HIST 2040 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Non-Functional Requirement, Guerrilla Warfare, Social Darwinism

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10 Aug 2016
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War October 8th, 2015
Limited War and Developing Countries (Martin Navias and Tim Moreman)
page #309-314:
For tens of centuries warfare in the regions which we now loosely describe as the Third
World was fought in the main by forces with equivalent types of weapons, logistical
arrangements, and control systems
While there were as many differences in armaments as there were armies, and variations in
forms of military organization as there were societies, the qualitative gap between contending
forces was never as profound as that between the expanding European powers and local
inhabitants
It was this which provided one of the major themes of colonial warfare up until the 1930s and
accounted for the cheap and easy victories of the European states
The determination to combat and overcome this disparity of force at a later stage encouraged
modern day guerrilla warfare theory and practice
Then, having won their independence, many Third World countries began to take advantage
of industrial capabilities of the developed world in order to acquire sophisticated conventional
arsenals and, where possible, weapons of mass destruction
Colonial warfare in the developing world represented a distinct genre of military operations
during the 19th and 20th centuries
The succession of imperial campaigns fought in Africa and Asia included wars of conquest,
pacification, punitive expeditions, and wars of competition between European powers for
territory
The acquisition of empires brought with it a constant legacy of warfare in which European
racial and social Darwinist ideas coloured the use of force
The role of both civil and military technology was decisive in the expansion and consolidation
of European empires
The employment of quinine, steam boats, railways, the telegraph, and the breech-loading rifle
enabled small European armies to dominate the battlefield
The machine-gun became the symbol of European superiority and was employed with
devastating effect
The impact of modern weapons was devastating against opponents employing mass shock
tactics in open terrain
The environment was often a greater threat to the colonial armies than the foe indeed,
colonial warfare was dominated by the debilitating effects of nature on European troops as
imperial armies operated in areas where the effects of disease, the nature of the terrain, the
lack of supplies and of reliable intelligence often hamstrung the conduct of operations
European armies were thus forced to seek a decisive tactical engagement before climate,
disease, and precarious logistics brought to an end to the campaign
The conduct of ‘small wars’ required the development and utilization of military skills,
organization, and training among troops far different from that required for ‘civilized’ warfare
in Europe
The tactics and lessons derived from one ‘small war’ were seldom applicable to another and
accounted sometimes for European defeats at the hands of local populations employing
tactics adapted to the terrain that nullified the superiority in small arms
The division of Africa and Asia between the European powers at the end of the First World
War brought an end to the era of ‘small wars’
The consolidation and defense of imperial possessions became the predominant concern
and for this a purely military response to colonial warfare was ill-suited
The military was forced to work closely with the civil authorities in a subordinate role to exploit
and control colonial possessions in Africa and Asia against nationalist and revolutionary
movements, rioting, and communal disturbances
The ideas of Gwyunn, who evolved a number of principles for regulating the use of the army
in imperial policing, and the efforts of colonial authorities to contain local discontent met with
some successes and seemed adequate for a short while, however, by the outbreak of the
Second World War growing local restiveness had helped serve notice to the European
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War October 8th, 2015
powers that colonial control would require increasing numbers of men, material, and political
will-power in order to maintain imperial rule
By the end of the Second World War the colonial powers had been weakened both
economically and politically
Retention of overseas possessions by continuing military technological dominance was
challenged by local leaders employing the methods of guerrilla warfare, and seeking to
exploit their own geographical and demographical advantages
Political struggle involves the mobilization of the population resources for the guerrillas and
against the enemy the mobilized population would be the sea in which the guerrilla fish
would swim; it would provide food, shelter, and intelligence for the roving guerrilla bands
while, at the same time, the political mobilization process would ensure that the authority and
residual legitimacy of the colonial power be steadily undermined
This could never be a rapid process, but neither on the military level were the guerrillas
seeking quick solutions
The tactic was to exploit the environment in which the technological superiority of the enemy
could not be brought to bear and in which the guerilla would seek tactical advantages,
attacking and retreating when opportunities availed and necessities demanded
Throughout the developing world, guerilla operations helped undermine European and
American power and encouraged the move towards independence especially amongst Asian
and African states
With few exceptions, European and American militaries had greater difficulties in mastering
this form of combat
Significantly, termination of the imperial presence did not lead to the end of guerrilla warfare,
and this very successful method of fighting continued to be employed with equally
destructive results in many domestic and regional Third World disputes
For the Americans, the concept of limited war had never really been intended to apply to
these sort of conflicts
Their purpose was to use it in conventional campaigns waged against enemies backed by the
Soviet Union but in circumstances in which both Moscow and Washington had a stake in
preventing the extension of the conflict or escalation into total war
The wars of national liberation resulted in independence but not in peace
The newly sovereign states were from the start beset by problems of political legitimacy,
economic development, and territorial sovereignty
Until the late 1980s they were also caught up in the midst of superpower competition with the
result that not only were there major causes of conflict, but there existed patrons ready to
supply weaponry with which to prosecute these wars
While in the 1950s and the 1960s the major weapons supplies to the Third World such as
the US, USSR, and the European states tended to transfer second-rate items, by the 1980s
the quality of weaponry transferred was sometimes on par with that found in the industrialized
world’s arsenals
It is therefore not surprising that conflicts in the Third World have been characterized by an
increasing level of destructiveness
The diffusion of defense capabilities contributes at the same time to the erosion of the early
postwar system of imperial or hegemonic roles formerly played by the major powers around
the globe
The search by developing states to expand their military and political power has also over the
past 3 decades taken on an even more dangerous turn with efforts to acquire weapons of
mass destruction nuclear, chemical, and biological munitions
With these weapons the destructive capabilities of a number of Third World states have
increased immeasurably and the consequences are already being felt domestically,
regionally, and internationally
Now, not only will power projection into parts of the Third World be potentially more
expensive, but theoretically at least, a growing number of developing countries have the
option of doing great damage in the industrialized world itself
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