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Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare from the Philippines to Iraq
     

Jungle of Snakes: A Century of Counterinsurgency Warfare from the Philippines to Iraq

by James R. Arnold
 

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A gripping history of a new kind of warfare, with sobering lessons for America's future.

The end of the cold war promised a new era of international peace. But instead, violence has proliferated across the globe, not in the form of a superpower arms race or a clash of armies, but in bitter local conflicts marked by terrorism, insurgency

Overview

A gripping history of a new kind of warfare, with sobering lessons for America's future.

The end of the cold war promised a new era of international peace. But instead, violence has proliferated across the globe, not in the form of a superpower arms race or a clash of armies, but in bitter local conflicts marked by terrorism, insurgency, and guerrilla warfare. Former Central Intelligence Agency director James Woolsey likened the post-cold-war world to "a jungle full of snakes." The emergence of this new, potentially never-ending struggle has forced our military to reevaluate strategies or risk losing hearts, minds, and soldiers the world over.

James Arnold delivers a gripping narrative of a century of counterinsurgent warfare, from the Philippine War to present-day Iraq, analyzing wars won and lost: the British in Malaya, the French in Algeria, and the United S tates in Vietnam. Arnold explains the tug-of-war for civilian support and illustrates the high stakes of any counterinsurgency effort. The epilogue examines the occupation of Iraq, where America, to its cost, ignored the lessons of previous conflicts.

A veteran military historian, Arnold combines storytelling ability with strategic insight. Jungle of Snakes will be essential reading for those who want to understand the ongoing series of struggles that the Pentagon calls "the Long War."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Delivers needed insight and historical precedent to the current war debate.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A thoughtful history…[Arnold] makes a convincing case that killing insurgents never defeats an insurgency. That happens when a nation's population feels safe, a painful lesson that America is relearning the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan.” —Publishers Weekly

Eliot A. Cohen
…useful to learn the fundamentals, competently summarizing past counterinsurgency campaigns in the Philippines, Algeria, Malaya and Vietnam, but offering few striking insights. Read it if you want to learn the basics of the American CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support) program in Vietnam, for example, or learn who tortured whom in the Battle of Algiers.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

This is a thoughtful history of two successful counterinsurgency campaigns (the Philippines after 1898 and Malaya 1948-1960) and two failures (Algeria 1954-1962 and Vietnam). According to Arnold (Tet Offensive 1968), in the Philippines, the entire U.S. army of 70,000 spent a decade brutally suppressing a poorly equipped, almost leaderless rebellion. The British campaign in Malaya enjoyed the priceless advantage that the insurgents were Chinese, a minority and traditionally hated by the majority Malays. Despite this, victory took 12 bloody years. French forces had overwhelmed Algerian rebels when French President De Gaulle ordered a withdrawal, having decided the political cost of remaining in a hostile country was too great. And American troops in Vietnam killed so many Vietcong that North Vietnamese troops took over most of the fighting, but the civilians never trusted the government to protect them-and all insurgencies feed off this failure, notes Arnold. The author makes a convincing case that killing insurgents never defeats an insurgency. That happens when a nation's population feels safe, a painful lesson that America is relearning the hard way in Iraq and Afghanistan. B&w illus. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Arnold examines five insurgencies, including the Philippines over 100 years ago, as well as Malaya, Algeria, Vietnam, and Iraq, i.e., insurgencies countered variously by U.S., French, and British forces. He attempts to bring some general principles to light, e.g., the notion that information is important and that whoever can best control its flow has a great advantage in motivating the populace. For subject collections.


—Edwin B. Burgess
Kirkus Reviews
Military historian Arnold (Crisis in the Snows: Russia Confronts Napoleon: The Eylau Campaign 1806-1807, 2007, etc.) studies past insurgency responses to help clarify the U.S. efforts in Iraq. The author investigates four counterinsurgencies that either proved successful in putting down rebellion-the United States in the Philippines following war with Spain in 1898; the British response to the Malayan Emergency in 1948-or disastrous-the French invasion of Algeria in 1830; the U.S. quagmire in Vietnam-and offers lessons to be drawn from them. For each case, Arnold sketches a brief history of the country and how its nationalist sentiments played out against the wishes of the colonial occupiers. Gaining the support of the civilian population became a basic thrust of counterinsurgency, which Sir Gerald Templer handily phrased during the crisis in Malaya as "winning hearts and minds." Indeed, the model set by the British response in Malaya, which included the implementation of schools and elections, proved winning in "hitching the forces of nationalism to an emerging democratic Malay state." Moreover, the British quelled the rebellion within the rules of law rather than by the use of brutality and acts of terror, which would factor heavily in the French loss of Algeria. Gaining public support at home was also crucial, as America shakily learned during the insurrection in the Philippines, and abdicated completely during the Vietnam War. The mastery of intelligence, understanding the native culture and language and being committed to a long, bloody stay would become important counterinsurgency standards as well. In his valuable conclusion, "Reflections on a War Without End," Arnold quotes Romanstatesman Cicero, who in 44 BCE said, "an army abroad is of little use unless there is wise counsel at home."A reasonably argued work that delivers needed insight and historical precedent to the current war debate.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781596915039
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
06/03/2009
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

James R. Arnold is the author of Tet Offensive 1968: Turning Point in Vietnam, The First Domino, Presidents Under Fire, and several other books. He resides in Lexington, Virginia.

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