Military history

PROLOGUE

BAGHDAD PATROL, APRIL 9, 2007

LIKE PREDATORS READY for the hunt, the paratroopers came out of their “hootches,” their quarters, as twilight began to fall, their tan desert boots crunching softly on the silvery gravel spread over the barren soil of their compound. On went their gear: Kevlar helmets, M-4 assault rifles, 9-millimeter pistols, fire-retardant gloves, night-vision goggles, first-aid kits, ammunition pouches, walkie-talkies, and much else besides. The most unwieldy implement was their body armor, complete with shoulder and crotch coverings and SAPI plates (small arms protective inserts) in front, back, and around the sides. At least sixty pounds of added weight in all—about the same weight that a Roman legionnaire would have carried.

A short mission brief, then onto an unarmored truck that would spare them the half-mile walk to the front gate of Forward Operating Base Justice. After a brief drive, they hopped off. Four feet down from the rear of the truck. Out the gate. Into the warm spring air. Into the toxic smells drifting across the nearby Tigris River.

Monday, April 9, 2007. The Kadhimiya neighborhood of northwestern Baghdad.

This was the anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Although American troops had no trouble toppling the Iraqi army and Republican Guard, which fought exactly the kind of positional warfare that all conventional militaries prefer, they had found themselves stymied by armed groups ranging from Sunni jihadists to Shiite militias. Using simple weapons—AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades, and, above all, the bombs that the American military dubbed IEDs (improvised explosive devices)—a variety of militants had already killed over 3,300 Americans and wounded 25,000 more. Another 1,184 would die over the next four years and eight months. The death toll among Iraqis was far more horrific, eventually reaching more than 80,000 dead.1 Just a few months earlier, the terrible bloodletting in Baghdad had brought the country to the brink of all-out civil war.

American troops found their tactics and technology, still designed to defeat an opponent like the now defunct Red Army, woefully inadequate to deal with these new threats. In this sort of war, there were no flanks to turn, few bastions to storm, no capitals to seize. Only the grim daily challenge of battling an unseen foe that was everywhere and nowhere. A foe that struck with ruthless abandon and then melted into the population. A foe that hoped to goad the Americans into savage reprisals that would turn the population against them. This was the kind of enemy that Americans have battled before, from the jungles of the Philippines in the early 1900s to the rice paddies of Vietnam in the 1960s, but it is not an enemy that most soldiers feel comfortable in confronting.

Not until the end of 2006—almost four years after the beginning of the Iraq War—did the Army and Marine Corps finally release their first new field manual in decades (FM 3-24) dealing specifically with counterinsurgency operations. When General David H. Petraeus, who oversaw the writing of FM 3-24, was appointed the American commander in Iraq in early 2007, he began to implement its prescriptions. More troops were dispatched to Iraq and more of them began to move out of their remote Forward Operating Bases, where miles of concertina wire and concrete cut them off from contact with the society they were supposed to be pacifying. Troops began to take up residence in Joint Security Stations and Combat Outposts, where they could live and work alongside Iraqis. The emphasis began to shift from drive-bys in heavily armored Humvees to foot patrols that allow the soldiers to get out among the people and to gather the intelligence they need to hunt down insurgents.

Captain David Brunais, newly promoted from the rank of first lieutenant but still in command of a platoon, was a small part of this shift in strategy as he led eleven enlisted men and a sergeant from the Eighty-Second Airborne Division onto the darkened streets of Kadhimiya. This was their third patrol of the day in a heavily Shiite area where the few Sunni residents had been chased out months before. It was home to many sympathizers of Moqtada al Sadr’s Jaish al Mahdi (Mahdist Army), an extremist Shiite group, as well as to a revered Shiite shrine heavily protected by local security forces. Much like the Mafia in John Gotti’s neighborhood, the Mahdists preferred to keep their own area quiet while exporting violence elsewhere. So this neighborhood was relatively secure by Iraqi terms. But that did not mean much. Shocking violence could erupt with no notice practically anywhere in this lawless land. Not even the Green Zone at the center of the city was secure. In a few days’ time, a suicide bomber would penetrate the Iraqi parliament in the Green Zone and kill a lawmaker in a heavily publicized attack.

