The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945-1967

Hardcover | October 20, 2011

byDavid French

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The claim by the Ministry of Defence in 2001 that "the experience of numerous small wars has provided the British Army with a unique insight into this demanding form of conflict" unravelled spectacularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. One important reason for that, David French suggests, was becausecontemporary British counter-insurgency doctrine was based upon a serious misreading of the past. Until now, many observers believed that during the wars of decolonisation in the two decades after 1945, the British had discovered how western liberal notions of right and wrong could be made compatible with the imperatives of waging war amongst the people, that force could be used effectively butwith care, and that a more just and prosperous society could emerge from these struggles. By using only the minimum necessary force, and doing so with the utmost discrimination, the British were able to win by securing the "hearts and minds" of the people. But this was a serious distortion of actualBritish practice on the ground. David French's main contention is that the British hid their use of naked force behind a carefully constructed veneer of legality. In reality, they commonly used wholesale coercion, including cordon and search operations, mass detention without trial, forciblepopulation resettlement, and the creation of free-fire zones to intimidate and lock-down the civilian population. The British waged their counter-insurgency campaigns by being nasty, not nice, to the people. The British Way in Counter-Insurgency is a seminal reassessment of the historical foundation of British counter doctrine and practice.

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The claim by the Ministry of Defence in 2001 that "the experience of numerous small wars has provided the British Army with a unique insight into this demanding form of conflict" unravelled spectacularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. One important reason for that, David French suggests, was becausecontemporary British counter-insurgency doc...

David French was at the University of York and the War Studies Department at King's College London. He spent 27 years at University College London before taking early retirement in 2008 to become a full-time writer. Professor French is the author of six previous books, and has been the recipient of the Arthur Goodzeit Prize of the New ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.98 inPublished:October 20, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199587965

ISBN - 13:9780199587964

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsList of AbbreviationsIntroduction1. The Colonial State2. Gangsters, Thugs, and Bandits: the Enemies of the Colonial State3. The Legal Context and Counter-insurgency by Committee4. Varieties of Coercion: Exemplary Force, Counter-terrorism, and Population Control5. Britain's "Dirty Wars"?6. Winning Hearts and Minds7. Counter-insurgency and the Learning Curve8. The Problems of SustainabilityConclusionBibliographyIndex