot
and beginning with force and arms a certain military enterprise or
expedition, to be carried on from the United States against the
dominions of a foreign prince: to wit, the dominions of the King of
Spain; the said King of Spain then and there being at peace with the
United States." The Grand Jury, as an evidence of their impartiality,
or of the public feeling, also handed the Judge a presentment of
himself, which he put into his pocket, censuring his conduct in the
private examinations, because "unusual, oppressive, and contrary to

The trial was set down for the 14th of July. Messrs. Ogden and Smith
did not wait so long for a hearing. They laid their case at once before
the public, in two memorials addressed to Congress, complaining
bitterly of the prosecution, not to say persecution, instituted against
them by the authorities in Washington, and of the cruel and oppressive
measures taken by Judge Tallmadge to carry out the mandates of his
superiors. If they had done wrong, they urged, it was innocently. A war
with Spain was imminent. The critical position of the Louisiana
Boundary question, the President's Message of the 6th of December, and
the documents accompanying it, left no doubts on that point. Were they
not right, then, in supposing, that, under these circumstances, the
President would encourage an expedition against the colonies of a
hostile power? As evidence of Mr. Jefferson's knowledge of Miranda's
schemes, they stated that the General had brought with him from England
a letter to "a gentleman of the first consequence in New York," (Mr.
King,) which contained a sketch of his project: this letter was
forwarded to the Secretary of State and laid before the President by
him. Miranda then went to Washington, saw the President and the
Secretary, and wrote to the memorialists that he had fully unfolded his
plans to both. In the course of a long conversation with Mr. Madison,
he asked for pecuniary assistance and for open encouragement, on the
ground that individuals might not be willing to join in the enterprise,
if Government did not approve it,--particularly as a bill was then
before Congress to prohibit the exportation of arms. He also requested
leave of absence for Colonel Smith, who wished to accompany him. Mr.
Madison answered, that the sentiments of the President could not be
doubted, but that the Government of the United States could afford no
assistance of any kind. Private individuals were at liberty to act as
they pleased, provided they did not violate the laws; and New York
merchants would always advance money, if they saw their advantage in
it. As to the bill Miranda had spoken of, it was unlikely that it would
pass,--and, in fact, it did not. It was impossible, Mr. Madison added,
to grant leave of absence to Colonel Smith, although he thought him
better fitted for military employment than for the custom-house. He
closed the interview by recommending the greatest discretion.

Miranda, continued the memorialists, remained fourteen days in
Washington after this conversation, and returned to New York confident
of the silent approval of Government. Eleven days before the Leander
sailed, he sent a letter to Mr. Madison, inclosing another to Mr.
Jefferson, both of which he read to Ogden and to Smith. He assured Mr.
Madison that he had conformed in every way to the intentions of
Government, and requested him to keep the secret. To Mr. Jefferson he
wrote in a strain more fashionable ten years before than then, but well
adapted to the sentimentality, both scientific and political, of the
"Philosophic President." Here it is:--

"I have the honor to send you, inclosed, the 'Natural and Civil History
of Chili,' of which we conversed at Washington,--and in which you will,
perhaps, find more than in those which have been before published on
the same subject, concerning this beautiful country.

"If ever the happy prediction, which you have pronounced on the future
destiny of our dear Columbia, is to be accomplished in our day, may
Providence grant that it may be under your auspices, and by the
generous efforts of her own children! We shall then, in some sort,
behold the revival of that age, the return of which the Roman bard
invoked in favor of the human race:--

"'The last great age foretold by sacred rhymes
Renews its finished course; Saturnian times
Roll round again; and mighty years, begun
From this first orb, in radiant circles run.'"

On Miranda's reports, these letters, and the fact that the Leander had
not been seized, they rested their case, and prayed for the
interference of Congress in their behalf.

Congress unanimously granted the petitioners leave to withdraw. Such
evidence as this, not only hearsay, but heard from the party most
interested in misrepresenting the Administration, was not entitled to
much consideration. It had, moreover, the additional disadvantage of
proving nothing against the President and Secretary, even if every word
of it were admitted as true.

Public attention was diverted from the Leander, Captain Lewis, to the
Leander, Captain Whitby. This English frigate was cruising off Sandy
Hook, bringing to inward and outward bound vessels, searching them for
articles contraband of war, and helping herself to able-bodied seamen
who looked like British subjects. All of which was meekly submitted to
in 1806. Mr. Jefferson could not overcome his doubts as to the
constitutionality of a fleet, and the Opposition had the twofold
pleasure of chuckling over the insults offered by John Bull to a
government with French proclivities, and of reproaching the party in
power with its supineness and want of spirit.

