Academic journal article Military Review

Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win

Academic journal article Military Review

Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win

Article excerpt

BEATING GOLIATH: WHY INSURGENCIES WIN, Jeffrey Record, Potomac Books, Washington, DC, 2007, 192 pages, $24.95

If the U.S. has become the 21st century's "hyperpower," why does it appear so befuddled by the insurgency in Iraq, an insurgency characterized by relatively low levels of technological sophistication, limited ideological appeal, and scant organizational unity? This is the question Jeffrey Record seeks to answer in Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win. He also asks why, in modern history, the weak have sometimes been able to beat the strong. Record's well-chosen case studies highlight the common characteristics of successful insurgencies. He argues that the U.S. is predisposed to play the role of Goliath in asymmetric struggles, and he paints a disturbing picture of what he says is the deeply flawed "American Way of War."

An assistant province advisor in the Vietnam War and a professor of strategy at the Air War College who has written extensively on current security issues, Record bases his theoretical analysis on the work of Andrew Mack, Ivan Arreguin-Toft, and Gil Merom, political scientists who believe that material strength is no guarantee of victory against opponents with superior will and strategy. However, Record takes the political scientists to task for failing to account for the critical role that external assistance plays in making insurgent victories possible. …

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