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Revolutionaries for the RightAnticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare in the Cold War$
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Kyle Burke

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640730

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640730.001.0001

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Covert Warriors for Hire

Covert Warriors for Hire

(p.86) 4 Covert Warriors for Hire
Revolutionaries for the Right

Kyle Burke

University of North Carolina Press

In the late 1970s, a new set of Americans took up the dream of a global anticommunist revolution. Many were high-ranking CIA and military officers who had been forced from their jobs by the Ford and Carter administrations in the wake of the Vietnam War. As Congress passed new laws constraining the United States’ clandestine services, these ex-soldiers and spies argued that the state’s deteriorating covert war-making abilities signaled a broader decline in U.S. power. To remedy that, retired covert warriors such as U.S. Army General John Singlaub, a thirty-year veteran of special operations, entered the world of conservative activism, which promised both steady pay and power in retirement. Working in the shadow of the state, they sought to revitalize a form of combat to which they had dedicated their lives. Some even started private military firms to fill in for the U.S. government. Meanwhile, hundreds of American men, mostly disgruntled Vietnam veterans, sought new lives as mercenaries, first in Southeast Asia and then in Rhodesia and Angola. In the late 1970s, these two camps of revanchist Americans—retired covert warriors and aspiring mercenaries—established patterns of paramilitarism that would transform the anticommunist international in the Reagan era.

Keywords:   John Singlaub, Robert K. Brown, Theodore Shackley, Soldier of Fortune, Rhodesia, Angola, Vietnam, Church Committee, Central Intelligence Agency, covert Action, mercenaries

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