The paratroopers fanned out on either side of the street, keeping a vigilant eye for trouble with night-vision goggles that turn the darkness into a glowing, green-tinted version of daylight, communicating in low tones over microphones strapped to their helmets. The only problem they encountered was a bad traffic accident: a taxi flipped upside down. Brunais stopped to chat with an Iraqi Army major to ask whether he needed any help, but the Iraqis seemed to have the situation well in hand. The paratroopers kept on walking until they got to an outdoor café where half a dozen middle-aged men were smoking hookah pipes. Brunais had gotten to know them in the month that he had been patrolling this neighborhood. He stopped to chat, sitting down in a cheap plastic lawn chair.

The men displayed the invariable Arab hospitality, offering Brunais a water pipe, which he declined, and a Pepsi, which he accepted. Sometimes an English-speaking Iraqi was among the hookah smokers, but not today, so Brunais called his interpreter over—an Iraqi man wearing a ski mask to hide his identity in order to avoid insurgent retaliation. Through his “terp,” Brunais conducted a stilted if friendly conversation that began with jokes about playing dominoes and soccer and proceeded to an explanation from the captain of why the government of Iraq had decided to close the capital to vehicular traffic on this symbolic day. The men complained good-naturedly about this interruption in their daily routines which they said was bad for business. Brunais pointed out that car bombs were even worse for business.

The conversation lasted but a few minutes. Then, with protestations of friendship on both sides, Brunais and his men were on their way, walking slowly back to where they started from. An hour and a half after having left their base, they were back, spent, tired, and sweaty, ready to sack out and do it all over again in the morning.2

THERE WAS NOTHING exceptional about what these soldiers from the Eighty-Second Airborne Division did on this balmy Baghdad night. And that is precisely the point. They were undertaking the sort of modest, tedious, mundane intelligence gathering and security operations that have been a cornerstone of counterinsurgency operations since the days of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. They were part of a long continuum of soldiers who have struggled to master the rigors of unconventional warfare, just as their enemies were part of an even longer continuum of irregular warriors who have always given conventional armies fits.

Time and again, guerrilla warfare seemed to be superseded by the “new new thing”—industrial warfare in the 1910s, aerial warfare in the 1930s, nuclear warfare in the 1950s, network-centric warfare in the 1990s. And yet each time it reasserted itself with a vengeance.

Since World War II, insurgency and terrorism have become the dominant forms of conflict—a trend likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Even as conventional interstate clashes dwindle, the number of guerrilla and terrorist groups continues to grow, the latter even faster than the former.3 One study found that in the 1990s over 90 percent of all wartime deaths occurred in civil wars fought primarily by irregulars; the figure was undoubtedly just as high in the first decade of the twenty-first century.4

It is not hard to see why this mode of warfare has become so prevalent. For one thing, it is cheap and easy: waging guerrilla warfare does not require procuring expensive weapons systems or building an elaborate bureaucracy. And it works. At least sometimes. From Algeria and Vietnam to Afghanistan, Chechnya, Lebanon, Somalia, and Iraq, insurgents have shown a consistent ability to humble great powers. Americans got an unwelcome reminder of how potent irregular tactics could be on September 11, 2001, and in the wars that ensued. Suddenly understanding the nature of guerrilla warfare, and its close cousin, terrorism, was no longer the stuff of musty academic studies from the era of flower power. It had become a matter of life and death.

Yet there was no accessible and up-to-date account to trace the evolution of guerrilla warfare and terrorism over the ages.5 The aim of Invisible Armies is to deliver precisely such a narrative, telling the story of irregular warfare from its origins in the prehistoric world to the contemporary conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond. The aim is to show low-intensity conflict in its most important variations and manifestations over the centuries. The primary focus is on the last two centuries, but the first part of the book examines guerrilla warfare in the ancient and medieval worlds in order to place more recent developments in perspective.

This book is intended to serve as a one-stop destination, as it were, for a general reading public interested in this subject. But I had no intention of producing an encyclopedia. My goal has been to pen an account that is as engrossing as it is instructive. Instead of trying to chronicle every occurrence of guerrilla warfare and terrorism—something that is impossible, in any case—I aim to draw out the main trends and to illustrate them with well-chosen and well-told stories. In the interests of concision, I have had to omit or abbreviate discussion of many wars. Those in search of greater detail on a particular topic should turn to the endnotes for suggested reading.