But the accident of the 25th of April brought the American people to a
proper sense of their situation, for the moment. On that day, His
British Majesty's ship Leander fired a round-shot into the sloop
Richard, bound to New York, and killed the man at the helm, John
Pierce. The body was brought to the city and borne through the
principal streets, in the midst of universal excitement, anger, and
cries for vengeance. Black streamers were displayed from the houses;
shops were closed; the newspapers appeared in mourning. A public
funeral was attended by the whole population. Captain Whitby was
indicted for murder, and took care to keep out of the reach of United
States law-officers. This homicide happened just in time for the May
election in New York. Both parties attempted to make use of it. The
Federalists proclaimed that the blood of Pierce was on the head of
Jefferson and his followers. These retorted, that the English pirates
were the friends and comrades of the Federalists. Cheetham had seen the
first lieutenant of the Leander, disguised, in company with eight or
ten of them, some days after the murder!!! And the Democratic
Republicans, as was and is still usual, had a majority at the polls.

From time to time short paragraphs appeared in the papers, advertising
Miranda's success. "His flag was flying on every fort from Cumana to
Laguayra." "The whole of this fine country may be considered as lost to
Spain." Then came tidings of sadder complexion. He had been beaten off
with the loss of forty men, taken prisoners. The Spaniards had
threatened to hang them as pirates, but they would not dare to do it.
The British had furnished Miranda with forty Spanish prisoners, as
hostages, "to avenge the threatened insult to the feelings of every
friend to the rights of self-government in every part of the world." At
last, news arrived from the Gulf which left Miranda's failure in his
first attempt to land no longer doubtful. This, of course, made the
position of Ogden and Smith more dangerous, and their case more difficult
to manage.

When the trial of Colonel Smith came on, public interest revived, and
became stronger than before. The court-room was crowded by intelligent
spectators during the whole course of the proceedings, The case was
peculiar, and had almost a dramatic interest. Here was a Government
prosecution against a man well known in the community, for an offence
new to our courts; and the heads of that Government, Jefferson and
Madison, were indirectly on trial at the same time:--"For, if Smith and
Ogden are acquitted," said the Federal papers, "then must the whole
guilt rest on the Administration." Apart from the political interest of
the trial, the eminence of the counsel employed would have commanded an
audience anywhere. Never, since New York has had courts of justice,
have so many distinguished lawyers adorned and dignified her bar as in
the first twenty years of this century. In this case, nearly all of the
leaders were retained: Nathan Sandford, District Attorney, and
Pierrepoint Edwards, for the prosecution; for the defence, Cadwallader
Colden, Josiah Ogden Hoffman, Thomas Addis Emmet, Richard Harrison, and
Washington Morton.[*]

[Footnote *: Judge Patterson, of the United States Court, occupied the
bench with Judge Tallmadge, until ill-health obliged him to withdraw.
He died soon after.]

Mr. Colden handed the Clerk a list of his witnesses, and requested him
to call their names. Among them were those of Madison, Dearborn,
Gallatin, Granger, and Robert Smith, all members of the Government. He
then read the affidavit of service of subpoenas upon them on the 25th
of May, and, inasmuch as these gentlemen had not obeyed the subpoena,
and as Colonel Smith could not safely proceed to trial without their
testimony, he moved that an attachment issue against them.

The District Attorney opposed the motion, on the ground that the
testimony of these witnesses could not possibly be of any use to the
defendant. None of them were present in New York when the Leander was
fitted out. And even if it could be shown by these witnesses that the
Administration had approved of this illegal expedition, it would not
help the defendant. This is a country governed by laws, and not by
arbitrary edicts. If Colonel Smith had violated these laws, he had
rendered himself liable to punishment. He could not escape by making
the President a _particeps criminis_. An amusing letter was read from
Madison, Dearborn, and Smith, which stated, "that the President, taking
into view the state of our public affairs, has specially signified to
us that our official duties cannot consistently therewith be at this
juncture dispensed with." They suggested that a commission should issue
for the purpose of taking their respective testimonies.

Colden insisted that this was an attempt of the Executive to interfere
with the Judiciary, which ought not to be tolerated. Counsel in
criminal cases had always the right to stand face to face with
witnesses. It was outrageous that the President should first approve of
the conduct of Colonel Smith, then order a prosecution against him and
forbid his witnesses to attend the trial.

The Court refused to grant an attachment. And later in the trial, when
the defence offered Rufus King to prove the President's knowledge and
approbation of the enterprise, the Court decided against the admission
of the evidence.

