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America and Guerrilla Warfare

America and Guerrilla Warfare

Anthony James Joes
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    America and Guerrilla Warfare
    Book Description:

    From South Carolina to South Vietnam, America's two hundred-year involvement in guerrilla warfare has been extensive and varied.America and Guerrilla Warfareanalyzes conflicts in which Americans have participated in the role of, on the side of, or in opposition to guerrilla forces, providing a broad comparative and historical perspective on these types of engagements.

    Anthony James Joes examines nine case studies, ranging from the role of Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox, in driving Cornwallis to Yorktown and eventual surrender to the U.S. support of Afghan rebels that hastened the collapse of the Soviet Empire. He analyzes the origins of each conflict, traces American involvement, and seeks patterns and deviations. Studying numerous campaigns, including ones staged by Confederate units during the Civil War, Joes reveals the combination of elements that can lead a nation to success in guerrilla warfare or doom it to failure.

    In a controversial interpretation, he suggests that valuable lessons were forgotten or ignored in Southeast Asia. The American experience in Vietnam was a debacle but, according to Joes, profoundly atypical of the country's overall experience with guerrilla warfare. He examines several twentieth-century conflicts that should have better prepared the country for Vietnam: the Philippines after 1898, Nicaragua in the 1920s, Greece in the late 1940s, and the Philippines again during the Huk War of 1946-1954. Later, during the long Salvadoran conflict of the 1980s, American leaders seemed to recall what they had learned from their experiences with this type of warfare.

    Guerrilla insurgencies did not end with the Cold War. As America faces recurring crises in the Balkans, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and possibly Asia, a comprehensive analysis of past guerrilla engagements is essential for today's policymakers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-5780-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Introduction: The Americans and Guerrilla Insurgency
    (pp. 1-4)

    The end of the Cold War did not mean the end of guerrilla insurgency.¹ The overthrow of the Ethiopian military regime in 1991 underlined the truth of that observation. And since then post–Cold War guerrilla conflict has flared from the Balkans to the Sudan, from Mexico to Mindanao.

    Many factors account for this continuing and escalating pattern of internal violence. Most post–Cold War guerrilla conflicts have their roots in ethnic and religious tensions; the breakup of Cold War alignments has permitted many previously suppressed aspirations and hostilities of various groups to come to the surface. Much of the...

  4. 1 American Guerrillas: The War of Independence
    (pp. 5-49)

    In their very first conflict as an independent people, the Americans displayed impressive prowess in guerrilla warfare. The contribution made by American guerrillas to the climactic events of the War of Independence, especially the bagging of Cornwallis at Yorktown, was substantial, even essential. Yet for some reason their story remains little known. In addition, the war suggests, across more than two centuries, certain fundamental difficulties impeding even great powers when they confront a major guerrilla challenge.

    The American struggle for independence from Britain had its origins above all in two key factors: the destruction of the French and Indian menace...

  5. 2 Confederate Guerrillas: The War of Secession
    (pp. 51-101)

    On December 3, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln sent his annual message to Congress, expressing the hope that the war, already nearly a year old, would not descend into a “violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle.” Yet that was exactly the sort of struggle that would emerge, in the form of Emancipation, Sherman’s campaigns through Georgia and Carolina, and guerrilla warfare.¹

    Slowly falling back in the face of Union advances, Confederate forces in the West moved closer to their bases of supply and were in friendly territory. In contrast, as the Federal armies inexorably advanced into rebel territory, they moved farther away...

  6. 3 The Philippine War: Forgotten Victory
    (pp. 103-129)

    In the twenty-first century the Filipinos and the Americans continue to be, as they long have been, old friends, trading partners, and military allies. Their intimate links include memories of a gratifyingly victorious struggle against a common foe during World War II. The Constitution of the United States provided the model for that of the Philippines, and most Filipinos speak the language their ancestors learned from the Americans. And for students of insurgency, twentieth-century Philippine history provides two instructive examples of how to defeat a guerrilla movement, one with direct and the other with indirect American participation. We consider the...

