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Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars: The Politics of Asymmetric Conflict Author(s): Andrew Mack Source: World Politics, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Jan., 1975), pp. 175-200 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/04/2011 11:50
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thelatenineteenth earlytwentieth and century reveals one thing veryclearly:Third-World where it existed, was crushed resistance, withspeedy such In of efficiency. terms conventional military thinking successes werenotunexpected. withtheAllied experiIndeed,together and to and ence in thefirst secondWorld Wars,theyserved reinforce notionthatsuperiority military in to rigidify pervasive the capability in (conventionally defined)will mean victory war. However,the hisin of tory a numberof conflicts the periodfollowing World War II showedthatmilitary and technological superiority may be a highly unreliableguide to the outcomeof wars. In Indochina (1946-54), Indonesia (0947-49), Algeria,Cyprus, Aden, Morocco,and Tunisia, forces in local nationalist gainedtheirobjectives armedconfrontations an withindustrial powerswhichpossessed overwhelming superiority in conventional These wars werenot exclusively a military capability. as colonial phenomenon, was demonstrated the failure of the by in UnitedStatesto defeatits opponents Vietnam. For some idea of the degreeto which the outcomeof thesewars a to presents radicalbreakwiththe past,it is instructive examinethe The Frenchsuccessfully case of Indochina. the subjugated peoplesof formorethan sixtyyearswith a locallybased armyonly Indochina thousandstrong.The situationchanged dramatically fifteen after took up arms in guerrillastruggle. I946, when the Vietnamese By forces the Vietminh of I954 the nationalist had forcedthe Frenchwho by thistimehad deployedan expeditionary forceof nearlytwo men-to concededefeatand withdraw hundred thousand theirforces in ignominy. a Withintwenty years, vastU.S. military machinewith an expeditionary forcefivehundredthousandstronghad also been forcedto withdraw. The purposeof thispaperis to attempt providea "pre-theoretical to
* Research for this articlewas supported the BritishSocial Science Research by Council.An ongoingprojectexamining numberof case histories "asymmetric a of conflicts" currently is beingsupported the Rockefeller by Foundation.

cursory examination thehistory imperialist in of of expansion

(Winter1971). avoid To being crushed. Wehler. should noted be in general type war metwithlittle this of that domestic opposition. 4 See.176 WORLD POLITICS perspective" within whichthe outcome such "asymmetric conof flicts" be explained.with with en and glory. masse. nificant in these that conflicts resistance the British both the to was and protracted bitter and."Industrial Growth and EarlyGermanImperialism" Owen and RobertSutcliffe. ed. few fairly obvious points needtobe madebefore going In analyzing successes theBritish Omdurman the of at the against in and the Italians their Sudanese war against local insurgents in Mao has thatdefeat theinvariable is outAbyssinia. recentstudiesdealing directly with domestic 5Two excellent to opposition these The Anatomyof an Anti-War wars are: StephenKoss. (December i968).2). journal of Conflict are "Time. Greene. and D. R. a on. (London i972).. forexample."3 it Second. in vain. generated domestic opto condition avoiding for position thewar. 392 "The War of All AgainstAll: A Review (November1970). to success served increase only public support. "The Causes of Peace and the Conditions War. Kraemer. how and whytheexternal powerwas forced withdraw. The Guerrilla and How To FightHim (New York i962). honor." Lt. 3 Katzenbach (fn. Space and Will: The Politico2Exceptions foundin E. L. However. it is sig- . Katzenbach ernized writes this in context: it that whatmadethemachinery Euro"Byandlarge. hasreceived remarkably attention. Katzenbach.4 interesting Two exceptionswere the Boer War and the IrishRebellion(i9i6-22)." both in How Wars of End. A.thefirst defeat to is the on to refuse confront enemy hisownterms. study the of theoutcome theconduct wars. against oftheir and of as that etiology.2 it Arguably. T.5 Thus.' outcome "asymmetric little The of conflicts" described this as in paper beenalmost has totally neglected. G. The War of the Flea (New York i965). and JosephS.. to Sincetheformer problem beenthesubject intense has of investigation bothby specialists counter-insurgencystrategists guerrilla in and of the will warfare. Fox. of in Military Strategy Mao Tse-tung. 1957-68. H." Polity. N. The Pro-Boers: Movement and Irish Troubles:BritishPublic (Chicago 1973). Annals of the AmericanAcademyof Politicaland Social Science. greater ofthis the part paper dealwith latter problem. Tse-tung noted native forces withinferior comewhere modfight weapons against forces thelatter's on terms." xii Resolution. Theoriesof Imperialism in Robert eds. wouldseem of so was pean troops successful thatnative saw troops fitto die. thefield conflict may In of research. Col. RobertTaber."Revolutionary GuerrillaWarfareand the iv Decolonization Movement. and themetropolis."War Termination and Conflict Theory. of of the Journal Conflict Resolution. i5. Boyce.Englishmen Opinionand theMakingof IrishPolicyi9i8-22 (London 1972). is easier explain to were whytheinsurgents notdethan is toexplain related more it feated the but interesting questionnamely.Vol."and William T. 1See Berenice Carroll.

theinsurgents simply on themountains may and rely to forests conceal and protect them.g. theatre war exof tends well beyond battlefield encompass polity the to the and social institutionstheexternal of power. nature therelationship The of between these two 6Problems with different of conceptions power in this contextare examinedin Andrew Mack. Anders See Boserup and Andrew Mack.' Second. undercertain circumstances. urban guerrillawarfare anonymity thecity the of provides protection. the First.the Vietnam conflict has demonstrated undercertain how. other and of the essentially nonviolentbutultimately decisive-within polity socialinstitutions more the and oftheUnited States. Whatis alsointeresting is that the did although metropolitan powers notwinmilitarily. .thepost-i968 North Vietnamese operations alongtheHo Chi MinhTrail in the Vietnam War). 7 The leastambiguous demonstrations thisapparently of paradoxical assertion to are be foundin the relatively rare cases of successful nonviolent resistance armedagto gression. may.War Without Weapons: Non-Violence in NationalDefence (London i974). insurgents gainpolitical may from of victory a situation military or stalemate evendefeat.success the for insurgents notfrom military arose a on victory theground-though successes military may have been a contributory cause-butrather from progressive the of attrition their opponents' to political capability wagewar.6 onlydoes superiority military Not in force(conventionally not defined) guarantee it victory. the a of but defensive means this willdepend theconditions thewar. "The Conceptof Power and its Uses in Explaining Asymmetric Conflict. be positively counter-productive. every case. neither werethey defeated militarily. Indeedthe military defeat themetropolis was impossible of itself sincethe insurgents lackedan invasion In capability.In suchasymmetric conflicts.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 177 theinsurgent forces must retain degree invulnerability. which brought has home several important it lessons. to end on of In guerrilla in warfare theclassical sense. has provided mostobvious demonstrationthe of of falsity theassumptions underlie "capability" that the conception of power. The most recent obvious and of of example thistype conflict the is war American in Vietnam. "peoplesea" forms the a sanctuary popular of support the"guerrilla for in fish".. The Vietnam maybe seenas war on beenfought twofronts-one having bloody and indecisive the in forests mountains Indochina. Operating in uninhabited and supplied areas from without (e. of Forstudents strategy importance these the of warsliesin thefact thatthesimplistic onceprevalent but assumption-that conventional military superiority in necessarily prevails war-has beendestroyed. the conditions." Richardson Institute Conflict for and Peace Research(London i974).

