Hearts and Minds

Hearts and Minds

A People's History of Counterinsurgency

Book - 2013
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The first book of its kind, Hearts and Minds is a scathing response to the grand narrative of U.S. counterinsurgency, in which warfare is defined not by military might alone but by winning the "hearts and minds" of civilians. Dormant as a tactic since the days of the Vietnam War, in 2006 the U.S. Army drafted a new field manual heralding the resurrection of counterinsurgency as a primary military engagement strategy; counterinsurgency campaigns followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the fact that counterinsurgency had utterly failed to account for the actual lived experiences of the people whose hearts and minds America had sought to win.

Drawing on leading thinkers in the field and using key examples from Malaya, the Philippines, Vietnam, El Salvador, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Hearts and Minds brings a long-overdue focus on the many civilians caught up in these conflicts. Both urgent and timely, this important book challenges the idea of a neat divide between insurgents and the populations from which they emerge--and should be required reading for anyone engaged in the most important contemporary debates over U.S. military policy.
Publisher: New York : New Press, 2013.
ISBN: 9781595588258
Branch Call Number: 355.0218 HEA
Characteristics: viii, 273 pages :,illustrations ;,21 cm --.
Additional Contributors: Gurman, Hannah


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This book is a collection of essays describing how counterinsurgency campaigns have not worked in various countries: Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, El Salvador, Iraq and Afghanistan. The one that is usually trotted out as a success is the British in Malaya in the 1950s. There the British created a series of concentration camps where food was used as a weapon to coerce compliance. The chapter on Vietnam is excellent. But the two chapters each on Iraq and Afghanistan really bring home the bankruptcy of counterinsurgency doctrine. In the former, the U.S. prevented itself from being overrun and kicked out of country by fomenting a sectarian civil war; in the latter, it is widely accepted if not broadly stated, that the U.S. invasion has been an abject failure.

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