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Resisting Rebellion

Resisting Rebellion: The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency

Anthony James Joes
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 360
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    Resisting Rebellion
    Book Description:

    In Resisting Rebellion, Anthony James Joes's discussion of insurgencies ranges across five continents and spans 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. Insurgencies arise from many sources of discontent, including foreign occupation, fraudulent elections, and religious persecution, but they also stem from ethnic hostilities, the aspirations of would-be elites, and traditions of political violence. Because insurgency is as much a political phenomenon as a military one, effective counterinsurgency requires a thorough understanding of the insurgents' motives and sources of support. Clear political aims must guide military action if a counterinsurgency is to be successful and establish a lasting reconciliation within a deeply fragmented society.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-7199-9
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. PROLOGUE. Guerrilla Insurgency as a Political Problem
    (pp. 1-9)

    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...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Guerrilla Strategy and Tactics
    (pp. 10-23)

    This chapter reviews the fundamental strategic and tactical aspects of successful guerrilla insurgency. Extreme asymmetries in physical power characterize most contests between insurgents and almost any state. Therefore a victory of guerrilla insurgents indicates either that they have employed excellent strategy and/or tactics, or that the regime has displayed unusual incompetence—or both.

    Guerrilla warfare is not a phenomenon peculiar to a particular ideology, century, or culture. It is, rather, a method employed by those seeking to force a militarily superior opponent to accept their political objectives. In the ideal, guerrillas are those who fight against ostensibly more powerful forces...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Some Wellsprings of Insurgency
    (pp. 24-49)

    Many factors have produced insurgencies, almost as many as the ways in which rulers can commit folly or self-seeking men disguise their aims. While insurgencies always have multiple causes, in almost every instance one factor predominates, by providing either the provocation, the justification, and/or the opportunity for an outbreak. The present chapter examines five elements that have played such a role in insurgency: rigged or suppressed elections, a tradition of internal conflict, the aspirations of former or marginal or would-be elites, defeat in war, and a response from those targeted for genocide. (Religiously motivated insurgencies will be considered in separate...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Religion and Insurgency in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
    (pp. 50-66)

    While it would be difficult to identify a guerrilla insurgency driven exclusively by religious issues, it is undeniable that a number of insurgencies have had their primary genesis in a reaction to perceived outrages against religious institutions and sentiments.

    For countless millions of human beings, especially those in rural communities, religion is intimately connected to their self-definition and to their perceived well-being both in this world and in the next. Consequently, an insurgency in defense of religion will be resolute and protracted, and may have the most serious consequences for the regime that provokes it. In our own time, religious...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Religion and Insurgency in the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 67-93)

    The twentieth century witnessed religious insurgencies as violent as those of the preceding century, and in the case of Afghanistan, as consequential internationally as the anti-Napoleonic revolt in Spain.

    For generations, Afghanistan ranked as one of the most remote and obscure places on earth. Yet the religiously inspired uprising that swept across that country beginning in 1979 is probably the best-known guerrilla insurgency of the last quarter of the twentieth century. Because several chapters of this book discuss key aspects of that conflict, only the outlines of the religious basis of the war are presented here.

    The Communist Party of...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Foreign Involvement with Insurgency
    (pp. 94-104)

    The fundamental method of guerrilla war-making is to attack the enemy’s lines of communication. The counterinsurgent equivalent of this is twofold: first, isolating the civilian population from the guerrillas, and, second, preventing outside assistance from reaching the guerrillas. It is the latter effort that this present chapter examines.