such Dien BienPhu. Vietnam which theVietnamese war. Peace.2). .178 WORLD POLITICS conflicts-which in factdifferent are facets the sameconflict-is of to of the critical an understandingtheoutcome thewar. 9 Katzenbach (fn. Theylackednot onlythecapability also any but in interest attempting a move."'0 has that Aboveall. emphasized has the which enormous on "protracted importance guerrilla strategists place most in This is articulated clearly Mao Tse-tung's warfare.Butin practice.and Numbers(London I972)." Bruce M. The psychological thoseof the Tet offensive somefourteen effects-like lateryears were shattering. uary i969).except Americans. The certainty eventual of strategists. the revolutionThird.8 has conflicts-namely. Russett. The Vietminh not of course did defeat Francemilitarily.however. be notedthatit is a prevalent military belief thatif an opponent's to military capability wage war can be his the is destroyed. this into can resistance be turned a warof attrition which will eventually be andinevitably victorious. 2I4." XLVII (JanForeignAffairs. theorists concur with view.However.. direct set costs The military havebeenmuchexaggerated. at therisk this wouldofcourse and it may of oversimplification."' as Henry more Or. victory of mobilization theguerrilla which theresult intensive is political by in is factor such leadership thekeyto whatRosenseesas a critical to the costs. In I954 the Vietminh destroyed French the forces which mustered were atDien BienPhuin a classic piecebattle. the had effect destroying political of the of capability ("will"in thelanguage classical of to further strategy) theFrench Governmentmobilize troops andtocontinue struggle-this the despite fact the that greater the part of the financial costsof the war werebeingborneby the United for States. 3 per centof the to theFrench only in forces Indochina totalFrench wereinvolved. Vietnam beena reminder in war theultimate the be Moststrategic aim must to affect will of theenemy. however. to in ed. War. Kissinger." works. of aries nowlasted has overa quarter a century. of American was to experience in no senseunique. i8. 'OHenry A. Kissinger succinctly in wins observed i969: "The guerrilla ifhe doesnotlose. willingness absorb Katzenbach that notedof Mao's strategic theory it is basedon thepremise that of "ifthetotality thepopulation be madeto resist can surrender. is notsurprising this It to means that areno longer that 8 StevenRosen."War Power and the Willingness Suffer. "will"to continue struggle irrelevant the since end available. "The VietnamNegotiations. of but it is also foundin the military writings GeneralGiap and TruongChinhand in the worksof the leadingAfrican guerrilla Cabraland Mondlane.

strategic weapons deployment forcefully have pointed Neither in that should strategy very see differitsurprising guerrilla strategists the or entterms. troops Vietnam thepeakof theground in in at war to i968 amounted lessthan one quarter onepercentoftheAmerof icanpopulation.. destruction the external or The of in power's forces the fieldplacesno material in obstacle its path whichwill prevent from it simply mobilizing moreforces home at and dispatching to thebattlefront. military superiority merely is not its very nature. butthemaximum since of number U.. critics is out. material. certain of conventional types conflict. constraints mobilizathem The on tion political. itsmilitary capability-no is how One matter powerful-is irrelevant. whether rely guerrilla they on warfare. Lacking technological capability thebasicresources the of todestroy external enemy's military capability.theexternal power's the is then to continue struggle destroyed. must necesthey aim his If "will" sity todestroy political capability. aimofthis totally paper to in show howandwhy. is truewhether insurgents revolutionaries This the are urorright-wing nationalists. paraphrase Clausewitz. final the outcome of .S. political The constraints operating against mobifull of lization themetropolitan ariseas a consequence theconforces of in flicts themetropolis-both within political andin thewider the elite the society-which war. Bycontrast. warin Vietnam byany The has measure thegreatest had impact international American on and domestic of politics anyconflict WorldWar II. U. Therefore military the struggle the on must evaluated in terms thenarrow be not ground of calculus miliof but of tary tactics.. did As I havenoted conflicts the in above.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 179 in industrial societies: should a prevalent be belief modern strategic to as tendsto mold itself available of doctrine technology. noneoftheconflicts wasmore are not In noted thana fraction thetotal of potential military resources themetroof politan power fact in mobilized. mayactually counter-producbut be tive. will inevitably to tend To generate.The implications thosemilitary for whichrelyalmost systems be on need wholly industrial power and advanced technology hardly spelled out. in terms its political impact the metropolis: in "Battles campaigns amenable analysis rather and are to as self-conof contests military tained power. ban terrorism.S. evennonviolence. necessarily It ponents' follows thatinsurgents only to achieve their endsiftheir opponents' political capability wagewar is destroyed. politics become continuamay the tionof war by other means. noneoftheasymmetric their localinsurgents thecapability invade have to metropolitan opcan homeland.

EveryWar MustEnd (London I97I). few chief political to responded a suggestion of Mitterand. this metropolitan policyin French throughout conflict-as policy calls besetby whatMao Tse-tung other conflicts-was asymmetric the directed against military repression "contradictions." offensive in facta majorstrategic of in point thewar."Yet seven Algerian all the De a-half years later. last majority theFrench a attemptedcoupagainst had itself (which Army taskoftheFrench the ofthe theGaullist down terrorists OASwas government) tohunt interests military the thediehard remnants thecolonclassin whose of in had intervened thefirst place. that flatly in the by that Parisshould with negotiate therebels stating and is "the departements onlynegotiation war. for first not term for re200. politics. warsdepends a much on .The impact Tet on the theU. Significantly. years.marking turning President's to led politics directly theincumbent domestic American time. to opposition thewarin metropolitan ing Between of example ourthesis. . colon(white broke the fighting out.S. . instrumentalcatalyzFrance. Francois Minister theInterior. Gaullehad notonlygranted rebels their when had somethey notevenconsidered (including demands initial from the support overwhelming brokeout). barbarous in were use the including widespread oftorture.. ." of contests military contained for defeat a marked dramatic that couldcontend thei968 Tetoffensive of calculus military of forces therevolutionary in terms themacabre for defeat was the "bodycounts. the decision to stand another ofoffice. the that military despite fact the fused is victory theinsurgentsunambiguousover Evenwhere military in the of Massu's destruction theFLN infrastructure as in General no is of Battle Algiers-this still sureguideto theoutcome notorious the regained milithe that FLN never Despite fact the oftheconflict.000 men) were (a resources further for requests more military had situation worsened. power. but received fighting the of in population doingso. The Algerian is an instructive war forces of shift thebalance political in wasa radical I954 and i962 there was class settler) ofAlgeria The in metropolitan France. French that used methods byMassuto achieve victory. I-2."' The on as elusive-such the war'simpact domestic outcome "selfas battles notlie in their does of significanceparticular States the although United Thus.180 WORLD POLITICS highly of many them of wider range factors. And. leftist A after days the victim. the Indeed. within four struggle their abandoned the tary initiative." initial The to achieve what had for achieved themilitants they beenunable rebels 1 Fred CharlesIkle.