The history of the expedition in New York, as shown by the testimony,
was briefly this:--Colonel Smith introduced Miranda to Ogden; and Ogden
agreed to furnish his armed ship Leander, and to load her with the
necessary provisions, stores, arms, and ammunition. He estimated his
expenditure at seventy thousand dollars. Miranda had brought with him
from London a bill of exchange on New York for eight hundred pounds,
which had been paid, and had drawn bills on England and on Trinidad for
seven thousand pounds, which had not been paid. This was all that Ogden
had received. But if the enterprise were successful, he was to be paid
two hundred per cent, advance on the ship and cargo. Smith had engaged
fifteen or twenty officers, without informing them of the object of the
expedition, but expressly stipulating in writing that they would not be
employed against England or France, and giving them a general verbal
assurance that they would speedily make their fortunes. In this he was
sincere, for he took his son from college and sent him with Miranda.
Smith had employed John Fink, a Bowery butcher, to engage men who could
serve on horseback. Fink enlisted twenty-three at fifteen dollars a
month, and fifteen more as a bounty. They were not to be taken out of
the territory of the United States. Some of them were told that the
President was raising a mounted guard; others, that they were to guard
the mail from Washington to New Orleans. One of Fink's papers was shown
on the trial, indorsed, "Muster-Roll for the President's Guard." Smith
had furnished the bounty-money, but it did not appear that he had
authorized these misrepresentations of Fink, who developed a talent in
this business which forty years later would have made his fortune as an
emigrant-runner. Abundant proofs of the purchase of military clothing,
arms, powder, shot, and cannon were produced.

The Counsel for Colonel Smith, unable to get the connivance of the
Administration before the Jury in the shape of evidence, coolly assumed
it as established, and urged it in defence of their client. They used
his memorial to Congress as their brief, enlarged upon the arbitrary
conduct of the Judge in the examinations and upon the tyrannical
interference of the President with their witnesses. As Mr. Emmet
cleverly and classically remarked, quoting from Tacitus's description
of the funeral of Junia, "Perhaps their very absence rendered them more
decided witnesses in our favor." They also maintained that the Act of
1794, under which the prisoner was indicted, did not prohibit an
enterprise of this character. Even if it did, no proof existed that
this expedition was organized in New York. On the contrary, it was
known that Miranda had gone hence to Jacquemel, and had made his
preparations there, in a port out of our jurisdiction.

This point made, they boldly went a step farther, and declared that the
United States were actually at war with Spain. The affair of the
Kempers, and of Flanagan in Louisiana, the obstruction of the Mobile
Kiver, the depredations upon our commerce by Spanish privateers, were
sufficient proof of a state of war. We had a right to meet force by
force. The President must have been of this opinion, else he could not
have violated his trust by authorizing this expedition.

The case for the defence, considered in a logical point of view, was
desperate; but no case is desperate before a Jury; and when Mr. Colden,
Mr. Hoffman, and Mr. Emmet had each in his own peculiar mode of
eloquence appealed to the Jury to protect their client, already
punished by removal from his place, without a trial or even a hearing,
for an offence committed with, the sanction of his superior
officers,--when they compared this State prosecution to the attempts
made by despotic European governments to crush innocent men by the
machinery of law, and asserted that it was instituted solely to gratify
the malice of the King of Spain, a bitter enemy to the United
States,--and when they enlarged upon the grandeur of an undertaking to
give liberty to the down-trodden victims of Colonial tyranny, comparing
Miranda and his friends to our own Revolutionary heroes, there could be
but little doubt of the verdict. But there was an uneasy feeling after
the District Attorney had closed. He demolished with ease the arguments
of the other side, for not one of them had sufficient strength to stand
alone. Smith's perpetual excuse, that he had been led astray by the
belief of connivance in Washington, was preposterous. If he had been
anxious to know the sentiments of Government on the subject, he might
at any time within six days have ascertained whether Miranda told him
truth or not. He spoke of the cruelty and reckless folly of all such
attempts upon a neighboring people; asked the Jury how they would like
to see an armed force landed upon our shores to take part with one or
the other of the great political parties; and closed with a few strong
words, as true at this day as then:--"If you acquit the defendant, you
say to the world that the United States have renounced the law of
nations,--that they permit their citizens not only to violate their own
laws with impunity, but to invade the people of other countries with
hostile force in a time of peace, as avarice, ambition, or the thought
of plunder may dictate. Such a decision would justify the acts of the
pirate on the ocean, and would sink our national character to the
barbarism of savage tribes."

The Jury were out two hours, and brought in a verdict of not guilty,
which gave great satisfaction to Federal editors. A few days afterward,
Mr. Ogden was acquitted.[1]

[Footnote 1: Mr. Jefferson, after the expiration of his second term,
wrote to Don Valentino de Fornonda as follows:--

"Your predecessor [Yrujo] wished it to be believed that we were in
unjustifiable cooeperation in Miranda's expedition.