In the narrative that follows, I place considerable emphasis on the views and personalities of notable commanders. Not only are the quirks of personality inherently interesting, but they are also important in determining the course of events—especially in insurgencies. Guerrilla armies, which lack the organizational structure of regular forces, are often the reflection of one forceful personality such as Robert the Bruce, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Orde Wingate, or Mao Zedong. Likewise, the most successful guerrilla fighters—men such as Hubert Lyautey, Edward Lansdale, and David Petraeus—are often mavericks at odds with their own military establishments.

THE FIRST DIFFICULTY inherent in a work of this sort is that there is no commonly accepted definition of words like “guerrilla” and “terrorist.” As the saying has it, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Walter Laqueur complains, with a great deal of justification, that “the term ‘terrorism’ (like ‘guerrilla’) has been used in so many different senses as to become almost meaningless.”6 It is precisely because such terms are so hard to define that Invisible Armies covers both terrorists and guerrillas; leaving either one out would present a distorted picture.

For purposes of this book, terrorism describes the use of violence by nonstate actors directed primarily against noncombatants (mostly civilians but also including government officials, policemen, and off-duty soldiers) in order to intimidate or coerce them and change their government’s policies or composition. Typically the political or psychological effect desired by terrorists is out of all proportion to the actual destruction they inflict. The nineteenth-century slogan “Propaganda by the Deed” still applies today: terrorism is primarily a psychological weapon. The use of violence by the state against civilians is excluded from our definition, because the common meaning of “terrorism” has changed considerably since the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror in 1793–94 unleashed what Edmund Burke dubbed “those Hell-hounds called Terrorists.”7 Our focus is on bottom-up, not top-down, terrorism, although the boundaries blur because of the prevalence of terrorist groups that receive covert state support.

Guerrilla literally means “small war”; the name derives from the struggles of Spanish irregulars against Napoleon from 1808 to 1814, but the practice is as ancient as mankind. Here it will be used to describe the use of hit-and-run tactics by an armed group directed primarily against a government and its security forces for political or religious reasons. Bandits in search of nothing more than lucre are excluded; they are usually not interested in shaking up the established order, just in profiting from it. Most guerrillas belong to nonstate groups, but some are part of formal military units (nowadays known as Special Operations Forces) that are dispatched to operate behind enemy lines. Other irregulars may cooperate closely with conventional armies even if they are not formally enrolled in their ranks. At the lowest level, guerrilla war has much in common with the small-unit tactics of conventional armies: both rely on ambush and rapid movement. The difference is that guerrilla warfare lacks front lines and large-scale, set-piece battles—the defining characteristics of conventional conflict.

It is sometimes said that terrorists are “urban guerrillas,” but this is an oversimplification; urban areas have seen both guerrilla and terrorist operations, just as rural areas have. Moreover, few armed uprisings have ever confined their violence strictly to noncombatants (terrorism) or combatants (guerrilla warfare). The Vietcong, for instance, killed significant numbers of South Vietnamese civilians as well as South Vietnamese and American soldiers. Similarly, the Irish Republican Army targeted stores and pubs as well as British army patrols and barracks. Usually it’s a matter of emphasis, with, for example, the Boers in the early twentieth century emphasizing guerrilla tactics and, a century later, Al Qaeda emphasizing terrorism.

A few other salient differences are worth noting: guerrillas often try to hold territory, however briefly; terrorists do not. Guerrilla armies often number in the tens of thousands; most terrorist organizations have never had more than a few hundred adherents. Guerrillas usually limit their operations to a well-recognized war zone; terrorists focus their attacks on the home front where no formal state of war exists. Guerrillas seek to physically defeat or at least wear down the enemy; terrorists hope with a few spectacular attacks to trigger a revolution. In the continuum of armed conflict, terrorists are at the bottom, next are guerrillas, then conventional forces, and finally nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

