Modern Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies: Guerrillas and Their Opponents since 1750

By Ian F. W. Beckett | Go to book overview

9

FORWARD TO THE PAST

With the end of the Cold War and its concomitant ideological competition, it is clear that the pattern of military activity has changed. Moreover, increasing globalisation and the economic and political links that bind major states have made inter-state conflict much more difficult to sustain unilaterally. In Western societies, too, the growing unwillingness to risk large-scale casualties in warfare has coincided with the so-called 'revolution in military affairs' resulting from technological development to produce the kind of 'virtual war' practised in the Gulf and to a much greater extent in Kosovo. However, sanitised 'cyber-war' and the supposed 'New World Order' ushered in by the collapse of communism have not prevented intra-state conflict. Indeed, insurgency is just as prevalent, especially where the state system has remained underdeveloped in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Moreover, new imperatives have also encouraged insurgencies, which in some cases have increasingly blurred the distinctions between war and organised crime. Insurgency, therefore, remains a crucial challenge in the contemporary world.

The most recent examples of British counter-insurgency-that in the Dhofar province of Oman between June 1965 and December 1975, with particular reference to the period after July 1970, and that in Northern Ireland since August 1969-illustrate how far lessons have been genuinely learned over the last 60 years, and also serve to establish contemporary patterns of insurgency and urban terrorism. Dhofar was only a small-scale conflict, although one in which failure would have had enormous repercussions for the West's strategic interests, for Oman overlooked the strategically vital oil route of the Strait of Hormuz, through which oil tankers carried 30 per cent of the United States' oil requirements, 70 per cent of Europe's and 90 per cent of Japan's. To quote Tony Jeapes, it was 'a classic of its type, in which every principle of counter-insurgency operations built up over the last fifty years in campaigns around the world by the British and other armies… was employed'. However, Dhofar was an almost traditional rural campaign, whereas Northern Ireland has witnessed the mix of urban terrorism and rural insurgency that is likely to predominate in the future. That it has occurred in a democratic state has posed particular problems, and the British

-217-

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Modern Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies: Guerrillas and Their Opponents since 1750
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • 1 - The Roots of Insurgency 1
  • 2 - The Roots of Counter-Insurgency 24
  • 3 - Resistance and the Partisan 55
  • 4 - Mao Tse-Tung and Revolutionary Warfare 70
  • Further Reading 85
  • 5 - Formative Experiences 86
  • Further Reading 118
  • 6 - 'Wars of National Liberation'? 121
  • Further Reading 148
  • 7 - The Transition to Urban Insurgency 151
  • 8 - Insurgency and the Superpowers 183
  • 9 - Forward to the Past 217
  • Index 253
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