Why Not Mercenaries, I Ask!

Barton Gellman and Amy Wilentz

Why Not Mercenaries, I Ask!

Barton Gellman and Amy Wilentz

Why Not Mercenaries, I Ask!
An email conversation about the news of the day.
May 16 2000 12:42 PM

Barton Gellman and Amy Wilentz

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Bart:

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Never trust a novelist to analyze a political situation. Frederick Forsyth wants to send mercenaries to Sierra Leone either because his novel with that plot is being reissued or he's thinking about another novel with such a plot. He was once accused of mercenary activities himself, I seem to recall, and surprisingly they weren't talking about his writing.

Yeah, I saw Judy Nathan's diamond. In my Post there's no magnifying picture, but it's still hard to miss. It's on the correct finger and everything, so it must be love.

May I go on? She is a funny dresser, and you'd have to guess, a Republican, even without knowing whom she dates. Floral Easter-parade kind of skirt. Light-colored shoulder-padded jacket. A pearl choker. Matching earrings and bracelet. Patent leather pointy pumps with bows (bows!). A teeny bag (as opposed to the black garbage bag Rudy's mother seemed to be lugging in one of those heart-warming Mother's Day shots --doesn't he even put out the garbage for Mom?).

My favorite item, however, is the dog's collar (dog ID'd as a spaniel, but a very poodle-y looking one). A double rhinestone choker. Also a present from our mayor?

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The thing I will say about the mayor's future intentions is that it seems insane, on the verge of a very important campaign, to exchange a perfect politician's wife (actress, anchor) for a pump-wearing poodle kisser mistress, though I can't comment on Nathan's social or political abilities, which may be enormous.

As to a future Senator Lazio. Hey, Bart. I can pronounce it. (It does sound like a scientific name for a sex act, but what the ...) They said the same thing about Mario Cuomo: too many vowels. I read that Congressman Lazio, who's been begging to run as the GOP Senate candidate for a year, is now saying there are considerations which might stop him from stepping in if the mayor bows out. Now THAT sounds like Cuomo.

By the way, I don't see what's so desperately bad about Forsyth's idea of mercenaries. The U.S. and Europe would like to control the situation in Sierra Leone. They're too scared to send their own supposedly well-trained and supposedly organized troops to secure the place (don't want them to get any boo-boos, the way they did in Somalia), and the U.N. fighters who are trying to deal with things are way too young (not our boys!) and untested (not our boys!) and--this one IS important--ill-equipped (that means no missiles and artillery and aircraft and bombs). So why not mercenaries, whom the powers that control them can equip as they wish, who will assume the responsibility for their own fates, who get paid to do a good job, and who are in the end responsible to their employers. It's not so different from colonialism.

See you.

Amy

 

A former Pentagon, Middle East, and diplomatic correspondent, Barton Gellman is special projects reporter for the Washington Post. Amy Wilentz is the author of The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. She writes frequently about the Middle East and is finishing a novel about Jerusalem.