which thewarhad in themetropolis. As therebellion became more more numerous broadly based. the the of metropolitan powerposesnotsimply threat invasion. the but reality occupation." Full mobilization thetotal of of resources theexternal military power is simply politically not possible. Offers ofconcessions were-as is frequently casein suchconflicts-both the too smalland too late. whatdo we in in this mean "asymmetry" context? must note fact by We first that the the isasymmetric. forces more methods usedto attempt quellit.themajority of French menandwomen wereno more to sympathetictheFLN than of werethemajority Americans theNLF in Vietnam.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 181 the for mobilizationthemasses of themselves-namely. the Thusitcanbe seenthat shift thebalance the in of in forces metropolitan France political was of critical in importance the of leaders suchconflicts in determining outcome thewar. fact so obvious itsimplications of This is that have beenignored. as already noted.) Notonly fullmobilization is it impossible politically. theother hand. in thecosts thewartothe but of French themselves.Political do notgrant demands because undergo sudden a insurgent they change ofheart. because haveno choice. fortheinsurgents the waris "total. Theyconcede they in and Whyare asymmetriesstructure important. political against the French. progressively The greater notthought to be intheleast The in conventional necessary. lackan invasion On they capability.was notso muchtheinhumanity It of thewar perse thatgenerated in opposition France. means. asymmetry military capais and theconfidence military that bility so great will prevail might . insurgents between belligerents relationship The can to of poseno direct threat thesurvival theexternal power because." the whilefor external it power is necessarily "limited. costs political of gaveriseto thephenomenon "warweariness" which without writers havedescribed many and analyzing.The andever extreme were to to French tried buyoff also nationalist to aspirations offering grant by someof thepolitical demands which had initially madeby the been insurgents-only to find these beenradically that had escalated. It that crudely speaking. to the"lossof political to will" of the government whichthe military invariably ascribed defeat. major to The causeof opposition notin theenormous costs thewar to the of lay Algerians this (though wasa factor).The moreforces French the deployed (ultifour mately hundred thousand thegreater theimpact was men). (One might of conceive caseswhere this notthecase-as in a popularly is backed war"for "holy examplebutsuchpossibilities of no relevance thepresent are to discussion. and economic.

relationship as simple some the isnot as writers Coser follows in to Williams agreeing there appear think. absence constraints themobilization force andthe ofconventional use military maximize strategic the utility of of conventional warfare. although the thesis sociologists Simmel of external-enemy/internal-cohesion like and Coser been has widely accepted. potential internal arising either campis small in for conflict thehomeland the relative thepotential domestic to of in involved an asymmetric conflict. an and The factthatone belligerent possesses invasion capability in levelofindustrial of theother notis a function thedifferences does of relaand technological capability thetwo sides.Coser part notes thesecond of World Warthat "attempts centralizationthe at by 12The finalchapter Boserupand Mack (fn. notedthatwar onlyapproximates its "pureform" to Clausewitz is at stake. 7) discusses of Clausewitzian strategic and its application "asymmetric to theory conflicts.'2 a when "grand powerful and will purpose" Onlythen the of resources a fullmobilization national become possibility. symmetric In metropolitan power the of ceteris on conflicts. just to the as not some ofit. Thus. with may faced occupation on external are by a hostile power. only and and nawillthediverse sometimes various then conflicting that goals in of be tional groups pursue time peace displaced a single by overriding of In aim-"theoverthrow theenemy." of and conflict Somestrategic implications symmetric asymmetric out. is where survival both both havea war"situation to "grandand powerful purpose" defend. paribus. "total Examples symmetric wars"arethe first second and World Warsandcivil warsin which struggle the can be seenin zero-sum terms-as ofsurvival." a symmetric." .The asymmetric of in is a tionship thus function theasymmetry"resource power. one However." to have the forces which political means is and Whatthis essentiallythat disparate sometimes conflicting national interest-in groups may finda common unity-a national In is a case opposing common enemy. relations nowbespelled Theinsurgents. that hasto be a minimal consensus thegroup(or nation) a "going that is be concern. able to capitalize those powerful scientists given label"nationalism.other things being for in divisions the equal.182 WORLD POLITICS is of that of is so pervasive expectation victory one of thehallmarks theinitial endeavor. that thecohesion generatedonly of in resource a consequence theasymmetry its indirectly power: social in bonds to be found thecommon are andpsychological felt hostility toward external the enemy." that and there must recognitionan outside of threat which isthought menace group a whole. "total strategic of the sides at stake.

to since Second. chap. thecontrary. A majority thepopulation theoccupied of of countries perceived surrender a moreviable as alternative resistthan ance-at leastuntilit appeared thatthetideof thewar had turned against Nazis. i. 13Lewis A. much for for worse somethan others. every case wherethe insurgents thewar was a profoundly won. exception theconfrontation was where there a deepcleavage the from dividing Chinese insurgents theMalays. Coser. as alterFirst. bydefinition. noteworthy after collapse theNazito It is that the of Soviet Pactin thesecond World War. see resistance an obvious as alternative surrender. The Functions Social Conflict of (New York '4Boserupand Mack (fn. divisive issue. (b) Occupation military and repression themetropolitan by power hasin fact produced nationalist predicted theCoser-Simthe unity by melthesis.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 183 French Government unavailing couldnotmendthebasic and were cleavages remedy lackof socialsolidarity."'3 mayadd to nor the We in this twomore national conditions which will affect unity theface ofexternal threat.)Indeed.Resistance a the movements members share revowhose lutionary ideology which as one of itsbasictenets belief has that the "protracted willultimately victorious. as Eventhough isnot it about conditions the which possible beprecise to generate necessarily national solidarity theface an external in of threat. (One interesting is in Malaysia. resistance be perceived a viable must native surrender."'4 Dissent be heavily will proscribed and sanctioned socially well as by theleadership. .7). there (c) Moreimportantly.resistance theNazis in occuto piedEurope very was often by Communists whomsurrender led for meant extermination. we maynote following points the to contwo with respect asymmetric flicts: if (a) An external threat a necessary notsufficient is condition for theemergence a popular of front. 87-IIO. national for as will such unity doesoccur notbe unshakable. is possible argue it to in that somecasestherepression notso muchintensifypre-existing consensus a did basic as create one. war" be will. Thosescholars areexpounding "paradox" external who the that conflict bothincrease decrease will and domestic conflict below) are (see of a Contrast situation the in United the guilty creatingfalse dichotomy. occupationis likely haveadverse but to consequences all groups. I956). itwillbe enormously But reinforced whatmay by be calledthe"bandwagon effect. was no comparable external unifying in On force thecaseofthemetropolitan in power.