"I solemnly and on my personal truth and honor declare to you that this
was entirely without foundation, and that there was neither cooeperation
nor connivance on our part. He informed us he was about to attempt the
liberation of his native country from bondage, and intimated a hope of
our aid, or connivance at least. He was at once informed, that, though
we had great cause of complaint against Spain, and even of war, yet,
whenever we should think proper to act as her enemy, it should be
openly and aboveboard, and that our hostility should never be exercised
by such petty means. We had no suspicion that he expected to engage men
here, but merely to purchase military stores. Against this there was no
law, nor, consequently, any authority for us to interpose. On the other
hand, we deemed it improper to betray his voluntary communication to
the agents of Spain. Although his measures were many days in
preparation at New York, we never had the least intimation or suspicion
of his engaging men in his enterprise until he was gone; and I presume
that the secrecy of his proceedings kept them equally unknown to the
Marquis Yrujo and to the Spanish Consul at New York, since neither of
them gave us any information of the enlistment of men until it was too
late for any measures taken at Washington to prevent their departure."]

This is a brief account of the first filibuster-trial in the United
States. Other heroes of this profession, compared with whom Smith and
Ogden were spotless, have since come before our courts only to be
turned loose upon the world again. No other result is to be
anticipated. It is an established principle with our fellow-citizens,
that no man is happy, or ought to be, who lives under any other system
of government than our own. Let a lawyer pronounce the magic formula,
"Liberty to the oppressed," or "Free institutions to the victims of
despotism," and, _presto!_--rascality is metamorphosed into merit.
After all, it makes such a difference, when it is only our neighbor's
ox that is gored!

Here closed the first act of the expedition. Colonel Smith lost his
office, and Mr. Ogden stopped payment. The passengers by the Leander
fared worse. There were two hundred men on board: one hundred and
twenty belonged to the ship; the others had been engaged by Smith and
his agent Fink as officers, dragoons, printers, and armorers. With the
exception of two or three, none of them had seen their commander or
knew their destination. The officers, all gentlemen "of crooked
fortunes," supposed that they were sailing to enlarge the area of
freedom somewhere in America; but what particular region of the Spanish
dominions was to be subjected to this wholesome treatment they neither
knew nor cared, provided they could improve their own financial
condition. Both officers and privates were for the most part
serviceable, steady men, worthy of a more efficient leader.

On the 12th of February, they were overhauled and searched by H.B.M.
ship Cleopatra. Nineteen men with American protections were carried off
in the frigate's boat, and twelve native Americans taken out of prizes
sent back to replace them. The Leander's papers were examined and
pronounced unsatisfactory. Miranda was obliged to go on board the
Cleopatra, where he had a long private conversation with the captain.
He returned with full liberty to proceed, and with a written pass to
prevent detention or search by British cruisers. This adventure was
made to give an air of respectability to the enterprise; and Miranda
hinted to his suite that the English captain had promised to join him
with his frigate. A day or two later, the Leander took other airs upon
herself. Meeting a small Spanish schooner, laden with logwood, off the
Haytian coast, Lewis fired into her, and ordered the captain on board
with his papers, for the mere pleasure of exercising power. The
Spaniard, as soon as he got back to his own craft, made the best of his
way home and gave the first alarm.

On the 18th of February, they cast anchor at Jacquemel. Lewis went
immediately to Port au-Prince, to engage the Emperor, a ship commanded
by his brother, to join the expedition. Miranda remained behind to
organize his followers. He at last announced to them that he intended
to land near Caracas; the whole country would rise at his name; his
brave Americans would form the nucleus and the heart of a great army;
there was no Spanish force in the province to resist him. In a general
order, "Parole, America; Countersign, Liberty," he assigned to his
officers their rank in the Columbian army, distributing them into the
Engineers, Artillery, Dragoons, Riflemen, and Foot. Another general
order, "Parole, Warren; Countersign, Bunker's Hill," fixed the uniforms
of the different corps,--to be distinguished by blue, yellow, or green
facings. All hands were set to work upon the crowded deck. Printers
struck off proclamations and blank commissions in the name of "Don
Francisco de Miranda, Commander-in-Chief of the Columbian Army";
carpenters made pike-handles; armorers repaired the arms bought in New
York; (they had cost little, and were worth less;) the regimental
tailor and his disciples stitched the gay facings upon the new
uniforms; files of awkward fellows were put through the manual exercise
by an old drill-sergeant; and the young gentlemen officers read
diligently in treatises on war, or listened to the discourses of their
general upon the noble art. In the midst of this stir of preparation,
Lewis returned unsuccessful, without the ship Emperor; but Miranda
seemed in no hurry to depart. He continued his lectures and his
drilling until the 28th of March. At last he hoisted the new Columbian
flag,--a tricolor, blue, yellow, and red,--fired a grand salute, and
stood gallantly out of the harbor, where he had wasted six precious

