And like all good things, it had to end. The first serious trouble came in 1989, when Denard and his local puppet ruler, Ahmad Abdullah, decided to dissolve the army. This is always a danger zone for coups, any time you cut the officer corps' wages or mess with their various scams. Those guys are armed and not really all that dedicated to democratic reforms.
Sure enough, a "disgruntled" army officer walked into Abdullah's office, shot him dead and wounded Denard. The French government, which had one of those love-hate things with Denard, like in a French movie, evacuated him to South Africa and he recovered. But, sacre bleu, things could never be the same again.
In fact, when Denard tried to make a comeback it was just sad. In 1995 he came ashore with a pitiful 30 men in inflatable rafts. One week later, French troops landed, picked him and his men up and flew them back to Paris to stand trial. That's the kind of government gratitude you can expect if you're in what the Russians call "wet ops."
The trial was kind of weird, because the French accused Denard of staging the 1989 murder of his puppet, Ahmad Abdullah. Weird, because as far as I can see he didn't do it. Why would he have been shot if he was directing the assassination? Maybe that was the plan: instead of charging him with the four Comoros coups he definitely ran, they trumped up charges for one of the ones he didn't do. At any rate, he got off on that one, but the magic was gone. When he tried another coup in 1995, he wimped out for the first time in his life, surrendered without a shot and went back to France. And even there they wouldn't let him alone. Those pesky human-rights types were multiplying like—well, like Comorans, who have one of the highest birth rates in the world.
In 2001 the Italians put Denard on trial, like it was any of their business. (Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, by the way—you see the link between no kids and do-goodery.) He got off again, but a Leftist lawyer in France forced another trial in 2006, and this time Denard was convicted. By now, though, he was a senile old dolt and not worth taking to jail. He died shortly afterwards, in 2007.
But don't feel too sorry for ol' Bob. He saw which way the winds were blowing and converted to Islam soon after assuming power in 1978, and his legacy lives on in the form of at least eight kids. With at least seven different women. You can't take it with you but you can sure spread your genes around. Vive le Bob!
Gary Brecher's book The War Nerd will be available this June.