"Nationalism" may be significant in civilwarsthatare basedon an ethnic conflict not on class conflict. "The Nazi attackappreciably creasedthe internal cohesionof the British social system." the various"wars of nationalliberation" see preIn we of ciselythe same processin the formation "popularfronts. "interest mental. groups. In hishighly in prophetic paperpublished i969." so forth. the social and economicfissures thatexistedin British In the society. We soughtphysicalattrition. though these maywell occur. facingthe Nazis in thesecondWorldWar. contrast thetotal-war the situation. or macyoverothergoals pursuedby factions or bureaucracies other interests whichcompete state for groups pursuing In of resources. I3).they mustnotlose. but 16The obviouspointhere is that "nationalism" normally meaningless is a concept 87-IIO. Front"is foundin someguisein nearly thelabel "NationalLiberation in all theseconflicts." Indeed. HenryKissinger obof served America's war in Vietnam:"We fought military a war.184 WORLD POLITICS as in withthatof Britain States.Rather. thewar if is terminated benefits believedto be accruing are quicklyand certain fromvictory in the case of the mini-wars colonialexpansion) (as of thepotential divisive for domestic conflict thewar issuewill notbe on realized.Controversies "guns or butter" not onlyconceivable a Vietnam-type are in but conflict. society. the process. Clearly. In we 15 Coser (fn. In theformer we see theprogrescase of siveescalation domestic to opposition thewar creating deep divisions In inwithinU. temporarily narrowing variouspolitical. a situation totalwar. exceptin relation an external to environment. our opponents foughta politicalone.Butthisis simply another way of stating thatiftheinsurgents areto win. 95. for and political-withprotagonists otherinterests-governof economic.16 It is mycontention theprocess political of of that attrition themetropolitanpower'scapability continueto wage war is not the conseto of quenceoferrors generalship. and bureaucratic. the prosecution the war does of takeautomatic aboveall other over primacy goals.In a total-war situation theywould be inconceivable: guns would getautomatic In to priority. the natureof the conof of of flictual relationship betweenthe belligerents.S. it is a function thestructure the conflict. the latter. inevitable. . thewar escalated Vietnam. our aimed forour psychological opponents exhaustion. Where the war is perceivedas "limited"-because opponent "weak" and can pose no is the threat-theprosecution thewar does not take automatic direct of priwithinthe government. though rarely civilwars. quotation fromp."'5 Britain electoral was process suspended forthe duration the conflict orderto forma coalition"national of in government. of protagonists a limited war have to compete resources-human.

costs insurgents nam. theaimoftheinsurgentsnotthe of destructionthemilitary of as capability their opponents an endin for To such wouldbe lunatic a smallThirditself.Mao as to general strategic approach follows: cannot is bodies says. 2I4. 18 Katzenbach 2). financially in thelongrun.. thebelief countries legislative that with simply takea warofattrition. Portuguese Africa. for example) maysupport warbecause the havemorematerial at they interests stake. they be the Strategically. initself incur on This and will economic political in metropolis. attempt a strategy Worldpowerfacing majorindustrial a Directcosts become power. very of a multi-party the mitmenta long sopolitically to as war suicidal tobequite impossible. to to the war others (munitions manufacturers. . i8. makes definite imand resources whichmight pacton theeconomic political otherwise have been Tax allocated say. (fn. didin Algeria Vietnam. outcry to against warwillitself the weaken ability thetroops fight. psychomakes structure comfact logically. with visible a war no an payoff against opponent who posesno direct threat will comeunderincreasing criticism as battle casualties and economic rise costs escalate. aim intoescalating insurgents' must toprovoke external be the power itsforces theground.. either or. the of The warthat is the for and Mao'stheory contemplates cheapest himtofight themost expensive theenemy. army not win.they must ableto impose to be a steady not accumulation"costs" their of on opponent. public projects. thecurrent and conflict Ulster. These are psychological political: and their objective is to amplify "contradictions enemy's the in the camp. "Fundamental all else. But if thewar escalates as it and it a dramatically.""7 Mao In a similar E." In themetropolis.. from to the the burden When financial increases month month. L. Algeria. insurgents retain minimum dethe greeofinvulnerability. they translated are into indirect costs. must only They be undefeated. direct in The the on of impose theexternal power be thenormal will costs war-troops and is killed materiel But destroyed. welfare to. Obviously there will still groups themetropolis be in whoseideological commitments will leadthem continue support government's policy. Indeed. ofstrategic importance and when. must seento be undefeated.""18 for a to must In order avoiddefeat. a process escalation infact did mark costs the of Such the of in Viethistory theconflicts Indochina. (fn. Katzenbach i962 described Tse-tung's in vein.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 185 of maxims guerrilla of warfare: lostsight one of the cardinal the if wins The conventional loses itdoes guerrilla ifhedoesnotlose. increases be may 17 Kissinger x0). only when. In order win.

U. to It is instructive notethatduring WorldWar II thedeliberate Allied to the attempt terrorize working-class populationsof Dresden and no This deotherGermancitiesgenerated moral outragein Britain.S. eventhemurders over-zealous officers intent on sendingtheirmen out on dangerous This in factled to a patrols. by widespread drugaddiction. but thelastyearsin Vietnam weremarked troopmutinies. high and of levelsof desertion."9 . When thisis not the case. The is and "linkage on politics" politics" also relevant. Policy Process. "MakingDemocracy relevant thisdiscussion. the aerial bombardment civilianlocalitiesin and defoliants. in particular to in Rosenau. it is not at all clear to those groupswhose interests adversely are affected why such sacrifices are is Butthatis onlypartof thestory.and anti-personnelweapons have been all met with widespread and controversy protest. a limitedwar. Lowi. of On the otherhand. literature "bureaucratic necessary. when the obvious an status in asymmetry conventional military powerbestows underdog of on theinsurgent themorality thewar is moreeasily side. When thesurand vival of the nationis not directly threatened.a draft system may have to be introduced. 19 Some interesting is work in the "issue area" literature and recenttheoretical see TheodoreJ. of of Thereis also thequestion themorality thewar.the use of herbicides napalm.ed.American of at when soldiersfought well in thesecondWorldWar. questioned." James "IssueArea and Foreign ForeignPolicy(New York i967).186 WORLD POLITICS to necessary coverthe costsof thewar. as important thefactthatthe Just necessity the sacrifices for involved fighting risking in and deathwill appearlessobviousto the conscripts even theprofessional and soldiers the survival thenationis not directly stake. Armyofficers it was necesthat strong feeling amongsomesenior saryto get out of Vietnambeforemoralecollapsedcompletely. the basis for consensus In disappears. LXVII (December I973). One shouldnot deducefromthisthatthe British publicwas of than morecallousto theeffects humansuffering was theAmerican."AmericanPolitical Science Review. Such costsare seenas partof the"necessary price"whenthe security the of nationis directly threatened.. is It to of impossible explainsuch a dramatic deterioration moralewithin thearmyand the massive opposition the draft to without reference to thetypeof war beingfought. and WilliamZimmerman. inflation and will be an almostcertain by-product. DomesticSourcesof Safe for the World: NationalPolitics. Vietnam. raids spitethefactthatthe thousand-bomber were designedto create in that so firestorms devastating effect morepeopledied in one night in of bombingoverDresdenthanperished the Hiroshimaholocaust.

