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Post The Non-State Soldier: Planning a New Course
Created by John Eipper on 09/27/19 3:08 AM

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The Non-State Soldier: Planning a New Course (Brian Blodgett, USA, 09/27/19 3:08 am)

Hello everyone. I have to revise a very old course that I never taught on the Non-State Soldier and am soliciting some information on what you would include in this course. It is a Military Studies course and the course description is:

This course is a study of militant foreign ethnic/religious groups not outwardly affiliated with a sovereign state. Students address specific individuals and groups as case studies in order to draw out the implications and principles associated with actual non-state military, terrorist, events and actions. Focus is on the individuals and cells that carry out the military and terrorist plans to further insurgencies and revolutions.

Any suggestions / topics, etc. are welcome!

JE comments:  Building a course syllabus from scratch is exciting.  It's like planning a dinner party, but without the dirty dishes afterwards.  Brian, your WAIS friends and colleagues want to help.  For primary sources, I put in a vote for Ernesto Che Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare, which gives a clear theory of the strategies and tactics of asymmetrical warfare.  It's also freely available on-line.  For secondary studies, consider our own David A Westbrook's Deploying Ourselves (2011), a passionate and very intelligent call for re-thinking the US response to non-state militant groups.

Other suggestions?  In the meantime, Brian Blodgett also sent this link to his essay on the proliferation of wildfires, which appeared last month in the EDM Digest.  He had published a preliminary version on WAIS.  Congratulations, Brian!

https://edmdigest.com/original/us-act-control-wildfires/

 


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  • The Non-State Soldier: Suggested Readings (Timothy Brown, USA 09/28/19 3:54 AM)
    Professor Brian Blodgett (September 27th) has brought up a fascinating and very important theme. I look forward to seeing his syllabus.

    Having dealt both professionally and academically with a few armed non-state militant organizations over the decades, from Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, French Guiana, Suriname and Paraguay, let me venture a few of my perhaps unorthodox views, beginning with Ernesto "Che" Guevara.


    By all means include Ernesto "Che" Guevara's Guerrilla Warfare, since virtually everything he did in the field was directly opposite to what no competent guerrilla commander would have done--establish a fixed HQ near a busy roadway, communicated for extended periods over antenna that had not been remoted but placed close to his HQ for extended periods. No competent guerrilla would ever have done any of these things. But "Che" did, and he got himself killed because he'd made himself extraordinarily easy to locate.


    If it were in English I'd recommend instead "Benigno" (Dariel Alarcón Ramírez) Vida y muerte de la Revolución, Barcelona: 1997. I can almost hear the bewildered saying to themselves, "who"? Well, Benigno was with Guevara during the Cuban revolution and his top field commander in Bolivia. After playing a role in the so-called "Bay of Pigs," he defected to France where he met up with a comrade you may have heard of, Elisabeth Burgos Debray, a Venezuelan revolutionary who evaded the authorities there, escaped to Cuba where she married French Marxist Regis Debray, was trained in guerrilla warfare alongside him and became a key member of "Che's" clandestine support cell in La Paz and later "ex-filtrated" to Paris. During a trip to the US when she deposited her personal collection in the Hoover Archives, I videotaped her story and she gave me a copy of "Benigno," its actual author.


    Of course, this leads to a bit of self-promotion of my own book When the AK-47s Fall Silent--Revolutionaries, Guerrillas and the Dangers of Peace, Hoover, 2000. Chapters 2-6 are by former senior Marxist revolutionaries. Chapters 7-10 by former ERN (popularly, and successfully, labeled as the much-hated "Contras"), and chapters 11-14 by four that had engaged in post-hostility work in Nicaragua (a former US Ambassador to Colombia, a Canadian General, and OAS peacemaker--and yours truly.


    More--or no more--later, if you're still interested.


    JE comments:  Elisabeth Burgos-Debray is famous as the author-amanuensis of Nobel Laureate Rigoberta Menchú's testimonio autobiography.  Tim, you first mentioned your meeting with Burgos in this 1999 WAIS post.  That was a long time ago, but can you tell us more?  Yes...I'm still interested!


    https://waisworld.org/go.jsp?id=02a&objectType=post&o=65321&objectTypeId=59571&topicId=152


    WAISers love putting together reading lists, and I have several responses to Brian Blodgett's request.  Next:  Harry Papasotiriou writes from Athens.


