Victor Boot, Mu Bhutto, Laurent Kabila discussed on Today, Explained


What makes him the merchant of death, it's such a incredible, powerful and horrifying title, was he wildly successful in comparison to other arms dealers around the world? Oh, without question. He could move this stuff and drop it with pinpoint accuracy to any desert to any jungle to any other remote place in the world right into the hands of what I refer to as the potpourri of global scum. Many people could sell you lots of AK-47s across Africa. I was living there in the times of the war and covering the wars. It wasn't hard to acquire crappy old Soviet weapons. It wasn't hard to acquire a few hand grenades. But what Victor boot brought to the table was the ability to deliver attack helicopters. Deliver anti tank weapons that could be fired through entire villages and burn a village down with one shot. The fact that you could bring in high caliber machine guns. Rocket propelled grenades, no one else could do that. After the wall came down, $32 billion worth of arms were stolen and resold from Ukraine alone. One of the greatest heists of the 20th century. The primary market was Africa. 11 major complex involving 32 countries in less than a decade, a gun runner's wet dream. And so as he built his reputation, both sides of the same conflict would hire him on numerous occasions. So in what was then Zaire, you had mu Bhutto, the dictator who had been there a long time being chased out of office by Laurent Kabila's forces sweeping across the DRC and Victor was selling weapons to both sides and while Kabila's forces were trying to kill mobuto literally as he was fleeing the country. He flew out of the country on Victor boots aircraft. So he had armed the people who were trying to shoot down his own airplane. And the president and that's what made him so incredibly successful was that he could do all of that. And one of the questions I asked in my co author asked a lot of people, why did both sides tolerate this? Why didn't someone kill him? And there was like, well, you don't kill the mailman. Bleak. He's the one person who could deliver. You just don't kill the mailman. Like, are you stupid? And I was like, well, maybe I may be I am, but that was consistently the answer he did what he said he would do at the price he said he would do it at. And that made him unusually successful. Who was his supplier this whole time? Is it just Russia? It was the entire former Soviet bloc where all of these arsenals had been abandoned. Ukraine wasn't the only former state with an unpaid army in stockpiles of guns. There was Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Belarus. All there for the taking. So if someone showed up and paid the commander a $1000 and said, I'll take this load of weapons out. Thank you very much. Fine. And most of the Soviet era, major arsenals had air strips built into their facilities. So he could land there, load up and fly out, and it was apparently a relatively easy process. It sounds like he did a lot of dirty deeds. Especially on the continents of Africa, does his involvement in them play a central role in accelerating the conflict or accelerating the end of the conflict. How important a player is he in these conflicts? Is ability to supply weapons to some of the worst warlords on the planet was, I think, transformational for those wars. Elevating bloody conflicts from machetes and single shot rifles to. AK-47s, not by the thousands, but by the tens of thousands. When these wars started, most people had hunting rifles and machetes, and they were nasty and they were hellacious, but when you add AK-47s and light anti tank weapons and RPGs, obviously the human toll escalates dramatically. He transformed these young adolescent warriors into

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