ISSUE IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS | WAR | GUERRILLA WARFARE



1.         WAR
1.1       Introduction and Background
1.2       Total War
Total war is a war of unlimited scope in which a belligerent engage in the mobilization of all available resources at one’s disposal whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological or otherwise in order to entirely destroy the enemy or at best render beyond use the capacity of the enemy to continue its resistance or to inflict damage. The practice of total war has been in use for centuries but it was only in the middle to late 19th century that total war was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare. In total war, there is no differentiation between combatants (civilians). Every human resources, civilians and soldiers alike are considered to be part of the belligerent effort.

The earliest example of a well documented total war was the Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta form 431-404 BC. This war lasted for several years and consumed vast economic and human resources of both sides. Atrocities were committed on a scale never seen before in war. The result of this war was that the entire Greek world was reshaped. A region once known for its wealth and prosperity was weakened and subdued, the entire land laid waste. Edward Gunn holds the view that the Greek world never recovered from the effect of the war to this day.
During the middle Age, the Mongols in the 14th century practiced total war. Many conflicts that raged in Europe during the 16th century took the characteristics of total war. The thirty year war, 1618-1648 in which all European power got involved in one way or the other was a total war. This saw to the rise in the size and training as well as maintenance of the armed forces of sovereign states.
The First World War saw the complete mobilization of the whole of Europe. Young men were pulled away form production jobs and other engagement to serve in the armed forces. The whole economies of the participating countries were geared towards the war efforts. All forms of strategies were employed to facilitate the capitulation of the other side.
The Second World War can be considered the classical total war of the modern era. The level of national mobilization of resources on all sides was unprecedented. There was large scale conscription, active targeting of civilians and civilians property, the mobilization of armies naval and air forces clearly marked total war on multi-continental scale. The Second World War saw the total mobilization of the entire population men, women and children for full participation in the war.
Since, the end of the Second World War, no industrial nation have fought a total war because of the availability of weapons of mass destruction. These weapons are so destructive that their use would offset the advantage of victory. Total war in an era of nuclear weapon would last only hours or days at most. By the end of 1950s the cold war atmosphere between the US and the USSR has seen to the large scale build up of nuclear weapons aimed at each other. Strategically, the balance of destructive capabilities posed by each side known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). The underlying motive here is that a nuclear attack by one side would result in a nuclear counter strike by the other.
During the cold war, the superpowers avoided open conflict with one another. This is because of the realization that an open confrontation could easily escalate into what may involve the use of nuclear weapons. The superpowers instead resorted to proxy wars, military build ups and diplomatic confrontations.

