Science fiction is part and parcel of the American culture that is reflected in the American military. In fact, military men and women have a special affinity for sci-fi. The influences of sci-fi on the military are both technical and cultural and flow in both directions; from the military into the general society and from sci-fi into the military.
Pike and Shot is an involving, compelling and, dare I say it, educational turn-based game which explores the 300 years long (and sadly overlooked by electronic game developers) “pike and shot” era of European warfare.
I have an article in this month’s Sci Phi Journal (see link above). the article is titled: Captain America, Cobras and the Hunted: Some Legal and Ethical Aspects of Creating Super-Soldiers.
Sci Phi Journal: Issue #2, November 2014: The Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy
Sci Phi is an online science fiction and philosophy magazine. In each issue you will find stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles…
Mercenaries have existed as long as organized armies and for as long as they have existed they have been despised and denigrated. Aristotle wrote against them,[i] as did Machiavelli.[ii] Yet there has always been a “market for mercenaries.”[iii] In the mid-20th Century’s best market for mercenaries was the newly independent Republic of the Congo, indeed Africa in the 1960s was a “golden age” of mercenarism.[iv]
This paper will examine what were the specific circumstances during the Congo Crisis of 1960-67 that precipitated this new heyday of the mercenary and what where the responses to this new mercenarism? Mercenarism as a military, political, and economic phenomenon in post-colonial Congo will be examined. By focusing on the Congo Crisis, this paper will illustrate the circumstances that encourage the wide-scale use of mercenary soldiers. Counter-mercenary operations will be examined. Further, mercenarism as a driver for United Nation interventionism and Cold War conflict in the post-imperial Third World will be explored. Lastly, the economics of mercenarism will be analyzed.
[i] Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 1116b and Politics 1306a
[ii] Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter XII.
[iii] David A. Latzko, “The Market for Mercenaries” presented at the Eastern Economic Association Meetings, Crystal City, VA, April 4, 1997 at http://www.personal.psu.edu/~dxl31/ research/presentations/mercenary.html. (Accessed 18 Dec. 2013)
[iv] Mpako H. Foaleng, “Private Security in Africa: Manifestation, Challenges and Regulation”, Monograph No 139, November 2007, Institute for Security Studies at http://www.issafrica.org/. (Accessed 18 Dec. 2013)
Babylon’s Ark subtitled: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo is the compelling and ultimately heartwarming story of how one man rescued the abandoned animals of the Baghdad zoo in the middle of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
The book is an odd and quirky combination of a Tom Clancy thriller and a James Herriot animal care story.
Lawrence Anthony, a South African conservationist, who at the start of Operation: Iraqi Freedom in 2003 realized that no one would be caring for the animals of the Baghdad Zoo. He soon arrived in Kuwait, rented a car and recruited two native speaking zoo keepers from the Kuwait City Zoo and was the first non-reporter civilian to enter the war torn country.
Traveling 500 miles thru a warzone, Anthony found the zoo in appalling condition with only a few animals surviving. Anthony and his two helpers soon set to work. They ‘liberated” equipment from bombed out hotels to care for the animals. They bought donkeys in markets to feed to the carnivores. Anthony soon formed an unlikely alliance with the local American military unit, the US 3rd Infantry Division (Rock of the Marne). Sometimes acting against orders, individual soldiers were soon helping Anthony. Friendly soldiers gave him a weapon to defend the zoo from looters, which he soon had to do. They used their own money to buy herds of sheep and other food for the animals. The remaining zoo staff soon returned to work and more international help arrived as well.
Not satisfied with those successful efforts Anthony and his team were soon rescuing cheetahs, ostriches and other animals from Uday Hussein’s private menagerie. With US Army Captain William Sumner and his soldiers, Anthony and his team also rescued abused and neglected exotic animals from black markets all over the warzone. In one exciting adventure, a military raid lead by Captain Sumner and Captain Gavino Rivas rescued seventeen horses from Saddam Hussein’s famous herd Arabian Horses.
After the fighting eased the US Army deployed engineers to repair and improve the zoo and the surrounding park which reopened to the public in July of 2003. Anthony left the country in September 2003.
If the book has any problem it is Anthony’s writing, which frankly leaves much to be desired. He could have used a good ghost writer or strict editor when completing this book.
This book is a must read for animal lovers ever where.