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    • Elisabeth Burgos (Timothy Brown, USA 09/29/19 4:02 AM)
      In response to John E's question, I haven't seen Elisabeth Burgos since my last trip to Paris some years ago. I first met her when she was donating her research collection to the Hoover Archives, when I videotaped an interviewed her on her experiences on a one-on-one Oral History, after realizing she had been misled by her own "comrades" into saying Rigoberta Menchú had never taken up arms, when in fact she was once an armed Guatemalan revolutionary.

      Had that been known, Menchú would not have been eligible for a Nobel Peace Prize. When some time later Menchú used her Nobel Prize renown to run for the presidency in Guatemala, her fellow Guatemala Maya villagers voted against her. It was their votes that defeated her.


      JE comments:  Tim, I was aware from David Stoll's exposé that Menchú was not truthful in her testimonial account, but how do we know she took up arms?  (My recollection is that her father did.)  Has your interview with Burgos ever been made public?  If not, it looks like I'm overdue for another trip to the Hoover archives.


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  • Non-State Soldiers: Max Boot and Mao Zedong (Harry Papasotiriou, Greece 09/28/19 4:28 AM)

    On non-state soldiers, Max Boot's Invisible Armies is a monumental recent historical survey. Mao Zedong (Tse Tung) has written very insightfully on guerrilla warfare and some of his texts are available online.


    JE comments:  Boot's book is described as the Clausewitz of the 21st century.  Google it and see for yourself (!).  My reading list just grew by one entry.


    May I make a prediction?  All warfare of the 21st century will involve an "invisible army" on at least one of the sides. When was the last old-school war involving two standing armies?  Probably the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.  The conventional phase lasted one month.

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  • Fighting the Guerrilla: Readings (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/28/19 7:09 AM)
    One of the best books on guerrilla is The Guerrilla and How to Fight Him, selections from the Marine Corps Gazette edited by Lieutenant Colonel T. N. Greene, 1962.

    This book is of course very old, but it is a must for understanding the old guerrillas and then proceed to understand the new ones.


    JE comments:  Eugenio, can you give us a summary of Greene's tactics?  As for combating the guerrilla, is there any approach other than a gentle "hearts and minds" campaign on the one hand, or a scorched-earth mano dura on the other?  Both are probably ineffective.

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    • T. N. Greene's "The Guerrilla and How to Fight Him" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/29/19 4:30 AM)
      For me it is impossible to briefly summarize T N Greene's counter-guerrilla tactics.

      The book is a selection of essays from the Marine Corps Gazette, not an essay entirely by Greene. It is divided into 6 parts:


      1) The theory and the threat, including Mao's Primer on Guerrilla War and other essays


      2) Winning in the Mountains: Greece


      3) Winning in the Jungle: Malaya. This contains measures in the guerrilla zone, such as resettlement of peoples and rationing food.  Food in cans was given but each receiver had to open his/her can on receipt so it couldn't later be given to the guerrillas.


      4) Losing in the Jungle: Indochina. Features an essay of General Vo Nguyen Giap


      5) War, Revolution and Terror: Russia, Cuba and Cyprus


      6) Small Units win Small Wars


      The book contains a very rich list of recommended reading for all points, including books by Mao, Giap, Che Guevara, various military and scholars and a book by historian Robert M. Kennedy (nothing to do with Bob Kennedy).


      All the additional selections from the Marine Corps Gazette were available from University Microfilms, 313 North First Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan.


      JE comments:  University Microfilms is now ProQuest, and it moved to the Ann Arbor suburbs.  (Microfilms have gone the way of the punch card.  I can still hear the whirring and clicking sounds of a film reader from my graduate school days.)


      I'm curious about Greene's Chapter 4, "Losing in the Jungle."  Were they referring to the French?  In 1962 the United States was just getting started in Indochina.


       

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  • More Readings on Guerrilla Warfare (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 09/28/19 9:17 AM)
    Regarding Brian Blodgett's request for recommendations for a course on non-state soldiers, besides books by Spanish-speaking authors I remember a couple of books in English.  Some time ago I used to read widely on this subject.

    Although these texts do not specifically concern ethnic or religious ideologies, which I understand to be the objective of Brian's course, they are interesting case studies. The first is On Guerilla Warfare by Mao Tse Tung, a classic to learn about guerrilla movements, terrorism in general, and how they should be conducted. The second book is called Urban Guerrilla. Unfortunately I do not recall the author, but it was a good reference for guerrilla warfare in urban environments, such the Tupamaros in Uruguay.


    There is another book about the Colombian guerrilla FARC, The FARC: The Longest Insurgency by Garry Leech, a most interesting study.


    JE comments:  Nacho, do you mean Carlos Marighella's Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla?  Marighella (1911-1969) was a Brazilian Marxist revolutionary killed in São Paulo during a police operation.

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