Captain Lewis had chartered at Port-au-Prince the Bee, a small, unarmed
schooner, and had bought the Bacchus, a vessel of the same class, last
from Laguayra, whose captain and men disappeared mysteriously after
their arrival at Jacquemel. Some of the Leander's hands volunteered for
the schooners, to get out of the crowded ship; others were forced on
board, to make up a crew. The little fleet steered for Bonair, but,
through the ignorance of their pilot, or of their captain, found
themselves, after a ten-days' cruise, seventy miles to leeward, off the
Gulf of Venezuela. The Leander was a dull sailer; and, with the wind
and current against her, it took them four days to beat up to the
Island of Aruba, and seven more to reach Bonair. On the evening of the
27th of April, they were lying to off Puerto Cabello, preparing to
land, and sure of success, when they made out two Spanish
_guardacostas_ close in shore, beating up to windward. Miranda thought
them unworthy of attention, and gave the order to stand in. But the
pilot mistook the landmarks, owing to the darkness, and missed the
point agreed upon for landing. The Bacchus was sent in to reconnoitre
and did not return, although signals of recall were repeated throughout
the night. About midnight signals were noticed passing between the fort
at Puerto Cabello and the _guardacostas_; Captain Lewis beat to
quarters, and kept his men at their guns until morning. At daybreak the
Bacchus was seen close in shore, carrying a press of sail and closely
pursued by the Spanish vessels. The Leander bore down with a flowing
sheet upon the enemy, fired a few ineffective shot, and then, for some
reason best known to her captain, or to Miranda, hauled on to the wind,
and sailed away, leaving the schooners to take care of themselves. The
_guardacostas_ soon took possession of both, and carried their prizes,
with sixty prisoners, into Puerto Cabello,[1] before the eyes of their
astonished and indignant comrades, who could not understand such a want
of courage or conduct on the part of their chief.

[Footnote 1: The unfortunate men taken in the schooners were tried at
Puerto Cabello for piracy. Ten officers were hanged, their heads cut
off and stuck upon poles, and six of them sent to Caracas, two to
Laguayra, and two set up at Puerto Cabello. The other prisoners were
sentenced to the chain-gang. The execution took place on the 21st of
July, the day before Smith was acquitted in New York.]

After this disaster, the Leander sailed for Bonair for water. Miranda
still assumed a confident tone, and called a council of war to
deliberate whether they should attempt a landing at Coro. The council
decided, that, in view of the loss they had sustained, it would be
advisable to make for Trinidad in search of reinforcements. With wind
and tide against them, and a slow ship, the voyage was long. They were
reduced to their last barrel of bread, when they fell in with the
English sloop-of-war Lily, Captain Campbell, who was looking for
Miranda, and who sent supplies of all kinds on board. On the 6th of
June, they ran into Bridgetown, Barbadoes. Admiral Cochrane, who
commanded on that station, gave Miranda every assistance in his power,
and offered to put some of his smaller vessels under his orders, upon
condition that all goods imported into the new state of Columbia in
British bottoms should be assessed ten per cent, lower than the
products of any other nation, except the United States. Miranda signed
a formal agreement to this effect, and sailed for Trinidad, accompanied
by H.B.M. ships Lily and Express, and the Trimmer, a transport
schooner. Captain Lewis, whose repeated quarrels with Miranda had
affected the discipline of the force, resigned at Barbadoes. He was
succeeded by Captain Johnson, a daring fellow, who risked and lost life
and property in this expedition.

The Governor of Trinidad, like all the English of the Gulf, was well
disposed to aid in an attack on the Spanish Provinces. Eighty
volunteers of all nations, most of them worthless fellows and
candidates for a commission, joined the fleet at this place. Miranda
was once more in high spirits. His army amounted to four hundred men,
and he had secured the cooperation of the English. Success seemed
certain. He issued a new proclamation to his followers, headed "To
Victory and Wealth," and set sail, accompanied by seven small British
war-vessels and three transports.

On the 2d of August, the fleet anchored within nine miles of La Vela de
Coro. The next day two hundred and ninety men were landed in the boats
of the squadron. They were all "Mirandanians," the English furnishing
only the means of transportation and the necessary supplies. As the
boats approached the shore, they were fired upon from the bushes which
lined the beach. The Columbians jumped into the water and charged; the
Spaniards retreated to a fort near the shore. This was carried, sword
in hand,--the Spaniards leaping from the walls and flying in all
directions. Miranda then formed his party, and marched to the town, a
quarter of a mile distant, which was evacuated by the Spaniards with
such precipitation that they left their cannon loaded. The inhabitants
had fled, as well as the military, carrying off all their movable
property. The Columbian colors were hoisted, flags of truce sent in all
directions, the printed proclamations distributed about the neighboring
country; but in vain; nobody appeared.