  7. 4 Nicaragua: A Training Ground
    (pp. 131-143)

    To many observers, the republics of Central America might seem to constitute a fairly homogeneous entity. Their people speak a common language and profess a common religion. They all experienced centuries of Spanish administration, and they began their careers as independent states at the same time. Together they form a relatively compact isthmus of 188,000 square miles, somewhat bigger than the state of California.

    Nevertheless, the appearance of Central American homogeneity can be deceptive. After winning independence from Spain and deciding not to throw in their lot with Mexico, the original five Central American republics—Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua,...

  8. 5 Greece: Civil War into Cold War
    (pp. 145-187)

    Greece provided the stage for the first armed conflict of the Cold War. Thus, the forty-year contest that would strain the power and wisdom of the democracies to their limits found its first battleground in the very birthplace of democracy.¹ In fact the beginnings of the Greek struggle antedated the coining of the termCold War. This first military confrontation between the Communist East and the democratic West provoked the proclamation of the Truman Doctrine and served as a major catalyst of the Containment Policy.

    Greece had for long ages been too poor to support all her numerous progeny, but...

  9. 6 Back to the Philippines: The Huks
    (pp. 189-207)

    A traumatic Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II provided the opportunity for a Communist-organized attempt to take over political power in that country by force of arms. The attempt ended in frustration, in part because of American policies. The Philippines became the first republic in Asia to defeat a Communist insurgency.

    The Republic of the Philippines celebrated its first Independence Day on July 4, 1946. On that day Manuel Roxas was sworn in as the new republic’s first president. The country over which he presided had a population of about 20 million.

    It was less than a...

  10. 7 Vietnam: A Case of Multiple Pathologies
    (pp. 209-258)

    Involvement in the Vietnam conflict divided American society more deeply than any other event since the Civil War. That Southeast Asian struggle ended decades ago but continues to affect U.S. society and foreign policy today.

    Many helpful studies are available regarding the origins of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and precise aspects of U.S. military operations there.¹ I am therefore not concerned here with the continuing debate on the wisdom of U.S. entry into the struggle, nor with a detailed review of the combat record. Instead, I focus on certain aspects of the struggle that may help place the American experience...

  11. 8 El Salvador: A Long War in a Small Country
    (pp. 259-277)

    The only Central American republic without an Atlantic coastline, El Salvador is the smallest Spanish-speaking state in Latin America, the size of Massachusetts. In 1980, when the insurgency broke out, its population was about 3.9 million. El Salvador is the very stereotype of a Central American society: for generations it has been a commodity-export economy, with grave maldistribution of land and wealth and a dreary history of oligarchical control and military dictatorship.¹ The country has the highest population density in Latin America; the living conditions of the lowest strata were for decades the worst of all Latin American countries except...

  12. 9 Afghanistan: Cracking the Red Empire
    (pp. 279-317)

    To describe the guerrilla insurgency in Afghanistan during the 1980s requires a whole string of superlatives. The revolt of the Afghan people against Soviet occupation was “the largest single national rising in the twentieth century.”¹ It was the longest military struggle the Soviets ever experienced; their direct involvement in the war extended from December 1979 to mid-1988. In the course of that war, Soviet troops reached Qandahar, the southernmost expansion of Russian power since the days of Peter the Great. The Soviets pursued one of the most destructive counterinsurgency policies ever seen, and also one of the most unsuccessful. The...

  13. 10 Implications and Provocations
    (pp. 318-332)

    Let us now briefly review the most salient aspects of the conflicts examined in this volume and see whether they yield up any generally useful conclusions.

    The southern colonies that the British tried to subdue were vast in terms of eighteenth-century communications. Direct and indirect foreign assistance to the American side drew off British forces to other pressing areas and played a major role in the bagging of Cornwallis’s army. In the Carolinas the British found themselves confronted by one of history’s great guerrilla chiefs, Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. The guerrillas effectively disrupted British lines of communications and harassed...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 333-381)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 382-411)
  16. Index
    (pp. 412-420)