The Guerrilla Myth

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Max Boot shares the lessons that we need to learn — but haven’t — from the history of guerrilla war:

  1. Guerrilla warfare is not new.
  2. Guerrilla warfare is the form of conflict universally favored by the weak, not an “Eastern” way of war.
  3. Guerrilla warfare has been both underestimated and overestimated.
  4. Insurgencies have been getting more successful since 1945, but they still lose most of the time.
  5. The most important recent development in guerrilla warfare has been the rise of public opinion.
  6. Few counter-insurgency campaigns have ever succeeded by inflicting mass terror — at least in foreign lands.
  7. “Winning hearts and minds” is often successful as an anti-guerrilla strategy, but it isn’t as touchy-feely as commonly supposed.
  8. Most insurgencies are long-lasting; attempts to win a quick victory backfire.
  9. Technology has been relatively unimportant in guerrilla war—but that may be changing.

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