To further muddy the issue, their enemies usually try to brand all “guerrillas” or “insurgents” (fairly laudatory titles) as “terrorists” or other terms of abuse such as “criminals,” “bandits,” “traitors,” or “dead-enders.” Those who carry out such attacks naturally prefer to label themselves as “freedom fighters,” “holy warriors,” “patriots,” “soldiers,” or some other term with positive connotations. Perhaps nothing better illustrates the elasticity of these descriptions than a directive the British government was said to have issued in 1944 after switching its support in Yugoslavia from Mihailović’s Chetniks to Tito’s Partisans: “In future Mihailovitch forces will be described not as patriots but as terrorist gangs: we shall also drop the phrase ‘red bandits’ as applied to partisans, and substitute ‘freedom fighter.’ ”8 The Nazis might not have agreed on much with the British, but they agreed on the inadvisability of ceding the semantic edge to their enemies. Heinrich Himmler issued a directive in 1941 that, “for psychological reasons,” the term “partisan” was to be replaced by “bandit.”9

Whatever you call them, fighters resort to terrorist or guerrilla tactics for one reason only: they are too weak to employ conventional methods. As the political scientist Samuel Huntington noted in 1962, “Guerrilla warfare is a form of warfare by which the strategically weaker side assumes the tactical offensive in selected forms, times, and places.”10 Virtually any armed group would prefer to wage conventional warfare, because it has traditionally had a higher probability of success. Conventional armies can try to carry out a strategy of annihilation, seeking to destroy the enemy’s armed forces as quickly as possible. Irregular forces are compelled to undertake a strategy of attrition, trying to wear down the enemy’s will to fight. This is invariably a costly, protracted, difficult affair, and one that no belligerents in their right minds would voluntarily undertake if there were any credible alternative. Guerrilla and terrorist tactics, therefore, always have been the resort of the weak against the strong. That is why insurgents wage war from the shadows; if they fought in the open, like a regular army, they would be annihilated.

The strong are not, of course, above terrible acts of violence. Far more people have been killed by just three states (Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia, and Mao’s China) than by all terrorists and guerrillas in history put together, but their acts lie outside the scope of this study, except insofar as they were directed against guerrilla foes or utilized guerrilla tactics.

Guerrilla and terrorist tactics fall under such broad categories as low-intensity, irregular, asymmetric, complex, hybrid, or unconventional warfare—what was known in an earlier era as la petite guerre or “small war.” All those categories are hard to define but, like pornography, most analysts know them when they see them. Their dimensions will, I hope, become more apparent as this work progresses.

I WROTE INVISIBLE ARMIES neither to praise guerrillas and terrorists nor to bury them. Some have been commendable, others not. Which is which depends on your own worldview. Weakness does not necessarily produce virtue any more than strength does. My aim is not polemical. It is simply to tell a story that has never been well told and to tell it as engagingly and evenhandedly as possible.

The first part of this book looks at the origins of the oldest form of warfare, beginning in the mists of time with prehistoric tribal warfare, continuing to ancient Mesopotamia, Rome, and China, and concluding with the medieval skirmishes between the Scots and the English.

Then we move on to the guerrilla campaigns that resulted from the liberal revolutions that swept the world from roughly the 1770s to the 1870s. Particular emphasis is placed not only on the American War of Independence but on the Spanish struggle against Napoleon, the Haitian slave revolt, the Greek War of Independence against the Ottomans, and Garibaldi’s campaigns for Italian unification. Many of these campaigns are as revealing as the U.S. Revolution, and yet in recent years they have received far less attention than they deserve—an omission that this book attempts to address.

The third part of the book examines another facet of nineteenth-century guerrilla warfare—the campaigns waged by Europeans to suppress “native” resistance to imperial rule. The focus will be on the American Indian wars, the Russian war in Chechnya and Dagestan against Muslim rebels, the First Afghan War and subsequent campaigns pitting Britons against Pashtuns on the Northwest Frontier of India, the French pacification of Morocco, and, lastly, the Boer War, which revealed the first signs of the frailty of European rule.

Next we move away from guerrilla warfare per se to look at the closely related growth of terrorism. The initial focus is on one of the first terrorist campaigns ever, waged by the Assassins in the medieval Middle East. Then, jumping ahead, we look at two terrorist campaigns in nineteenth-century America that were among the most successful ever but are often neglected in discussions of the subject—namely, John Brown’s attacks on proslavery interests and the Ku Klux Klan’s efforts to undermine Reconstruction. The narrative then switches to Europe, specifically the attacks by Russian Nihilists and socialists on the tsarist state and by the IRA on British rule in Ireland.

