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Resisting Rebellion

The History and Politics of Counterinsurgency

Anthony Joes

Publication Year: 2004

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.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

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Prologue: Guerrilla Insurgency as a Political Problem

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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....

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1: Guerrilla Strategy and Tactics

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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...

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2: Some Wellsprings of Insurgency

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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...

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3: Religion and Insurgency in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centures

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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...

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4: Religion and Insurgency in the Twentieth Century

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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...

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5: Foreign Involvement with Insurgency

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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...

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6: Establishing Civilian Security

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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...

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7: Loyalists: Indigenous Anti-Insurgency

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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...

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8: The Centrality of Intelligence

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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...

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9: The Requirement of Rectitude

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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...

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10: The Utility of Amnesty

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pp. 166-170

As Sun Tzu wrote in his Art 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...

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11: The Question of Sufficient Force Levels

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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...

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12: Deploying U.S. Troops in a Counterinsurgent Role

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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...

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13: Guerrillas and Conventional Tactics

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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...

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14: The Myth of Maoist People's War

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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...

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15: Two False Starts: Venezuela and Thailand

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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...

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16: Comparing National Approaches to Counterinsurgency

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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...

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17: Elements of a Counterinsurgent Strategy

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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...

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Epilogue: Conflict in Iraq

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pp. 256-257

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...


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pp. 259-318


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pp. 319-346


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pp. 347-351

E-ISBN-13: 9780813171999
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813123394

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2004