Washington's War: The American War of Independence to the Iraqi Insurgency

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Overview

Michael Rose exposes a grim reality: Iraqi insurgents have adopted the same guerrilla warfare tactics used during the American Revolution.

In June 1775, George Washington commanded a band of rebels who were, in the eyes of the British, nothing more than a collection of "vagrants, deserters and thieves." Yet he led them in a revolution against the British, which ended with an American victory. Washington succeeded in defeating the most powerful army in the world—not by engaging ...

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Overview

Michael Rose exposes a grim reality: Iraqi insurgents have adopted the same guerrilla warfare tactics used during the American Revolution.

In June 1775, George Washington commanded a band of rebels who were, in the eyes of the British, nothing more than a collection of "vagrants, deserters and thieves." Yet he led them in a revolution against the British, which ended with an American victory. Washington succeeded in defeating the most powerful army in the world—not by engaging in conventional warfare, at which the British excelled, but by waging an insurgency campaign of ambush and indirect attacks.

In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, and in the years that have followed, America has found itself fighting a widespread popular insurrection with an army trained for conventional warfare. Like King George and his advisers, President Bush and his cabinet misunderstood the nature of the problem facing them and underestimated its scale. Both imperial Britain and modern American failed to commit enough troops early on, nor could they resolve the dilemmas of counter-insurgency: how to wage military action and isolate the insurgents without alienating the local population. The British Army learned from its mistakes to remain a dominant world power; the Americans, by contrast, seem to be forgetting the lessons of their founding fathers.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

A former commander of the UN Protection Force in Bosnia, Rose (Fighting for Peace: Bosnia '94) analyzes and compares American policies in the Iraq War with those Britain used during the America Revolution, focusing on both countries' approaches to combating insurgents. Rose draws parallels between Britain's inability to understand what motivated American rebels and George W. Bush's misunderstanding of Islamic insurgents in Iraq. Ultimately, Rose's focus is more on the American Revolution than the Iraq War. Prone to general statements, he writes that the loyalties of irregular forces cannot necessarily be relied on: some will move to the winning side; some may become uncommitted. He applies a theory about the Continental fighters in the American Revolution to Iraq: that the local population may be roughly divided into thirds-one-third in favor of the insurgents, one-third siding with the ruling powers, and one-third uncommitted. As a brief history, the text is fine, but more rigorous explication of and comparison to the conflict in Iraq would have helped orient readers. Still, Rose makes several good points, both historical and in criticism of our current policies in Iraq. Suitable for public libraries.
—Matthew J. Wayman

Kirkus Reviews
The former commander of United Nations forces in Bosnia examines two wars more than 200 years apart to demonstrate how a small group of determined insurgents can defeat a superpower. Recently, political commentators have likened the Iraq War to America's previous misadventure in Vietnam or even to the ancient Athenian campaign in Sicily. Rose (Fighting for Peace: Bosnia, 1994, 1998), however, says that it's more akin to Great Britain's misbegotten attempt to forcibly quash the rebellion of her 13 North American colonies in 1776. His admittedly imperfect analogy-he concedes that "enlightened political views" distinguished the American rebels from the extremists of today-yields a number of striking similarities, especially when the author focuses on military tactics and strategy. Rose explains how George Washington, confronting the 18th century's most powerful army, learned never to fight on too many fronts simultaneously, to send ill-equipped troops against superior forces or to accept a set-piece battle. Today's Iraqi insurgents, he argues, have learned these lessons well, as each day's headlines about suicide bombers or improvised explosive devices demonstrate. Rose further explains how Britain, from the outset failing to understand the nature of its enemy, never deployed sufficient troops to subdue the vast American continent. Moreover, a succession of generals (Howe, Burgoyne, Clinton, Cornwallis) failed to efficiently employ the troops available. Unable to provide the security necessary to pacify the populace, the British army found itself isolated from the people, cut off from crucial intelligence and vulnerable to the guerrilla tactics of the patriots. Though Rose admits that eventsmay overtake his analysis-the word "surge" doesn't appear till the book's three-quarter mark, and the name "Petraeus" only once-he predicts that America will be forced to withdraw from Iraq as Britain did from America, recognizing that its objectives can no longer be achieved and that the war's ghastly cost threatens its global power position. A sharp, efficient discussion likely to interest military historians as well as general readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933648774
  • Publisher: Pegasus
  • Publication date: 4/15/2008
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

General Sir Michael Rose commanded the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment from 1979-1982, where he was directly involved in the London Iranian Embassy siege and the Falkland Island War. From 1994-1995 he commanded the United Nations forces in Bosnia, after which he became Adjutant General of the British Army. Now retired in London, he writes and lectures on peacekeeping and leadership.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 22, 2008

    Refreshing look at the War in Iraq in light of the American War of Independence.

    General Sir Michael Rose penned a well thought out comparison between the American War of Independence and the War in Iraq. It's striking the comparisons between these two wars despite the 220+ years separating these two events.<BR/><BR/>This book is a must read for the military history fan and should be included in the professional military readings for all US services.

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