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PostChe Guevara in Africa (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 12/05/16 11:49 am)
In recent days we have had a long discussion on Fidel Castro, whether he was a villain or a hero. It is difficult to pinpoint him exactly.
His greatest success for sure was to die while his regime was still in power. We may also admire him for facing the greatest Empire but we have to condemn him for joining the Soviet empire. Maybe he had no other choice, considering the mistakes of the former.
I would like, however, remember that, in spite of all the propaganda, flags, berets, t-shirts, speeches, and songs, he and his buddy Che Guevara completely failed in their attempts to export the revolution.
Some 51 years ago, el Gran Guerillero Che Guevara, sent by Fidel to Congo, having completely failed militarily, ran away like a rabbit after confronting a small bunch of European fighters: Bob Denard, Mike Hoare, Jean Schramme and from Fiume Tullio Moneta (he was in The Wild Geese). There is a song about his fight that says: I saved nuns and friars from the rebels' fire, but the UN does not care if my skin is burned, if my skin burns it is because I am a mercenary, but the Pope does not care and counts the beads of his rosary.
By the way, on 11 November 1961 at the airport in Kindu, 13 Italian aviators arrived with relief supplies. They were taken prisoner and then killed with machetes. It was reported that their flesh was sold in the local market for 10 francs per kilo.
As far as I know they were the first Italians killed in a so-called peace mission.
A further thought, considering the millions of Africans now escaping from Africa, who was right, Ciombè and Schramme or Lumumba and Guevara?
JE comments: I was unaware of the Kindu (Congo) massacre, but the atrocity must be well known in Italy. There are at least two monuments dedicated to the 13 victims: in Rome and Pisa.
How about a WAIS discussion on mercenaries? They are usually despised, except for when they aren't. On the one hand, "mercenary" has become a catch-all insult to label those who abandon principles for profit. On the other hand, we have the romance of the French Foreign Legion, El Cid, and...well, wasn't Che Guevara a mercenary of sorts?
(Eugenio Battaglia, Italy
12/08/16 4:56 AM)
John E proposed a WAIS discussion on mercenaries. This sounds interesting, but we have to be very careful about how we define "mercenaries," as not all the foreigners who fight in some other country do so for profit; probably the majority are motivated by principles.
Regarding mercenaries motivated by profit, look no further than the modern contractors used by a nation that does not want to use its troops for dirty or particularly distasteful jobs.
Some notable example of those fighting for ideals is the captain of grenadiers, the Count Santorre di Santarosa (Savigliano, Italy, 18 November 1783 - Navarino, Greece, 8 May 1825). He fought against Napoleon in 1800, and then hoping for the support of Prince Carlo Alberto of Savoy, he organized a mobilization to install a liberal constitution, but he was betrayed by the prince and had to go into exile.
When the Greek War of Independence from the Turks started, he moved to Greece at the end of 1824 and enrolled as a simple soldier. He participated in various battles, but was killed by Egyptians of the Ottoman forces when he was with the last defenders of the Island of Sfacteria in front of Navarino.
Italians went to fight also for the independence of South America. Just remember the Division Montevideo and Giuseppe Garibaldi.
The oppressed Poles went all over to fight for the independence of other nations from the USA to Italy. They participated in the Italian wars of Independence, for example the great poet Adam Mickiewicz and Ludvik Mieroslawski. The Polish general Isenszmidt Miblitz partecipated with Garibaldi to unite the Kingdom of the two Sicilys into the new Italy.
Italian volunteers in turn participated in the Polish war of independence, such as Colonel Francesco Nullo (Bergamo 1 May 1826-Krzykawka 5 May 1863), who organized an Italian Legion and went to fight against the Russians. He died in battle, while Colonel Bechi ended up in front of a Russian firing squad. Other Italians returned to Greece for the freedom of Crete, while in 1870 the only French victory against the Prussians was at Dijon, thanks to the Garibaldini of Giuseppe Garibaldi.
We could cite many other examples. Even many of the so-called mercenaries of Congo were not fighting for profit but for an ideal.
JE comments: I wouldn't count any of the Romantic warriors as mercenaries. (To our list we should add Lord Byron in Greece, although he fell ill and died without seeing battle.) Dying for someone else's country, just because the cause is noble, no longer flies in the West. The last hurrah of "romanticism" may indeed have been WAISworld's favorite war, Spain 1936-'39.
Among Islamists, as much as we find their cause loathsome, the internationalist ideal still holds.