" and Giap have another Finally. precisely. are Yet accusations those constraints. so forth. theexternal weakness.The government-or. faction the to to government whichis committed thewar-will continue argue that interest. counts thelongruniswhat opponents What political capital they and ofthewarbelieve be at stake howmuch to canmuster. divisions more the atthe ofthe end tunnel" in costs become themselves of thepolitical one within metropolis the that of more of thewar. those perspective. whoopperceived an integrated act oftheir posethewarin themetropolis objectively-regardless suba strategic resource theinsurgents. contradictionthe athome withdrawing oftheir by to one is sharpened.On the hand. this From perspective objectively jected.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 187 to is of Moraloutrage in large perceived parta function theinterests in survival theissue. are bythe politan power in themselves that awareness thepolitical constraints their on there rather. propensity is the Where be at stake theconflict. government that front political the to are reopposed thewar are "aidingtheenemy" contemptuously correct. attempt resolve contradiction will battlefronts Any The understand that the perfectly strategists magnify other. thatthe principal contradiction whichthe repeatedly emphasized on confront theground derives from fact the imperialist must army to become so that forces that spread thinly territory dispersed control If are to to they vulnerable attack. is notthatthematerial underestimated revolutionaries. some the on forces. forces concentratedovercome are For areasareleft other this power unguarded. a in increase metrothis to overcome contradiction requires massive the costs but increases domestic ofthe immediately politan forces. guerrilla takes and must thewarthey placeon twofronts theconflict be fight Fromthis as whole. is an acute . is and falsethey true relationshipreality-whether arewholly orwholly to the isquite in immaterial. the are claims bearany Whether notthese or nation at issue. this iftheimperialists topacify opposition wish the other war. vitalsecurity that prosecuting waris in thenational the of and that international credibility prestige the interests atstake. Theyarenevertheless is is we canalsoseewhytheslogan tiger" byno "imperialisma paper resources themetroof It meansinaccurate. enemy markedly As the drags andthecosts on without "light the war steadily escalate generated becoming visible. Mao wordabout"contradiction. for jective political philosophies-as of since is they it whohaveto conGovernments wellaware this. usedto defeat the the of to question protest morality themeans and is attenuated.

butmisses overall the picture. Few attempts beenmadetoanalyze outcome asymmetric have the of conflicts evenfewer systematically. Kissinger. already in overall noted. its and in Somewriters interested theetiology conflict argued of have that thenature thestate of mediates linkbetween the polity internal and The is external conflict. thewholeremains But than greater thesumof itsparts. have been touched Rosen on. which observe clearly theVietnam Algerian we and a of of conflicts. i (Oslo i965). Johan Galtung."Conon flict Studies.theprocess attrition thepolitical Is of ternational of capability so in towagewar. 2). power." so forth-are abstracted fromtheircontext the sake of analytical for clarity.2" samequestion of relevance withrespect to of therelatively neglected problem understanding outcome inthe of conflicts."22argumentIonsandother The of writersroughly is as In follows. of Behavior in of States. io). Withrespect that clearly toVietnam. in is dissent repressed "closed" "totalitarian" or societies. Amongthose few. of understanding some aspects However. intervention and capability. i8 (London I971). asymmetries The dein scribed thispaper-in the interests perceived be at stake. No. Therefore 20 Rosen (fn. and it is theconflict a whole as which must studied order underbe in to stand evolution outcome. Katzenbach (fn. Kraemer(fn. Jonathan "Modelsforthe Analysis ForeignConflict Wilkenfeld. Galtungdistinguishes "social" defense" in and "territorial as (asymmetrygoals).g. emphasis original.188 WORLD POLITICS maximum are resources notexist." No. 22EdmundIons. Kraemer "colonial" versus "nondistinguishes An of wars. deployment as realas if those did and thatthese constraints become morerather thanlesspowerful as thewarescalates. in it of a freesociety. considers asymmetry the in power "willingness and examines asymmetry "tangible" to suffer the in costs".function thenature thepolity themetropolitan of powers involved? Somewriters believe it is. Ionsnotes: Edmund the "Whilst freedom demonstrate to in -even fordefeatism foreign one policy-isclearly ofthestrengths isconcerned. 8). to in in in "resource mobilization. see also "Mot et NyttForsvarsbegrep. "Dissentin America:The Constraints ForeignPolicy. Pax. mentions asymmetry versus strategy (physical psychoand logicalattrition). dissent permitted. is also one of itsweaknesses faras powerpolitics so . 21 E. 2). haveseenthe the asymmetries whichcharacterize conflict beingcritical an as to the outcome." Russett (fn. Kissinger (fn.. 8). contrast "open" to where is societies.Katzenbach and "intangible between resources".20 examination theconflict thelight colonial" in guerrilla ofanyofthese certain asymmetries into provides asinsights particular of pects thewar.

instance. Czechoslovakia (i968).* be by Clearly. elite-but necessarily The argument not be confined theruling to so. Ions in thepaperquoted. thenumber and of killedminimized. brutalities The maygo unreported.23 general The of ture themetropolitan society point In number civilian of was hassomevalidity.A brief discussion theimplications thecoup.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 189 will societies notbe troubled thedomestic constraints totalitarian by U. on for whichhavebedeviled in of conflict which In some thebest-known of examples asymmetric the insurgents gainedtheirobjectives-Indochina. addition is into thegovernment it proscribing opposition.Despitethese press was specifically limited warsby their obvious points. the"secret created U.S. metropolitan regime maybe described "closed. and Aden." whatever. Modern Warfare (New York * This article was beforethe completed Spinolacoup in Portugalin the springof 1974. Algeria. French for these The military strategist Trinquier.a greater refugees missions thanin Vietnam. policy-makers Vietnam. Indonesia-the metropolitan powerwhichconin was conflicts whichthe cededdefeat a "democracy.maybe withholding inflicted civilians on formation. or in anycase. Laos. thecosts thewar to theeconomy of concealed.and thoseof therecent of of developin ments the Ulstercrisis. has been added to the conclusion. maincontention-that my very constraints the war continues-is if domestic nature will generate In of not disproved. there majorcontroversies within ruling the elite Portuguese concerning desirability the -the costsand benefits-of continuing in Africa:"[T]here seem war 23 P. i964). . Cyprus.Palestine. warin Indochina. bombing by yet far and the war"in Laos attracted lessattention controversy because the excluded from battle zones. these cases. entire be must altered. the may exemplified examining caseofPortugal. terms the argument forward here." as "centrist. greater with concern logicthan political for for reality." "totalitarian." Asymmetric external crushed opposition has yetto be the power successfully (or beaten)include Hungary (i956). closed centrist polities. and PorIn the war tugal's ongoing in Africa. popularopposition thewarin Angola.S. to and Mozambique. comecloseto recommendingcensorship precisely reasons."politics" put involves under political conflict theallocation reover any system of In or these conflicts byand large will sources. GuineaBissau itself as couldnotmanifest in Portugal did opposition theVietnam to But werenevertheless warin theUnitedStates. Trinquier.S. argues in order prevent rotof"defeatism" "lackofpothat to the or in the will" from the struclitical betraying troops thefield.popular In domestic opposition nottolerated. and other troops supof have porters theU.