    Machiavelli observed that “when once the people have taken up arms against you, there will never be lacking foreigners to assist them.”¹ During the Cold War, even insurgencies that originated in the most arcane local circumstances became entangled in the schemata of that global ideological struggle. Western and/or Soviet intervention, direct or...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Establishing Civilian Security
    (pp. 105-121)

    It is an essential thesis of this book that in a guerrilla insurgency the civil population is Clausewitz’s “center of gravity.”¹ Effective counterinsurgency therefore means establishing secure control over the civilian population, especially in rural areas. The true objective of intelligent counterinsurgency is not to kill guerrillas but to marginalize them, while exacerbating internal guerrilla contradictions. Separating the guerrillas from the population is the crux of counterinsurgency and the government’s principal challenge. Without security, the civilians will have no choice but to support the guerrillas. Therefore, “the first reaction to guerrilla warfare must be to protect and control the population.”²...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Loyalists: Indigenous Anti-Insurgency
    (pp. 122-144)

    This volume examines many insurgent movements that claimed to fight for national independence against foreign oppression. Almost invariably, however, notable elements in the affected society do not support, or actually oppose, the self-proclaimed independence movement. These elements, referred to here by the general term “loyalists,” are often branded as collaborators or traitors. Yet these derogatory labels serve to obscure the fact that numerous anticolonial or secessionist struggles bear striking resemblances to true civil wars. One can acquire insights into the phenomenon of insurgency, as well as into the complex meanings of nationalism by taking a look at indigenous groups that...

  11. CHAPTER 8 The Centrality of Intelligence
    (pp. 145-155)

    The most effective weapon against an armed insurgency is a good intelligence organization. Sun Tzu observed: “Now the reason the enlightened prince and the wise general conquer the enemy whenever they move and their achievements surpass those of ordinary men is foreknowledge.”¹ Machiavelli believed that “nothing is more worthy of the attention of a good general than to endeavor to penetrate the designs of the enemy.”² On July 26, 1777, General George Washington wrote to Col. Elias Dayton that “the necessity of procuring good intelligence is apparent and need not be further argued. All that remains for me to add...

  12. CHAPTER 9 The Requirement of Rectitude
    (pp. 156-165)

    A principal thesis of this book has been that true victory is one that leads to true peace, a peace founded on legitimacy and eventual reconciliation. Obtaining such an outcome requires that the counterinsurgent forces practice rectitude.

    The noted theorist and practitioner of counterinsurgency Sir Robert Thompson defines rectitude as meaning that the forces of order are “acting in accordance with the law of the land, and in accordance with the highest civilized standards.”¹ Along the same lines, the U.S. Marines distilled the following sage advice from their experience fighting guerrillas in Central America in the 1920s: “In small wars,...

  13. CHAPTER 10 The Utility of Amnesty
    (pp. 166-170)

    As Sun Tzu wrote in hisArt of War, “To subdue the enemy without fighting is the supreme skill.” A well-implemented amnesty program can be a very powerful instrument toward this end in the hands of any counterinsurgent force.

    To be effective, an amnesty program must be based on a realistic understanding of why people become guerrillas. The reasons for joining a guerrilla band can be complex. Assuming the cause stems always from economic hardship or government brutality can be grossly misleading. Sometimes, especially for very young persons, the real lure is adventure, getting away from a dull routine or...

  14. CHAPTER 11 The Question of Sufficient Force Levels
    (pp. 171-179)

    Everyone knows that mere numbers do not win wars. Morale, training, leadership, discipline, weapons, supply, and finance are crucial. The Romans fielded armies small in size, generally about twenty thousand men, but excellent in training and discipline. Nevertheless, one cannot successfully wage counterinsurgency on the cheap, that is, without an appropriate commitment of ground forces. The record is replete with examples of disaster descending upon counterinsurgencies that would not or could not observe this fundamental principle.

    The ideal situation from the point of view of the counterinsurgents is for the civilian population to support their side; the next-best situation is...

  15. CHAPTER 12 Deploying U.S. Troops in a Counterinsurgent Role
    (pp. 180-184)

    If a single point of consensus emerged from the deeply divisive U.S. experience in Vietnam—rightly or wrongly—it seems to be this: the U.S. must be extremely selective in committing its troops to waging counterinsurgency in a foreign environment. When confronting the possibility of involvement in such a conflict, Washington policymakers will need to provide clear answers to questions such as the following:

    What are the origin and nature of the insurgency in question?

    What is the clear and direct U.S. interest in the conflict?

    What evidence exists that U.S. intervention will effectively influence the conflict?