The same evening the Liberators marched twelve miles in a northwesterly
direction to Coro. They arrived an hour before dawn, and found the town
silent and deserted. Dividing themselves into two parties, they entered
cautiously on opposite sides, for fear of an ambuscade,--but,
unfortunately, when the detachments met in the Grand Plaza, they
mistook each other, in the dusk of the morning, for the enemy, and
fired. Miranda's most efficient officer fell, shot through both thighs.
One man was killed, and seven others badly wounded. Not a soul was
found in the place, except those who were too old or too ill to move,
and the occupants of the prison. The jailer presented himself,
surrendered his keys, and informed the General that the Governor had
forced the citizens to leave their homes. Miranda remained in the
deserted town for five days, endeavoring, by the most alluring
proclamations, to bring the inhabitants back. But it was useless. Not a
man presented himself. He then lost heart, and, instead of advancing
into the country, ordered a retreat to La Vela, and reembarked on the

Those he left behind in the Leander had been still more unfortunate.
Captain Johnson had gone in the boats to a river three or four miles to
the eastward, for water, and, while filling his casks, was set upon by
a party of Spanish soldiers. He was killed, fighting bravely, with
fifteen of his men. The remainder escaped with difficulty.

The discomfited invaders sailed for the Island of Aruba, where their
English allies, pretty well satisfied that nothing could be done with
this expedition, left them. Miranda landed his men and took formal
possession of the island. He sent an ambassador to the Governor of the
neighboring island of Curacoa, requesting him to surrender. This
request was declined. He was equally unsuccessful in a mission to
Jamaica, begging for assistance from Admiral Dacres. Dacres refused, on
the ground that he had no orders from his Government.

Miranda remained at Aruba, drilling, issuing proclamations, and holding
courts martial, until the want of provisions brought the enterprise to
an end. An English ship-of-war, which touched at the island, offered
him a safe means of escape. On the 29th of October, after a passage of
twenty-five days, the Liberators arrived at Trinidad, and disbanded in
disgrace. The blue and yellow uniforms they had worn with pride, as
"Columbians," on their last visit, were hastily laid aside to escape
the scoff of the rabble, who jeered them as adventurers and
merry-andrews. Miranda kept out of sight until he could get the
opportunity of a passage to England. All his followers who could find
means to quit the island made their way home as best they could. To
conclude the business, the Leander was sold by order of the courts, and
the few poor fellows who had remained by her received a small share of
the proceeds. Nobody else was paid the smallest fraction of the sums
the General had so liberally promised.

That a commander, safely landed with three hundred fighting men, in
possession of Coro, whose peninsular situation might have afforded him
an inexpugnable position, master of the sea, and backed by an English
fleet, should have retreated, without effecting anything, from a
country ripe for rebellion since the conspiracy of 1797, can be
explained only in one way: he must have been ignorant of the real
feelings of the people, and totally unfit to lead such an expedition.
Miranda had what we may call a pretty talent for war. He had studied
the principles of the art, and had seen some service. Excited by the
splendid career of Washington, he, like a certain distinguished
Frenchman, determined to imitate him and become the liberator of his
country. When the Giant at a show bends the iron bar, it seems so easy
that every strong man in the crowd thinks he can do as much, until he
tries. It needs a Giant of the first class to handle a people in
revolution. Miranda was not made of that kind of stuff. He was weak and
inefficient, fond of mystery and pomp, easily affected by flattery,
loving dearly to hear himself talk, and unable to control his temper.
His incessant quarrels with Captain Lewis were one cause of the loss of
the schooners off Puerto Cabello. A want of quickness and energy was
felt in all his operations. Delays are proverbially dangerous, but in a
_coup de main_ fatal. The time wasted by him at Jacquemel and at Aruba
was employed by the Spaniards in making preparations for defence. They
had few troops, and did not dare to trust the natives with arms, but
they succeeded in persuading them that Miranda and his men were pagans
and pirates, whose triumph would be ten times more insufferable than
the rule of the mother country.

If Miranda was incompetent to carry out a liberating expedition, he had
wonderful success in talking it up. For twenty years he had carried
this project about with him in America and in Europe. It was elaborated
to perfection in every part, and there were answers prepared to every
objection. The new government was to be modelled upon the English
Constitution,--an hereditary chief, to be called Inca,--a senate,
nominated by the chief, composed of nobles, but not hereditary,--and a
chamber elected by suffrage, limited by a property qualification. He
had collected all the statistics of population and of trade, to show
what commercial advantages the world might expect from a free South
American government. And, "rising upon a wind of prophecy," he already
saw in the future a ship-canal across the Isthmus of Panama, and the
Nicaragua route opened. He had laid these plans before Catharine of
Russia, who gave him money to help them on. Mr. Pitt listened, promised
him assistance in return for commercial privileges, and kept him in pay
for years. The French Revolutionists were eager to furnish him with an
army and a fleet. Rufus King, American Ambassador at London, sent word
of the scheme to Hamilton and Knox, who both approved of it. Miranda
seems to have made the same impression upon everybody. His extensive
travels and acquaintance with distinguished men, his knowledge of
facts, dates, and figures, his retentive and ready memory, his
wonderful cleverness in persuading his hearers, are spoken of in the
same terms by all. Dr. Rush wrote to a friend, that Miranda had dined
with him, and had talked about European politics as if he had been "in
the inside of all the kings and princes." He might have been a second
Count de St. Germain, if he had lived in the reign of Louis XIV.,
instead of in an era when men had abandoned the philosopher's stone,
and were seeking in politics for a new _magnum opus_, Constitutions, as
the certain means of perfecting the human species.

