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In the wake of the September 11th horror, nothing could be timelier than this exploration of world terrorism and the forces that fight it—armies and missions often shrouded in mystery. A foremost expert on guerrilla warfare presents, for the first time, a comprehensive investigation of covert military operations from Vietnam to Afghanistan. Among the revelations: that the CIA handed out shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles "like lollipops" to Osama bin Laden and other mujahadeen leaders, weapons they may now turn against us; how British SAS operated inside Afghanistan against the Russians and used "former special forces" personnel for clandestine missions; why secret militia and locally recruited fighters successfully defeated guerrillas and terrorists in Oman, Malaya, and Borneo, but could not in Indochina and Algeria; and how "fighting dirty" sometimes meant helping drug dealers in exchange for their support. Most relevant is the detailed analysis of why Russia failed to conquer Afghanistan, what we can learn from their experience, and the perils awaiting any invader.
Posted May 22, 2003
Peter Harclerode, a historian of special forces, presents the simple-minded anti-communist version of history to try to justify the appalling story of state terrorism that he tells here. He writes, ¿The Soviet Union and China ¿ turned to pursue their own ambitions which, along with those of emerging nationalist movements, posed new global threats during the late 1940s and early 1950s by supporting revolution, insurrection and ultimately war in Eastern Europe, the Baltic, the Balkans, Indochina, Malaya and Korea.¿ The special forces operated in the British and French empires, or in countries where progressive forces had taken power. The special forces waged counter-revolutionary, aggressive wars, supporting empires and capitalism, against national liberation struggles. Harclerode gives detailed accounts of wars in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states 1947-56, Albania 1949-54, Indochina 1950-54, Malaya 1948-58, Korea 1950-53, Algeria 1954-62, Borneo 1962-66, Tibet 1956-74, Oman 1958-76, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos 1954-71, and Afghanistan 1979-2001. He omits the CIA operations in Hungary, Angola, Kenya, Jamaica, Cuba and Nicaragua. The CIA and MI6 operated in Eastern Europe, the SAS in the Empire. France¿s Action Service operated in France¿s empire in Indochina and Algeria. The CIA fought the USA¿s secret war in Tibet, which has always been part of China. A CIA unit, the Saigon Military Mission, organised terrorism in Vietnam and Laos, breaking the Geneva Accords. The CIA and MI6 started funding, arming and training terrorists to attack the progressive government in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet Union sent forces to defend the government. These terrorists later went to the USA, Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya. The US and British states consistently built up terrorists like bin Laden, to fight national liberation struggles led by people like Ho Chi Minh. But the terrorists, like the special forces, were expendable. As the US Director of Central Intelligence, Admiral Turner, said, ¿it was permissible to use other people¿s lives for the geopolitical interests of the US.¿ A great revolutionary wrote, ¿To die for the people in weightier than Mount Tai, but to work for the fascists and for the exploiters and oppressors is lighter than a feather.¿Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.