Tuesday, January 15, 2013

American Revolution Reinvents Guerrilla Warfare

From Max's description of the American Revolution I can see Mao's on protracted warfare and and Ho and Giap's Dau Tranh.  I can see them studying George Washington and Thomas Paine's writings and the Declaration of Independence. 

And of course there are some eery parallels to this excerpt:
BOOT: Well, there is a division in the British ranks, as there often is. Many of the leading British generals thought that they should try to win over the hearts and minds of the Americans - a famous phrase which was first used by General Sir Henry Clinton, who is one of the British commanders in North America. But his desire to win over the hearts and minds of the Americans was undermined by many of his harsher subordinates. 
So the British did not have a consistent policy of conciliation, nor did they have a consistent policy of harshness. Instead, they were confused and there was this strategic muddle that, as much as anything, led to their defeat.
I also think his commentary on technology is useful.
 I would be very skeptical of the idea that there are technological fixes to such deep-rooted problems. 
So drones can be an effective tactic in a very limited way. But they are not the end-all and be-all.

American Revolution Reinvents Guerrilla Warfare
January 15, 2013 2:47 AM

In the new book Invisible Armies, author Max Boot traces the role of guerrilla warfare through history, starting in the Roman Empire all the way up to Afghanistan. He tells Steve Inskeep the American Revolution was the turning point in guerrilla warfare.

(Reading) Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

That's the start of a poem that tells a story almost every American kid learns in some form. In 1775, a Boston silversmith rode to warn Americans colonists that British troops were on the way. Barely trained American militiamen shot the elite British force to pieces.

So, let's think about this for a moment. The British were the world's policeman - smart and technologically advanced - while the Americans were the insurgents.

The historian Max boot cannot help but notice the irony.

MAX BOOT: Today, we're used to having Americans soldiers be the forces of the government. And, of course, in our revolution, we were the insurgents and the British were the role of the counterinsurgency. And, in fact, many of the strategies which the American rebels used against the British are similar in many ways to the strategies now being used against us around the world.

INSKEEP: Now, the American revolutionaries eventually did form a regular army. But guerrilla tactics played a huge role in securing their independence. Max Boot sees modern lessons in that story, as told in "Invisible Armies," his new history of guerrilla warfare.

What were the strategies that the American rebels used when they were rebels?

BOOT: Well, it first of all, comes down to not coming out into the open where you could be annihilated by the superior firepower of the enemy. The British got a taste of how the Americans would fight on the very first day of the Revolution, with the shot heard around the world, the Battle of Lexington and Concorde, where the British regulars marched through the Massachusetts countryside.
And the Americans did not mass in front of them but instead chose to slither on their bellies - these Yankees scoundrels, as the British called them - and fired from behind trees and stone walls. And not come out until the kind of open gentleman's fight that the British expected, and instead, took a devastating toll on the British regiment.
(Continued at the link below)

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