The fifth part of the book examines the guerrilla campaigns that arose out of World Wars I and II, focusing on T. E. Lawrence, Orde Wingate, and Josip Broz Tito—all extraordinary leaders of irregulars who left a large mark on the postwar world.

With a focus on the Asian and African theaters, the sixth part chronicles the Chinese revolution as well as the post-1945 decolonization struggles in Indochina, Algeria, and Malaya that were inspired by Mao Zedong’s example.

Our next subject is leftist guerrilla and terrorist groups since the 1950s. The focus is first on the Huks in the Philippines and the Vietcong in Vietnam. This is followed by Fidel Castro’s uprising in Cuba and Che Guevara’s failed efforts to spread the Cuban revolution elsewhere. Then comes an examination of the terrorist groups of the 1970s, such as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and, finally, the long, up-and-down career of Yasser Arafat and of the organization he led, the PLO.

The last part of the narrative deals with the rise of Islamist militancy, which circa 1979 displaced leftist ideology as the prime motivating force for the guerrillas and terrorists who inspired the most dread in the West. We look at the efforts of the mujahideen to drive the Red Army out of Afghanistan, then at the emergence of Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, and conclude with the rise and fall of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Out of this five-thousand-year historical narrative some important and provocative themes emerge. They will be explored more fully in the Implications chapter, which looks at twelve lessons of history. The appendix provides a more statistical approach to learning from the past—it presents the findings of a database of insurgencies since 1775 compiled for this book.

As you read what follows, five major points are worth keeping in mind:

First, low-intensity conflict has been ubiquitous throughout history and of vital importance in shaping the world.

Second, political organizing and propaganda have been rising in importance as factors in low-intensity warfare over the past two centuries. Modern guerrillas tend to be intensely ideological and focused on winning the “battle of narrative,” while their ancient forerunners were largely apolitical and tribal. As a result modern governments have to pay much greater attention to establishing their popular legitimacy and managing their public image than did their premodern predecessors.

Third, in a related development, guerrillas and terrorists have been growing more successful since 1945, in large part because of their ability to play on public opinion, a relatively new factor in warfare. Most insurgencies, however, still fail.

Fourth, outside assistance—whether in the form of arms supplies and safe havens or, even better, the provision of conventional forces to operate in conjunction with guerrillas—has been one of the most important factors in the success of insurgent campaigns. The absence of outside backing is not necessarily fatal, but its existence is a big plus for any guerrilla or terrorist organization.

Fifth, and finally, “population-centric” counterinsurgency, more popularly if inaccurately known as winning “hearts and minds,” has been an essential part of most successful counterguerrilla campaigns. While scorched-earth tactics and “search and destroy” missions have worked on occasion, especially when the insurgents were utterly isolated from outside support, more often they have bred such resentment that they sowed the seeds of their own defeat. The population-centric approach has worked better, but it is not as “touchy-feely” as popularly supposed. While it does try to address the population’s social and political needs, it is primarily focused on establishing security and involves a substantial measure of force, albeit more tightly focused and more intelligently targeted than the blunderbuss approach common to more conventional campaigns.

MOST OF THIS account is based on written sources, both published and archival, in which I have immersed myself for years. But it is also informed by my own experience with guerrilla warfare and terrorism. I first became interested in the subject in the late 1990s, the period when American troops were being sent to places such as Haiti and Bosnia on “peacekeeping” missions to fight wars that dared not speak the name. The result of my initial interest was The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (2002).

As The Savage Wars of Peace was in its final stages, I happened to be going to my day job as an editor at the Wall Street Journal on the morning of September 11, 2001. On the Metro-North commuter train into New York City I heard ominous rumors that an airplane had struck the World Trade Center. I imagined a Cessna accidentally flying into one of the buildings. Curious to learn more, I proceeded downtown on what turned out to be the last subway train still running. By the time I stepped out of the City Hall station, it was clear that this was no minor aviation accident. Walking through white clouds of dust as sirens wailed, I caught sight of one of the Twin Towers. I could see the flames at the top and people jumping to their deaths. Then the building collapsed and a white cloud came roaring down the narrow avenue. Along with the other dazed, incredulous onlookers, I fled in horror. Thus was America launched into what became known as the war on terror.

