Hearts and minds: the myth and reality of British counter-insurgency

Newsinger, J (2015) 'Hearts and minds: the myth and reality of British counter-insurgency.' International Socialism, 148. ISSN 0020-8736

Official URL: http://isj.org.uk/hearts-and-minds/


Up until ten years ago the British army boasted of an expertise in counter-insurgency warfare from which other armies could learn. Whereas the French had suffered humiliating defeats in Indo-China and Algeria and the United States had been driven out of Vietnam, the British had defeated Communist insurgency in Malaya. Moreover, in their wars, both the French and US militaries had disgraced themselves by their excesses, their use of torture and their disproportionate use of fire-power. By way of contrast, the British had developed a methodology for conducting counter-insurgency that had kept their hands clean. Despite some ups and downs, this methodology had in the end even prevailed in Northern Ireland. Two of the key elements of this supposed methodology were “minimum force” and “hearts and minds”. This British claim to expertise was to become particularly influential in the US after the invasion of Iraq where, once the scale of the debacle began to become clear, there was a desperate search for the key to defeating insurgency.

Item Type: Article

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Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2017 16:29
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2021 09:44
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/8794
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