    Why can’t the...

  16. CHAPTER 13 Guerrillas and Conventional Tactics
    (pp. 185-190)

    Sometimes insurgents have abandoned their guerrilla tactics in favor of conventional warfare. This section considers three major instances of such a fateful change in method: the Greek guerrillas in 1948–1949, the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, and the Viet Cong during the Tet Offensive of 1968.

    The Communist-led Greek insurgents passed from guerrilla tactics to conventional tactics more than once. Following the German evacuation of Greece, Communist-led guerrillas attempted in early December 1944 to expel newly arrived British forces from Athens. Churchill himself arrived on Christmas Day 1944 to hearten the defenders of the besieged capital....

  17. CHAPTER 14 The Myth of Maoist People’s War
    (pp. 191-208)

    Out of China came one of the great myths of the twentieth century, the myth of guerrilla invincibility. During the 1930s and 1940s, Mao Tse-tung worked out methods of peasant-based revolutionary guerrilla warfare, linking guerrilla tactics to political organization. He then wielded this type of warfare to checkmate the Japanese and defeat the Kuomintang. That, at any rate, is the myth, which throughout the second half of the twentieth century exerted incredible power over revolutionaries and counterrevolutionaries alike.¹

    In order to evaluate the Maoist myth, one needs to review both the genesis and nature of Maoist revolutionary guerrilla warfare, and...

  18. CHAPTER 15 Two False Starts: Venezuela and Thailand
    (pp. 209-217)

    During the 1960s, for reasons that may be difficult to comprehend today, the Communist Parties in Venezuela and Thailand decided to launch guerrilla insurgencies against their respective governments. The outcomes of these decisions were quite unexpected, especially to those who had made them.

    Venezuela is three times the size of Poland, larger than Texas and Oklahoma combined. In the early 1960s, the population was about 7.5 million. Much of the national territory, especially in the south and east, was sparsely populated.¹

    In 1958, after helping to oust a military dictatorship, the reformer Rómulo Betancourt won the Venezuelan presidency in a...

  19. CHAPTER 16 Comparing National Approaches to Counterinsurgency
    (pp. 218-231)

    This section offers a brief, comparative analytical overview of several general national approaches to, or styles of, counterinsurgency: those of the French, British, Chinese, Japanese, Russians/Soviets, Portuguese, and Americans.

    During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, France faced two major guerrilla conflicts. One of these raged along her own Atlantic coast, in the Vendée and Brittany, the other in Spain.¹ The regime both provoked and protracted these insurgencies, first by outraging the religious sentiments of generally law-abiding peasants, and then by unleashing systematic violence against them.

    At first failing to gauge correctly the seriousness of the rebellion in the Vendée,...

  20. CHAPTER 17 Elements of a Counterinsurgent Strategy
    (pp. 232-255)

    A distinguished student of civil conflict once observed: “The difficulty in generalizing about insurrections arises from the fact that strategies that may be highly successful in one situation may be completely irrelevant in another. As guerrillas must live by their wits, so governments fighting guerrillas must be quick-witted and unencumbered by doctrine.”¹

    It is certainly reasonable to caution against a Procrustean approach to a complex set of phenomena. But it is equally reasonable to seek to learn from experience. Careful analysis of failed guerrilla efforts and successful counterinsurgent campaigns may therefore be highly informative in identifying elements for a viable...

  21. EPILOGUE: Conflict in Iraq
    (pp. 256-258)

    In 2003, having swiftly toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the victorious coalition—more than thirty countries—pledged to establish a democratic government in Iraq. Almost immediately, however, the situation began to darken. The predictable postwar outbreak of terrorism struck at “soft” targets, including United Nations and Red Cross personnel, foreign civilians in general, even children. Then terrorism elided into guerrilla insurgency as assaults on coalition military units became frequent. Rising U.S. casualties in the second year after the end of the conventional war alarmed many Americans. As the problems in Iraq became grist (or rather chaff) for partisan mills,...

  22. Notes
    (pp. 259-318)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 319-346)
  24. Index
    (pp. 347-352)