Counterinsurgency has staked its claim in the new century as the new American way of war. Yet, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have revived a historical debate about the costs - monetary, political and moral - of operations designed to eliminate insurgents and build nations. Today's counterinsurgency proponents point to 'small wars' past to support their view that the enemy is 'biddable' if the correct tactical formulas are applied. Douglas Porch's sweeping history of counterinsurgency campaigns carried out by the three 'providential nations' of France, Britain and the United States, ranging from nineteenth-century colonial conquests to General Petraeus' 'Surge' in Iraq, challenges the contemporary mythologising of counterinsurgency as a humane way of war. The reality, he reveals, is that 'hearts and minds' has never been a recipe for lasting stability and that past counterinsurgency campaigns have succeeded not through state-building but by shattering and dividing societies while unsettling civil-military relations.
Douglas Porch is Distinguished Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. A specialist in military history, he advises on security issues all over the world. His most recent book, The Path to Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in World War II, received the Award for Excellence in US Army Historical Writing from The Army Historical Foundation.
1. A 'happy combination of clemency with firmness'. The small wars prologue; 2. The road from Sedan; 3. The paroxysms of imperial might in the shadow of the Great War; 4. From Tipperary to Tel Aviv: British counterinsurgency in the shadow of World War II; 5. From small wars to La Guerre Subversive. The radicalization and collapse of French counterinsurgency; 6. Vietnam, counterinsurgency, and the American way of war; 7. 'A conspiracy of heroes' - revolution and counterinsurgency in Latin America; 8. Building the 'most successful counterinsurgency school' - COIN as the British way of war; 9. Britain's thirty years' war in Northern Ireland; 10. Vietnam with a happy ending - Iraq and 'The Surge'; 11. Conclusion; Bibliography.