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

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9781933648774: Washington's War: The American War of Independence to the Iraqi Insurgency
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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. 12 black-and-white illustrations

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About 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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Decorated British military officer Rose, commander of UN forces in Bosnia in the 1990s, has lately been an outspoken critic of the Blair and Bush administrations. Here, he compares the recent situation in Iraq to the American Revolutionary War, arguing that the U.S. present position in Iraq is as unsustainable as the British position in the colonies came to be in the earlier war. This is a comparison that many have observed but few have endeavored to truly probe, perhaps because of the inherent audacity of likening much-demonized Iraqi insurgents to the mythologized Founding Fathers. Rose pulls it off, however, by drawing on his military expertise and sticking to strategic- and tactical-level decisions in noting similarities, and by staying focused on the eighteenth century, resisting the temptation to overstate his case. Emphasizing Washington’s reluctant yet effective education in insurgent tactics, this selection sometimes seems more like a brief and pithy military history of the Revolutionary War than it does a fiery deployment of historical analogy. --Brendan Driscoll

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