Colonial Warfare, pt 1
Killed a lot of wogs
Things fall apart....
Reading the newest Harper's (December issue; not on-line yet, more's the pity). A review by Greg Grandin of Niall Ferguson's Colossus: The Price of America's Empire. According to Grandin, there's quite a price to be paid.
Ferguson's argument is that we (Americans) just aren't ruthless enough, yet. Which means, yes, we could have won in Vietnam, if we'd just had the belly for it. Now America faces "the growing power of liberalism" (don't you all feel better now?), which prevents us from exercising our true authority as the benevolent Empire the Romans...oh, sorry, the British, once were.
How to overcome this and other obstacles to the Pax Americana? Apparently by reining in the deficit by cutting Social Security and Medicare spending. The "less privileged" (Grandin's words, now) would be made: "leaner and meaner, more willing to shoulder the burdens of empire. Just as poverty drove the Irish and Scots into Britain's colonial army, 'illegal immigrants, the jobless,' and 'convicts' could help fill the ranks of Washington's imperial legion." (Apparently Jonathan Swift and Jeremiah were both wrong: poverty is good for sovereigns!). "Ferguson is especially enthusiastic that African Americans might become 'the Celts of the American Empire.' And once he dispense with what here passes for social democracy, he sets his sights on political democracy. Successful empires, Ferguson writes, require 'the resolve of the masters and the consent of the subjects.'"
According to Grandin, Ferguson is the "darling of the American media." Great. Wolf Blitzer's late night reading, I suppose. Makes one glad Bush isn't much of a reader; but he's surrounded by people who are, and who would take this half-baked crock of "thought" seriously. Which is what worries me. The "fringe" is moving more and more toward the center; which means, indeed, that the center cannot hold.
Too bad Mr. Ferguson only got the edited version of colonial warfare. The one where the British won. Because that isn't the real history.
Here's a quick list of the obvious
Here are some maxims of colonial warfare the US will painfully relearn:
1.Most Arabs don't want to be `liberated' or what President Bush calls `freedom.' They want freedom from US occupation, and freedom for Palestine.
2.People will accept misrule, robbery, abuse, and torture by their own fellow citizens — but not by foreigners.
3.The occupying power will always find locals ready to cooperate and join the colonial police and army for money. Ten percent will serve loyally; 50% will do nothing. The rest will covertly fight the occupiers, provide the resistance with intelligence, or quietly sabotage the occupation.
4.Most of those who cooperate with the occupation will maintain secret links with the resistance. Massive defections will occur the minute the occupiers show the first signs of thinking about withdrawal.
5.Tribal, clan, ethnic and religious loyalties will also prove stronger than political ones imposed by the occupier. You cannot buy loyalty; you can only rent it.
6.An inevitable byproduct of colonial adventures is an unwanted, usually massive influx of people from the conquered country.
7.Colonial occupations almost always cost far more than planned and produce negative earnings for the invader. Occupying Iraq and Afghanistan now costs at least US $6 billion monthly. The costs of garrisoning and running colonies usually exceeds what can be looted from them.
8.It's always cheaper to buy resources than plunder them. The Soviets thought they would pay for their invasion of Afghanistan by stealing its natural gas. The Washington neo-conservatives who engineered the Iraq war ludicrously claimed its stolen oil would fully cover the costs of invasion and occupation.
9.Guerilla wars waged among civilians inevitably produce hatred for occupiers and corrupt the invaders. Torture, brutality, mass reprisals against civilians, and black marketeering become epidemic, even among the best-discipline troops. The longer occupation troops stay on, the more they become corrupted, brutalized, and addicted to drugs — so do the nations that sent them.
10.Americans make poor colonialists. They lack the historical and cultural knowledge, subtlety, patience and Third World street smarts to be first-rate colonizers, like the French or British. They lack the ruthlessness and brutality of Dutch, Japanese, Spaniards, or Russian colonialists. Or the ability to blend with the local population, as did Portugese.
Colonial Wars were bloody long and only temporarily quelled uprisings.
Here's a list of the 19th Century's colonial wars
Cape Frontier Wars
The Great Trek
British in Abyssinia
1st & 2nd Ashanti Wars
Egyptians in Abyssinia
Rise of the Mahdists
Transvaal or 1st Boer War
Zulu Civil War
Gordon Relief Expedition
Mahdist Invasion of Abyssinia
Mahdist Invasion of Egypt
The French in Dahomeay
The Batetelan Uprisings
Italian Invasion of Abyssinia
French Conquest of Chad
Great (2nd) Boer War (South African War)
Fall of the Mahdists
Afghan Invasion of the Punjab
Annexation of Sind
Sikh Invasion of Tibet
1st Afghan War
1st & 2nd Sikh Wars
2nd Burmese War
2nd Afghan War
Police Actions in Burma
Russian Invasion of Afghanistan
3rd Burma War
1st Opium War
2nd China or Opium War (Arrow War)
Rogue River Wars
Southern Plains War
The Maximillian Adventure/French Intervention in Mexico
Red River War
Nez Perce War
The Spanish-American War
The French in Annam
posted by Steve @ 3:00:00 AM