Everybody was mistaken in him. Although he talked "like an angel," in
action he was worthless. If he had never undertaken to carry out his
plans, he might have left an excellent reputation, and have remained in
South American memory as the possible Father of his Country: _Capax
imperii, nisi imperasset_. A short sketch of his career may be
interesting, before we dismiss him again to the oblivion from which we
have evoked him for this month.

Miranda entered the Spanish army in America at the age of seventeen,
and was advanced to be Colonel, a grade seldom or never before reached
by a Creole. He left the service before the close of the Revolutionary
War, travelled in the United States, and was admitted to the society of
Washington and of the leading men of the day. Here, his attainments,
quickness, and insatiable curiosity attracted attention. He knew the
topography and strategy of every battle fought during the war better
than our officers who had been on the field, and soon made himself
familiar with parties, and even with family connections in this
country. His constant topic was the independence of South America.
After the peace of 1783, Miranda went to England: Colonel Smith was
then Secretary of John Adams, the American Minister, and the
acquaintance between them began in London, which ended so disastrously
twenty years later in New York. Leaving England, he travelled over
Europe. At Cherson, he attracted the notice of Prince Potemkin, who
presented him to the Empress at Kiew. In 1790, when the dispute about
Nootka Sound[*] threatened to produce a war between Great Britain and
Spain, he reappeared in London, and proposed to Mr. Pitt his scheme for
revolutionizing the American Colonies. Pitt at once engaged his
services, but Spain yielded, and the project could not be carried out.
Miranda crossed to France, accepted a command in the Republican army,
and served, with credit, in the Netherlands, under Dumouriez, until the
Battle of Neerwinden. In November, 1792, the French rulers conceived
the idea of revolutionizing Spain, both in Europe and in America.
Brissot suggested Miranda as the fittest person for this purpose. He
was to take twelve thousand troops of the line from St. Domingo,
enlist, in addition, ten or fifteen thousand "_braves mulatres_," and
make a descent, with this force, upon the Main. "_Le nom de Miranda_,"
wrote Brissot to Dumouriez, "_lui vaudra une armee; et ses talens, son
courage, son genie, tout nous repond du succes_." Monge, Gensonne,
Claviere, Petion, were pleased with the plan, but Miranda started
difficulties. The French system was too democratic for his taste, and
the pressure of affairs in Europe soon turned the attention of Brissot
and his friends in another direction.

[Footnote *: In May, 1789, the Spanish sloop-of-war Princesa seized
four English vessels engaged in a trade with the natives of Vancouver's
Island, and took them into a Mexican port as prizes, on the ground that
they had violated the Spanish Colonial laws. The English government
denied the claim of Spain to those distant regions, and insisted upon
ample satisfaction. The King of Spain was obliged to submit to avoid
war, but the question of territory was left open.]

After the disastrous affair of Neerwinden, Miranda was accused of
misconduct, arrested, and sent to Paris for trial, but was acquitted by
the _Tribunal Revolutionnaire_, and conducted home in triumph. He was
again imprisoned for _incivisme_, during the Reign of Terror, and did
not recover his liberty until the general jail-delivery which followed
the death of Robespierre. He was seized for the third time in 1797, by
the Directory, as an adherent of the Pichegru faction, and banished
from France.

In January, 1798, Mr. Pitt again sent for Miranda, and a new plan was
arranged for the emancipation of South America. On this occasion, the
cooeperation of the United States was confidently relied upon. Both Pitt
and our own rulers foresaw that Spain must inevitably fall a prey to
France, and that the whole of her American possessions would probably
share her fate. Our relations with France were in so critical a
condition, that we were making preparations for defence; and it was, of
course, of the highest importance to our safety, that the Floridas and
Louisiana should not fall into the hands of a powerful enemy. It was
proposed, consequently, to form a commercial and defensive alliance
between England, the United States, and South America. We were to get
the Floridas and Louisiana to the Mississippi, and in return to furnish
a land-force of ten thousand men. Great Britain would provide the
fleet, in consideration of certain important advantages in trade.
Miranda kept his friends in the United States fully advised of the
progress of affairs. Hamilton and Knox were in favor of the project,
provided war were declared. Our provisional army might then have played
a brilliant part. But there was no war. President Adams refused to
listen to Miranda's communications, and patched up our difficulties
with France. Nothing was done by the English.

In 1801 Lord Sidmouth revived Miranda's hopes, but the Peace of Amiens
put a stop to the preparations. In 1804 Mr. Pitt was again at the head
of affairs, and renewed his intercourse with Miranda. Orders were given
to prepare ships and to enrol men, when the hopes of the third
coalition again suspended the execution of the project.