1.3       Limited war
A limited war is a conflict in which the belligerents do not expand al the available resources at their disposal in the prosecution of the war. Such resources could be human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural etc. Limited war is often a war of specific nature. In a limited war, there is conscious effort to preserve resources for other purpose since the war is not seen as an end in itself. In a limited war, there are specific targets of attack and all such targets must be military targets or installations. Such targets may include ammunition dumps and factories, the armonsy, supply networks of the army including bridges and airports as well as other areas of considered to be of strategic importance to country’s successful execution of war. Non military institutions, water resources, schools, hospitals, religious places and artifacts, industrial economic concerns must be spared.
The aim of limited war is not often to bring about a total surrender of the other side but to undermine the operational capabilities of the enemy, as this could bring about a more speedy settlement of the conflict. In a limited war, combatants are at greater pains to adhere strictly to the laws of war and armed conflict because those who flout this or engage in atrocities are bound to face the consequence of their action at the assertion of hostilities.
Limited war often takes a shorter duration since the objective of the war is often of a limited nature. The six-day war between Israel and Egypt in 1967 is a classic example of a limited war. It need be pointed out however that limited wars could last considerably longer for instance Korean War. In a limited war, the element of reciprocity is vital. Each side must act in anticipation of the behaviour or response of the other side.
1.4       Cold War
            A cold war is a state of conflict between nations which does not involve direct military action but is pursued primarily through economic and political action, acts of espionage or conflict through surrogated (this is known as proxy wars). The surrogates are typically state that are satellites of the principal nation or nations allied to them or under their political influence. Proxy wars might also connote giving military aid such as weapons, soldiers, technical advises etc to lesser nations involved with the opposite country. The cold war is a long time aspect of international politics although its only reached its peak in 1945-1991 between the US and USSR.
            Rome and Cathege engaged in a cold war as far back as 146 BC over the dominance and control of the Mediterranean. Between 627BC dn 92BC relations between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire lasted for hundreds of years interspersed with intervals of direct military confrontation and periods of cold war.
            The cold war between the US and the Soviet Union was the most popular because it involved the use of modern equipment and techniques in the struggle for ideological, military and technological supremacy. The post World War II cold war was set of by the ideological and political differences of the victors of the war. The post 1945 cold war involved extensive espionage activities between the US and her allies on one hand and the Soviet Union and her satellite on the other particularly as it related to nuclear weapons secrets.
            The cold war was the continuing state of political conflict, limitary tension, economic competition and proxy wars which rose from the ashes of the Second World War. Although there was never a direct military clash between the forces of both sides, the conflict situation was expressed through various means. These includes military coalitions, strategic conventional forces deployment, extensive aid to states deemed vulnerable, proxy wars, espionage, propaganda, nuclear arms race, economic and technological competitions and the space race. Although the US and USSR fought an one side as allies against the Axis power in the second world war, they were unable to find common ground on the configuration of the post war world. The immediate aftermath of the war was the occupation the western parts of Europe by the two big powers. The soviet union created the eastern bloc comprising the eastern European countries it occupied and annexed some as parts of the great soviet socialist republics. Others were maintained as satellite states with puppet regimes controlled by Moscow. These satellites state were later consolidated under the Warsaw pact (1955-1991).
            The US and her allies established NATO as a defence policy aimed primarily at the defence of the western hemisphere and the containment of the communist spread. While the USSR concerned itself with fostering a global communist revolution, the US and her allies were determined on a roll back policy. During the cold war, the greater portion of the world was polarized. Some aligned with NATO while the other joined the Warsaw pack. Others however decided to maintain a neutral ground in the face of global polarization. These neutral countries formed what was known as the Non-aligned movement.
            The cold war was characterized by period of relative calm and period of high tension at the international arena. In some cases, wars were fought and in other cases wars were averted. These include
a)         The Berlin Blockade                        1948-1949
b)        The Korean War                   1950-1953
c)         The Berlin Crisis                  1961
d)        The Vietnam War                 1959-1975
e)         The Cuban missile crisis     1962
f)         The Arab-Israeli wars                      1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973
g)         The Indian Pakistani war
h)        The Soviet war in Afghanistan 1979-1989.
            The cold war conflict and numerous others not mentioned here have either the active connivance of the superpowers or their long arms turning the screw.
            In the 1970s, both sides took measures to lessen the height of tension characterizing relations at the time. Both sides sought the policy of d├ętente aimed at relieving political tension and deterring reach other from direct military attack. It was clearly understood at this time that any form of direct military confrontation with each other would be a “no victor no vanquished” scenario. Such confrontation would rather guarantee them mutual annihilation if nuclear weapons are part to use.
             In the 1980s, the US under Ronald Reagan commenced a policy of increased pressure on the Soviet Union. The pressure was applied on several fronts-diplomatic, military, economic etc. the soviet union at this time had began to feel the severe economic stagnation brought about by the arms race and other heightened activities associated with the cold war competition. In 1985, Mickhail Gorbacher ascended the Soviet throne and declared an intention to embrace on serious fundamental changes and reforms. His twin programme of perestroika (re-organization) and glasno sl (openness) led to a chain of events culminating to great upheaval in the soviet union, her satellite states and allies around the world.
            In 1989, the Berlin war cause down precipitating perhaps the single greatest event of the 20th century – the collapse of the Soviet Union which occurred in 1991. The cold war had suddenly come to an end, leaving the US as the dominant military power. Russia however took possession of most the nuclear arsenal of the soviet union including her seat at the security council of the United Nations. The cold war no doubt has been a period of remarkable events in the global system.

1.5       Guerrilla Warfare
            This is a Spanish word meaning “little war” guerrilla warfare is an irregular warfare which involves combat by a small group of combatants making use of mobile military tactics in the form of ambushes and raids to confront a larger and less mobile formal army.
            The use of guerrilla warfare has become more pronounced since the 18th century. The concept acknowledged a conflict between armed civilians against a powerful national army either foreign or domestic. It relies on such tactics as ambush, sabotage, mobility. It attacks vulnerable targets in the enemy territory. In the 2nd half of the 20th century, guerrilla warfare has become very successful in achieving the military and political objectives of several groups. These include the people liberation army in the Chinese civil war, Fidel Castro in Cuba, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) FARC in Columbia, Charles Taylor (Liberia), Yousri Museveni (Uganda).