sition has in the past manifested by to Portuguese "votedwiththefeet" emigrating theEuropeanCommunity. not highly undependable.Those war forthesereasons. and forthatveryreasontheywerebasically withtheirparentcountries theywere in conflict may seem. and therefore promoted without fromcolonialism fitted that however paradoxical anti-imperialist. onlybecauseit has alreadycome undersusNATO powers. the armsneededto fight war in Africa."24 younger pearas a very as allied with see future clearly Portugal's "modernizing technocrats" thatthepriceof and theEuropeanCommunity realizeequallyclearly of a closerassociation withtheEEC is thecessation thewar in Africa. 24Johan don I973). oldestand weakestof her shouldhaveclungto hercolonies long after more imperial powers. international thereare also powerful domestic constraints. to This support needless say. The Rhodesiansor white colons in Algeria-is highlyunreliable. on tion'that wouldbasePortuguese must Community apfor and the'Europeans' whomtheEuropean generation of The attractive havenof escape. .25 to resist to classwill bitterly any attempt hand overcontrol the settler A in The EuropeanCommunity: Superpower the Making (LonGaltung." logical-and essentially thattheremay be a powerful contingent denying However. objectively at all times. as thousandsof itselfindirectly.190 WORLD POLITICS of maincurrents whenit comesto themajordirection to be three in versions tradition various the orientation Portugal: colonialist for in the tradiAfrica.but tainedattackfromsome of the north-European because Portugalhas a far greaterdependenceon more obviously oppoFinally. "They beneclass" in "colonial"situations: 25As Emmanuelnotesof the "settler or reserve contradictionit.' old 'Lucitanian whichstillbelieve 'Portuguese future thePortugal/Brazil axis."WhiteSettler up arms againstit.without the withinthe Portuguese of genuineideologues politywho support thisdoes not providethe whole answer. to colonial surrendered granting rivals independence their by powerful of is The usual explanation thatit is a matter an additionto constraints.From theverybeginning of goingso faras to take so so subjectively at times crisis. and the Myth Colonialism Emmanuel. ." of Investment . i66. are settlers connection" the Portuguese mostloyal to the "Portuguese in to in the territories themselves-loyal the senseof totalopposition the of white blackrule. the to It remains be explained whyPortugal. 73 (May/June Imperialism.Butthisloyalty--like loyalty Ulster Protestants.No. for on dependent the NATO countries the Portugalbeing critically is. case Portugalis also an interesting in the sense that. populardomestic NATO thanNATO has on Portugal. . New Left Review. I972). with "manifest irrational-obsession destiny." Argirihi 38-39.

The "settlers" at they appear have to the"mother country" tothemoment which up beendeserted. essentially symmetric: in class stake theoutcome. settler qua threat localEuropean to to theindigenous population posesa direct in in If and spheres. from different asymmetric reason Thereis another. sianlines.partbecause be even demonstrated manipulated. However.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 191 provides powerful a brakeon any indigenous population. For thesettler class. pressures the hegemonyboth political economic the from colonies the appears likely metropolis suchthat are withdrawal of the coupofthespring -as seems highly possible following Spinola a of wellbemoves thesettlers attempttype go-itto i974-theremay by Unilateral Declaration Independence of strategy alongRhodealone. will be almost in the absent straints completely against use of force task nationalist of movements to case. ifitcould unequivocally of costs thewarexceed a widemargin present the the that economic by from colonies-most her which derives benefits particularly Portugal .is extremely costs benefits and which derives from latetheeconomic Portugal her in controls artificially overseas are exchange territories. thebreak If the of doessucceed. thewhiteRhodesians They but thecurrent Ulster crisis is doubt sucha strategy that would there little be attempted-and likely succeed itbecame if clear the to wouldmost Protestant were to seems that majority theBritish going withdraw-as towards exhibit "ultra-loyalism" increasingly possible. structure theconflict powerdoes not intervene changes completely. despite superficial similarities insurgents how."-the conflicts. failed." language-"Palestinian conflicts fundamentally liberation are "settler-regime" struggle. thereby it towards move independence. question these the regimes notwhether fight but in words.In other and "national tactics in descriptive guerrillas. the The warin which settler hasa survival to formidable than will settlers in many enemy ways prove be a more morepowerful because conthe was thevastly metropolitan power. South regimes Israel. the metropolitan If makes rebellion simply againstthe settlers' (Algeria) but instead (Britain thentheconflict beRhodesia) nonmilitary protests against a civil for a zero-sum comes struggle ascendancy. for is to The onerous.The colonsin Algeria tried thisstrategy whenit became for demands obvious De Gaullewas goingto givein to Moslem that succeeded. down their Thusthe trying bring Africa extremely is in and thesettler Rhodesia. In independence. granting independence the of class. powerful whythePortuperhaps equally so It resisted difficultcalcuto guese independencebitterly.