It was after this last blow from Fortune that Miranda came to New York
and fitted out the expedition we have undertaken to describe. His
disastrous failure seemed neither to destroy his hopes, nor to shake
the confidence of his English friends in his pretensions. When he
returned to England from Trinidad, he found ministers prepared to
embark with energy in the South American scheme. This time a fleet and
an army were really assembled at Cork, and Sir Arthur Wellesley was to
command them,--when the Spanish Revolution broke out, altered at once
the face of affairs in Europe, and turned Sir Arthur and his army
toward Portugal, to begin that brilliant series of campaigns which
drove the French out of the Peninsula.

Few men fix their minds pertinaciously upon an object, and adhere to
the pursuit through life, without at least a partial attainment of it.
Miranda, the victim of so many bitter disappointments, at last found
himself for a few months in the position he had so often dreamed of.
When the news of the fall of Seville, and of the dispersion of the
Junta who governed in the name of Ferdinand VII., reached South
America, open rebellion broke out at Caracas. King Joseph Bonaparte had
sent over a proclamation, imploring his trusty and well-beloved South
Americans to come to his paternal arms,--or, if they would not do that,
at least to set up a government for themselves, and not take part with
Ferdinand and England. His emissaries were hunted down and hanged,
wherever caught. Revolutionary Juntas were established all over the
country. On the 19th of April, 1810, the American Confederation of
Venezuela, in Congress assembled, undertook to rule in the name of
Ferdinand VII., but in reality as an independent government. Miranda
was called to the command of the native army. On the 5th of July, 1811,
the Congress published their Declaration of Independence, and a
Constitution, both of them remarkable state-papers. In point of
liberality of sentiment and elegance of style they will bear comparison
with our own celebrated documents of '76 and '87. Indeed, in all these
Spanish political plays, the plot has been good, the text admirable,
but the actors so poor as to spoil the piece. So it fell out in
Venezuela. At first the Patriots were successful; Miranda defeated the
Royalists and took Valencia. The principal towns fell into the hands of
the insurgents. Then, came the terrible earthquake of 1812, which not
only shattered the resources of the Patriots, but was skilfully used by
the Church as a proof that Providence had taken sides against the
rebels. Monteverde, the Spanish general, recaptured Valencia. Congress
placed the dictatorship with unlimited power in Miranda's hands, but he
was not the man for desperate situations. On the 6th of July, the
Royalists took Puerto Cabello; Caracas fell on the 28th; and Miranda,
betrayed by his own party into the hands of the Spaniards, was sent a
prisoner to Cadiz in October. Simon Bolivar and others, men of
different mettle, regained all that had been lost, and cut loose the
Colonies from Spain. From California to Cape Horn the inestimable
system of self-government was established. According to the theory, the
South Americans should have been prosperous and happy; but,
unfortunately, the result has been murder, robbery, and general ruin.
The burden of taking care of one's self, which the North American had
the strength to bear, has crushed the poor half-caste Spaniard. There
are persons who assert that a political regimen which agrees so well
with us must therefore be good for all others. It may be instructive to
such believers in system to compare Humboldt's narrative of the
cultivation shown by the great Colonial Universities of Mexico, Quito,
and Lima, of the pleasing Creole society that entertained him, and the
peaceful quiet and security he noticed throughout country, with the
relations of modern travellers or newspaper-correspondents who visit
those semi-barbarous regions.

Don Francisco de Miranda did not live to hear of the freedom of his
"Columbia." Before the close of the year 1812 he died in prison, at
Cadiz. Thus perished the most gentlemanlike of filibusters, since the
days when Jason sailed in the Argo to extend the blessing of Greek
institutions over Colchis and to appropriate the Golden Fleece.
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby rickshaw92 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 12:39 pm

coldharvest wrote:
Please contact me privately if you are interested in initiating a coup d’ etat and wish to consult me for details.

Well folks, there it who should we topple?

That mugabi fella really has gotta go.
Im reallly fuclimg pissed but fespite that I can still hit a tarfet at 1000m plus. mayVRVe bnot tonight but it qint beyond the wit if man. Nowhammy.
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Coup d'Etat - A Manual

Postby el3so » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:54 pm

The boys over at Hood's site did a number of these threads. Less stuffy.

Kinda sucks that rich white guys (even if they're buddies of RYP) aren't left to rot, but hey, way of the world and all that.
she isn't a man you need to shut your fucking mouth little pussy bitch - random Youtube comment
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Re: Mercenaries: Coup D'etat - An Operators Manual

Postby coldharvest » Tue Nov 17, 2009 2:55 pm

rickshaw92 wrote:
coldharvest wrote:
Please contact me privately if you are interested in initiating a coup d’ etat and wish to consult me for details.

Well folks, there it who should we topple?

That mugabi fella really has gotta go.

Yes, yes he does.
I know the law. And I have spent my entire life in its flagrant disregard.
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