Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Fourth Estate and the Merchants of Death

Progress here at 'War for Slow Readers' can best be described as 'incremental', a word that tends to be used instead of its plain English equivalent - 'slow' - by obfuscators.

Reading a book on the role of the SIS and the SAS in the Falklands conflict last week led me to a gem of a story that was reported in 'Der Speigel' in the mid 80s about an arms deal in which the South African secret service, BOSS, finessed a transaction through the son-in law of the Bulgarian President to supply UNITA with weapons and ammunition. An aircraft formerly owned by the New Zealand national airline was procured and modified to carry freight so the gear could be shipped via airstrips in SW Africa (as it was) and Zaire to  Angola. Of course, the Soviet bloc supplied hardware was destined to be used against Cuban soldiers...

So, here's the Merchant of Death and his henchmen.

I have a nice blue Mercedes saloon and an olive green ex-SADF Unimog for him to transport himself and his merchandise in. Now I just have to dream up some suitable scenarios. UNITA hasn't featured much in our alternative timeline yet but I suspect they may do soon - a spot of internecine fighting between the FNLA and UNITA in Task Force Orange's area of operations as the SADF extract themselves from Angola (for now...)?

The other aspect of the war I'd like to explore is the role of the media. I've just ordered 'Another Day of Life' by Polish journalist  Ryszard Kapuscinski which is apparently the definitive eye witness account of the collapse of Portuguese rule. So, perhaps it's time for the Fourth Estate to make their presence felt alongside the mercenaries, gun runners, whores, internationalists, aid workers, nuns and priests, freedom fighters, commissars and chancers in the war zone?

The other thought I've had stems from the review that was posted on a fellow blogger's website that commented on how 'focused' this blog is on the War in Angola. Of course, our 1975 alternative timeline is not restricted to Angola, but it's dead right to say that's where the tabletop action is. I have found myself developing storylines further afield though, and it's probably only a matter of time before this becomes an alternative timeline of the late seventies and the eighties, and not just in our chosen West African country. The British mercenaries that fought at Caxito could find employment in late seventies Britain, or that SAS raid on Soviet Bear aircraft operating out of Luanda during the Falklands War could trigger a much wider conflict...

What do you think?


  1. John
    What's the Falklands book you mention at the start of the post?

  2. Nigel West: The Secret War for the Falklands: The SAS, Mi6, and the War Whitehall Nearly Lost

    A thoroughly good read and a rich source of idea for 'War for Slow Readers'. Very interesting accounts on planned raids on the Argentine mainland air bases by the SAS and the 'Exocet denial proramme' run by SIS.