Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency…

August 3, 2007

image - Out of Iraq (book cover)William R Polk, author (with George McGovern) of Out of Iraq, has written a new book,

Violent Politics: A History of Insurgency, Terrorism, and Guerrilla War, from the American Revolution to Iraq

The new book comes out next month. Meanwhile, you can read an executive summary posted on Informed Comment.

[excerpt from the executive summary:]

Is there some new magic formula for success? Generals David Petraeus and James Amos argue that there is. They have laid out a counterinsurgency doctrine. (December 2006 Counterinsurgency Field Manual). But it is not new. When tried in Vietnam, it did not work. As Petraeus and Amos admit, the key element in insurgency is political: “each side aims to get the people to accept its governance or authority as legitimate.” Is this a feasible objective for foreigners? One searches the historical record in vain for an example of success. The foreign occupying force, by definition, is alien. Vietnam showed that even when the aliens (us) had a numerous and established local ally (the South Vietnamese government) that ally was more apt to be alienated by its association with the foreign military force than that force was to be “Vietnamized” by their native ally. In sum, the single absolutely necessary ingredient in counterinsurgency is extremely unlikely ever to be available to foreigners.

You can read the whole executive summary here.


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