Strategy and Tactics: The strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare tend to focus around the use of a small mobile force competing against a large unwieldy one. The guerrilla focuses an organizing in small units and may be dependant on the support of the local population.
            Principally, the guerrilla army avoids any confrontation with large units of enemy troops but seek to eliminate small group of soldier. This tactics is aimed at minimizing losses because it would be suicidal to engage enemy troops in a frontal assault. This tactics also serve to exhaust and wear down the opposing forces. Personnel and resources are preferred targets of attack of guerrilla units. The main focus of the guerrilla  army is to weaken the strength of the enemy, to degrade their members and lower morale thereby forcing them if possible to withdraw.
            Guerrillas may also disguise themselves as members of the civilian population in order to make it difficult for regular army to identify them. While conventional war focus on territory and casualty counts, guerrilla depends on the support of the population. This infact is a key element in the operational efficiency of the guerrilla. The insurgents rely on the population for recruits, food, shelter, financing and other materials. This support however has often led to serious reprisals against the population by the regular army.
            The guerrilla force can be difficult to defeat except where certain counter-insurgency measures are applied. Some governments or regimes apply ruthless counter measures to check the activities of guerrilla units. This may include murder, genocide, large scale of starvation and a massive spread of terror, torture and executions. The totalitarian regime of Adolf Hitler is a classical example of such ruthless suppression. Other examples include the conflict between the Soviet Union and the Mugahadeen in Afghanistan. The soviets implemented a ruthless policy of wastage and de-population driving over one third of the population into exile. There was wide spread destruction of villages, granaes, crops, herds, and irrigation system. Many modern countries employ the man-hushing doctrine to flush out and eliminate individual guerillas especially the leadership. Israel has used his method in dealing with Hamas leadership in Gaza, America uses it against Al-qaeda leaders and Russia with Checken rebels.

1.6       COUNTER GUERRILLA MEASURES
Robert Thompson in his work on counter-insurgency submitted that defeating the guerrilla direct military approach has often proved difficult and costly. He went ahead to offer some guideline based on the following assumptions.
1.         The people are the key base to be secured and defended.
2.         There must be a clear counter vision that can overshadow watch or neutralize the guerrilla vision.
3.         Practical action must be taken at the lower level to match or neutralize the guerrilla vision.
4.         Economy of force over reliance on the use of force may alienate the population and brand the counter-insurgency group as war mongers.
5.         Big units action may be necessary to break up significant guerrilla concentrations.
6.         Aggressive mobility: counter-insurgency groups must be aggressively mobile and through patrols, ambushes, sweeps, cordons, road blocks etc, keep the insurgent permanently on the run. The insurgents must not be allowed a moment of respite.
7.         Ground level embedding and integration efforts must be geared towards embedding counter-insurgency units with local security forces and civilian elements. The US marine used this method to great advantage in Vietnam.
8.         Cultural sensitivity: This involves familiarity with the local cultures, mores and languages. These helps to moderate the attitude of the local population and makes penetration much easier.
9.         Systematic intelligence efforts: Serious efforts must be made to gather useful intelligence information and organize them in a way and manner that would be useful to the counter-insurgency group.
10.       Methodical clear and hold: this involves a strategy of dividing the conflict area into sectors and assigning priorities to each.
11.       Careful deployment of mass popular forces and special units. This may include villages defense groups, citizen militia and local security units. The essence is to encourage the people to participate in their own defense. This aspect of self participation encourages self involvement.
12.       The limits of foreign assistance must be clearly defined and carefully used. While outside help may be useful, care must be taken not to “take over” a local war in which case the foreign power become “sucked in” for lengthy commitment. This was the case with the US in Vietnam. America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 has also taken a similar shape. The greatest problem here is that the local population may begin to see the foreign power as the enemy rather than the liberator.
13.       Duration: Care must be taken not engage in a protracted conflict as this could wear down the counter-insurgency force and make the campaign extremely costly. Western democracies are often quite vulnerable here especially when support at the home base begins to wane.
Share on Google Plus

Declaimer - MARTINS LIBRARY

The publications and/or documents on this website are provided for general information purposes only. Your use of any of these sample documents is subjected to your own decision NB: Join our Social Media Network on Google Plus | Facebook | Twitter | Linkedin

READ RECENT UPDATES HERE