Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency

Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency

Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency

Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency

Synopsis

"In Resisting Rebellion, Anthony James Joes explores insurgencies ranging across five continents and spanning more than two centuries. Analyzing examples from North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, he identifies recurrent patterns and offers useful lessons for future policymakers." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Insurgency, an attempt to overthrow or oppose a state or regime by force of arms, very often takes the form of guerrilla war. That happens because guerrilla war is the weapon of the weak. It is waged by those whose inferiority in numbers, equipment, and financial resources makes it impossible to meet their opponents in open, conventional battle. Guerrillas therefore seek to wage a protracted conflict, winning small victories over government forces by attaining numerical superiority at critical points through speed and deception. the ambush and attacks on the enemy’s lines of supply have always and everywhere been favorite guerrilla tactics.

Over a century ago, an astute observer wrote that “guerrilla warfare is what regular armies always have most to dread, and when this is directed by a leader with a genius for war, an effective [counterinsurgency] campaign becomes well-nigh impossible.”

In witness to this dramatic statement stand the Vietnam conflict that destroyed two U.S. administrations and the war in Afghanistan that helped unravel the ussr. Those guerrilla insurgencies were waged by poor countries, but “iron weighs at least as much as gold in the scales of military strength.” Guerrillas mauled the Americans and the Soviets because those countries’ militaries were deficient in proper doctrine and prepared troops and were slow to adapt to unforeseen difficulties. Certainly, both cases illustrate that guerrilla insurgency is not simply a scaled-down version of conventional war. Hence those who undertake counterinsurgency by treating it as such are committing an error with possibly grievous consequences.

But however dramatic, the Vietnamese and Afghan conflicts are only the most recent cases where great powers have encountered ca-

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