archiesare apparently to to most susceptible internal opposition external "centrist" states lesssusceptible are wars. physical may power- 26For a detailed argument thispointsee Eduardo de Sousa Ferreira. whiletotalitarian to suchopposition. SincePortugal relatively is underdeveloped are economically.-type breakwiththe metropolis alongRhodesian lines. the latter If therewill be a forces prevail. there also extensive as yetbarelyexploited and are mineral and reserves.I.192 WORLD POLITICS the thata major PortuAngola-it would not invalidate hypothesis Oil gueseinterest maintaining colonialpossessions economic. in the is in large quantities in has alreadybeen discovered the overseas territories. follows: (i) caThe political attrition themetropolitan of power'swar-making of to correlated withthedegree "openpability appears be positively ness" of the politicalsystem and negatively correlated with the Democraticpolydegree of "closeness"of the politicalsystem. they relinquished theeconomic also costsof administration while retaining whatever benefits theyderived from their investments from and specialtrade relationships. is for of In discussing Portugalby way of exemplification my argument. Portugal is in a very different position. Portugaltherefore a considerable has economicinterest in to trying maintain control theseareas.26 in When France and Britain relinquished their African colonies. . to war. strong pushfromthesettler classfora U. it will have a survival interest the conflict will thus in actas a powerful "brake"to forces themetropolis countervailing whichfavora pull-out.despitethe factthatthereis no directthreat (3) In a limited of there well be other survival themetropolis. The keyeconomic enin terprises the overseas territories increasingly are dominated nonby in Portuguese capital (in contrast the situation Frenchand British to African colonies before independence).D. Portugal If were to relinquish political control Africa. so-called The neocolonialsolution nota possibility thePortuguese. I have raisedthree whichmightbe formulated possible as hypotheses.If thissucceeds. of Portuguese Colonialism fromSouth Africato Europe (Freiburgi972). benefits derives the fromher overseas territories she basedon political rather thaneconomic control. conflict the ceases tobe asymmetric defined as here. wouldlosenotonlythepresent in she economic benefits also themoreimportant but future benefits. This argument subject severe is to qualification (see below). in (2) Where a metropolitan class exists the insurgents' homesettler in and land.

. theU. Mostofthediscussion farhas dealtwiththedomestic thus constraints in as whichwill be generated the metropolis a consequence asymof in of metries thestructure theconflict. It is obvious that ofthenecessary one conditions noted earlier for process political the of In attritionmanifest wasabsent. certain inof of a fixation security on terests understandable. .."28 Second. non-Russian-face" to statesof EasternEurope and mightspreadfirst the othersatellite to in The Sovietintervention Hunultimately the SovietUnion itself. 28Z.S.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 193 infulinterests be protected.S. country's raw is the territory a forms tunnel leading from western Europedirectly theSoviet to Union. B. A. riskslie in ignoring sometimes labeled"accidents history. can quiteeasilypointto the We 27 For an analysis of in of thebreakdown the resistance the Czech case see Boserup and Mack (fn. nevertheless of was highly salient. Neither it evident is thatthiswould be desirable. case in point. greater resistance withdrawal be in the the the to metropolis.e. Zemannotes." whichmay but thecategory of in nevertheless of critical be importance determining outcomeof the a particular conflict. Russian interests maintaining in Czechoslovakia under Soviet control weretwo-fold.twiceinvaded century for this from theWestat a cost millions lives. exFor ample. PragueSpring(London i969). chap.R. ofa direct threat invasion. greater salience these to The the of will terests. The probis lem with using models to explainconflicts thatthereis a natural to to of tendency attempt forcethe data to fitthe requirements the other factors whichmightfallwithin The theory. realrisk The from of of theSoviet point viewwas thatthesubversive ideology national of determination. 7). garyin i956 is a similar showthat is virtually it to a Theseexamples impossible produce model conflict of asymmetric whichwould be sufficiently flexible account to thatmightbe includedunder fortheoutcomeof the casesof conflict thatrubric. VI. both to itself cases localresistance effectively rapidly the was and crushed. Zeman. "socialismwith a human-i. The lastpoint notedabovebrings to thetwoother us examples the Russianinterventions Hungary(i956) and Czechoslovakia in (i968). security of the whilenotone interest. As Czechoslovakia a key had in position theSoviet system: is a workshop "It a where lotofRussian and East-European material processed. thestrategic ofrelinquishing was But costs control over Czechoslovakia notsimply direct were the costs creating of a physical in thechainofsatellite gap buffer states.27 FromtheSoviet point view.

Butlittle nothing be saidwithrespect external can to downon For example.S. so on. with critical force achieve to usedminimal industrial whereas success. historical epoch. arises thecauseofthese exist between of relationships which from nature theasymmetric the can On thebelligerents. theinternational the and factors flict takesplace.Thoughthese mayinfluence form in divisions anyparticular taken these internal conflict. thesameThird-World and fronted of I the In explaining successes the"weaker" out party. inthecaseofthe was the in against Dutchthesituation nationalist struggle Indonesia to different. whichtookplacein thelatenineteenth early and colonial conquest a In difference. theother nothing be saidin theabstract hand. to constraints which aboutanyexternal maybe brought bearon the on of Thesearedependent theconditions a particular external power. threat cutoff very failedto makea settlement Marshall Plan aid to theDutchif they A completely different ofpotential set the nationalists. SUMMARY was how The initial powproblem oneofexplaining themilitarily in with couldbe defeated armedconfrontation the militarily erful in of imThiswasnotjustidlespeculation. by intensity It is from divisions independent all ofthem. sameindustrial conpowers countries massive with forces lost. a number critically weak.194 WORLD POLITICS they mechanisms generate constraints-thoughform will that the such to to perceived be at will according theinterests takein practice vary power. capability the external of warsmaybe seenas a replay themini-wars these of In a sense.pointed that .theearlier the but era. twentieth centuries. with Indonesian Portugal vis-a'-vis to external couldbe brought bearagainst pressures wars and thePortuguese in Africa. In an asymmetric for of conflict. interests epoch. War industrial powers portant in on soil to failed gaintheir have fought foreign against objectives wars casesthesuperiorityconvenin forces. nature thepolity theexternal in the context which conto and ceived be at stake. all ofthese In localnationalist of tionalmilitary powerwas overwhelming. rapid powers the War in thepost-World II conflicts. of to of stake according thenature thepolity theexternal and or constraints. constraints bearing werefewexternal there in in British yet policy theMau Maurebellion Kenya. potential thegeneration internal the of in exists regardless thehistorical power divisions themetropolitan the the of of perpower. critical The factor herewas theU. in conflicts thepost-World II epoch.

" somewriters of as have still of suggested. a consequence the ofthe as was oftheasymmetrywealth economic technological in and and developthe ment. in and thebitter hostilities wars such to generate come dominate may political of debate thedetrimentthepursuit other to of objectives. howdidthey win?I noted oneofthe asymmetries charthat which key acterized relationships belligerents that. insurgents lacked physical the to the capability attack metropolitan power. In for victory theinsurgents couldonlycomeabout a consequence thedestruction theexof as of ternal to power's political evidence capability wagewar. As a next I of step. lesswas it seenas a process conversion thetop at the was of whereby political leadership gradually persuaded theimor ofits The morality undesirability policies. However. terrorism. was theprocess attrition notseenas arising of from primarily a steady across-the-board increment "warweariness. great importance asymmetric However. were of in conflicts. balance political power willinevitably in favor theanti-war of shift factions.Timeis a resource politics. turn. didnotexamine aspect theprobI this I that insurgents notloseas a the did lemin anydetail. thus It followed logically themetropolitan that power couldnotbe defeated militarily. tookthefact "given" whenI inquired themoreinteresting into problem-namely. whereas mechthe . examined dynamics theprocess political the of attrition. only theinitial the not for restraints mobilization on of of but divisions the military forces. arguing theasymmetries characterized conflict that which the provided basis. controversies themselves one of became ofthecosts thewar. fact The on that warwasby the wardragged andcosts also provided basisfor a sustained "limited" the definition moral meansemployed-from of torture napalmcritique themilitary to of whilereducing willingness troops risktheir the to livesin combat andofthedomestic to sacrifices. the dealtessentially domestic Although maindiscussion with conI alsorecognized international that constraints often straints. even nonviolent of action. alsofortheemergence internal as accumulated. population makeeconomic However.The historical of theoutcome thepost-World II conflicts of War confirms logic the oftheargument.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 195 an obvious minimal for was requirement victory thattheinsurgents the not this to should lose. Provided the can a insurgents maintain steady of imposition "costs" their on metrothe of in forces theexternal politan opponent.Theyachieved byrefusing confront indusownterms byresorting to trial on and powers their instead "unconor ventional" forms warfare-guerrilla urban of war.