Before long American troops would be fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. I followed in their wake as a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow who served as a commentator and adviser to American military commanders. I first visited Iraq in August 2003, when the post-invasion reverie was just wearing off and a long deadly insurgency was just beginning. I got a small taste of what was in the offing when a Marine Force Reconnaissance strike team with which I was riding was attacked with an IED south of Baghdad. I vividly remember the marines scrambling to identify the bomber as gunships buzzed overhead. An Iraqi man approached a marine and me while we were standing beside a Light Armored Vehicle and tried to tell us something. But he did not speak English and we did not speak Arabic, and in those days American units had few if any interpreters. It was a mutually incomprehensible conversation—a fitting symbol of how lost the American armed forces were in Mesopotamia.

Another portent of looming problems occurred when the marines finally detained a suspect, a young man in a track suit. He was placed in the armored vehicle next to me, his hands manacled behind his back with plastic handcuffs. Because there were not enough marines present—an indicator, I would come to understand, of inadequate troop numbers in the country as a whole—a corporal handed me his sidearm and asked me to “cover” the suspect before he was transferred to another vehicle. This I did, albeit a bit nervously: I am more used to think tanks than battle tanks.

I would return regularly to Iraq thereafter, meeting with senior American and Iraqi commanders and ordinary grunts while traveling around the country for a week or two at a time. As the situation deteriorated, I drove in heavily “up-armored” vehicles that resembled urban submarines through neighborhoods that had been turned into veritable ghost towns. In one such area of Mosul in 2008, I was caught in what the military calls a “complex ambush” when the Humvee in front of me hit an IED submerged in a puddle and the entire convoy came under automatic weapons fire. Luckily no one in our group was seriously hurt, although a Humvee was wrecked and a poor bystander had his arm sliced off by flying shrapnel.

Mosul was the last remaining stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq. By that time, thanks to the unexpected success of the “surge,” this deadly insurgent group had already been driven out of its other major safe havens—cities such as Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province, which I visited in the spring of 2007.

Ramadi summoned up images from Berlin in 1945. Rubble was everywhere. Entire buildings had collapsed. The streets were flooded because the water mains had been destroyed by so many underground bomb blasts. Yet the guns suddenly had gone quiet. A few months earlier American soldiers and marines had been fighting for their lives simply to hold on to the government center. Now I could wander around without getting shot at thanks to the recent implementation of the ancient principles of counterinsurgency. Everywhere I went I saw scruffy guards, often with bandoleers of ammunition slung across their chests like extras from a bad war movie. These were the Sons of Iraq, the Sunni militia whose defection from the insurgency had sealed Al Qaeda’s doom in Iraq.

By 2008 the war in Iraq was winding down, and I began to turn my attention to Afghanistan, traveling there regularly to assess the situation under a succession of American commanders. I was, for example, part of a small “directed telescope” team of advisors that General Petraeus convened in Kabul in the summer of 2010 when he first took command. I have also traveled to see other irregular conflicts for myself. I have been to Israel (I met with Yasser Arafat in 1998 and was present for both the war against Hezbollah in 2006 and the war against Hamas in 2009, and I returned again in 2011 to spend a week interviewing Israeli officers); to Lebanon (in 2009 I visited Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, where Hezbollah was born); to the Philippines (in 2009 and 2011 I traveled with U.S. Special Operations Forces assisting the Philippine armed forces in the fight against Islamist rebels); and to Colombia (in 2008 I went to see how the fight against FARC was progressing).

I am fully cognizant of how coddled I was as a visitor, and I always left in awe of the dedication and professionalism of the soldiers I met who had to endure hardship and danger unimaginable to most civilians. Nonetheless I believe there is real value in the forays I have made “down range.” By leaving my book-lined office in New York, I have been better able to understand what insurgency and counterinsurgency look like, smell like, feel like—not just in retrospect (the historian’s usual vantage point) but while fighting is still going on and the outcome remains uncertain.

I have benefited immensely from these trips. Yet the more I learned, the more I realized how much I still did not know. Bumper-sticker certitudes are easy to propound from thousands of miles away. The closer I got, the more questions I had. In 2006 I began an extended search for answers by starting to research the history of guerrilla warfare and terrorism. The result is Invisible Armies.

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