for will the Another examplewould be: The weakerand moredependent external the poweris on external in the support orderto prosecute war." Third.196 WORLD POLITICS anismsgivingrise to internal constraints could be identified. I also arguedthatinBut ternaldivisions were primarily function the conflict a of relationship and not of differences the politicalstructure the metropolis.the moreimportant external constraints be in determining outcome. was it in to impossible say anything the abstract about external constraints. in of forinstance: The greater interest particular the a faction in the has metropolitan prosecution thewarand thewiderthebasisofitsdomestic of support. in Having outlined fairly the generalterms conditions underwhich theprocess political of attrition be to might expected manifest in itself practice. notedthat I thenatureof thepolityof the external powermighteither or inhibit facilitate generation domestic the of conflict. of the NOTE ON METHODOLOGY of Examplesof the types hypotheses whichthisanalysis mightsuggestweregivenearlier thepaper.It wouldbe easyto think others. in of Finally. they would slice the conflict intoparts(eithertemporally spatially) or up in whichare thenexamined relative isolation. tativestudies undertaken Rummeland Tanterwith the objectof by the betweenexternal and internal testing relationship conflicts arrive . That is a problem significance whichhas been largely in studies conflict ignoredin mostof the quantitative research where conflicts to get lumpedtogether-symmetric asymmetric tend and and acrossperiodsof up to a hundred yearsor more-in orderto obtaina sufficiently sampleforstatistical large Thus the quantimanipulation. have arguedthata full I can an of understanding onlycomefrom analysis theconflict a whole. thenbriefly I examined countervailing the forces.thereis the technical problem operationalizing such vague as or concepts "interest" "faction. hypotheses wouldremain untestable thetraditional by statistical tests. notedthatthesalience theinterest I of whichtheexternal power -or ratherfactions withinit-had in pursuingthe war would also affect process politicalattrition. even if operationalization the werepossible. as of Second. First. will the to The objections thesealternative than for the approaches-other purposeof illustrating pointsin the argument-areseveral. thegreater be thesupport continuing war.

are and thus however."32 Counter-insurgency can thus theorists a provide partial explanation why of insurgents lose. they may but cannot. also Stohl (fn.It is notpossible consider to asymmetric conflicts de(as fined here)on their own. "Introduction" Wilkenfeld. since of is type conflictnotidentified. grasp howitis that they maywin. theresults produced farare modest.since sizeofthesample fartoosmall."The Strength BetweenDomesticand External Relationships Conflict and Cooperation: Syria. is no "paradox" theapparently contradictory ascause sertions on theonehand.x (March i966)."LinkagesbetweenWar and DomesticPoliticalViolence in the UnitedStates. of conflicts examined the being once. and Raymond Tanter. external conflicts internal conflict or and." GeneralSystems Yearbook. Conflict Behaviorand LinkagePolitics(New York I973). the that are.i96i67" in Wilkenfeld. 4i-64. on for conproblems The literature counter-insurgency. to ed. and other or in successes failures battle. Quasi-Experimental Approaches(EvanstonI973). Roos. datamatrix is filled examining conflict a few)over by one (or many time intervals. The methodological epistemological of and withthistype problems analysis enormous. ii). ibid.I958-60. notes:"When its on Ikle to it comes actual fighting.30 Whether not is of of But the this thecaseis a function thenature theconflict..29 However. centrates almost on of exclusively thedevelopment thewar on the and ground ignores impact themetropolis.i89o-i923" in J. square miles territory of gained. scores count forinstance.. askwhether these 'mid-game' successes improve will the ending. professional military wouldconsider unusual. example. 31 See RobertBurrowesand Bertram and Directionof Spector. almost definiby tion. Wheresuchan attitude prevails. 30). 32Ikle(fn.. theother. relawellexist be hidden precisely methodological but the tionships may by intended reveal to methods to them. like Contrary writers Stohland there in Wilkenfeld.3' instead many Here. Rummel. notsomewhat men if it to improper. viii (i963). is the Theonly outofthis dilemma toattempt is a "time series" way analysis. I-50. this but is seenas a contingent phenomenon almost wholly unrelated theconto 29 R. the number enemy of units destroyed. Michael Stohl."Dimensions of Conflict Behavior Withinand BetweenNations." Journal Conflict of Resolution. Caporasoand L. "Dimensions Conflict of BehaviorWithinand BetweenNations. arise.Awareness insurgent that successes a consequence "lackofpolitical are of will"or "defeatism" on thepart themetropolitan of is of governments course there. they on that create internal solidarity. extremely If we moveawayfrom quantitative literature examine to other the attempts explaining outcome asymmetric at the of different conflicts.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 197 the at theconclusion no suchrelationship that exists. and Jonathan Wilkenfeld. relationships lost theaggregathe are in tionofdata. eds. J. that. .

7). outline the An of basicrequirements suchan "asymmetric of strategy" (derived from thestrategic writings Clausewitz. i). deals events on Although much the of research literature conflict with renewal of leading to theoutbreak war. Fox (fn. Specific problems raised these by different methodological approaches to asymmetric conflicts thedifferent of interest and foci whichhave beenemployed be dealtwithin depth a forthcoming will in study. Ikle (fn."33 However.198 WORLD POLITICS in works thecounter-insurgency ductofthewar. and . Many them a virtue manifestly lacking other in works. i). evolution the The waranditswider dimensions largely sociopolitical are ignored.34 In particular.Richardson Institute (London I974). these concentrate to thefinal phases thewar. asymmetric the An strategy wouldbe onewhich sought amplify process attrition to this of indirectly. of Glucksman. Mack. F. videno conceptual basisfordistinguishing between in whatmight thiscontext called"structural be from necessity" historically unique factors.35 it be Finally. study examine writings theleading that of revwill the olutionary strategists." illustrating dangers relying historical precedents. a most it is reliable guideto thefuture. Mao Tse-tung) and is provided thefinal in chapter War Without of Weapons." Nos. namely oftreating that the conflict a wholerather as thanexamining "technical" diparticular can or case mensions temporal slices. Military history replete is with"Maginot the on of lines.Moresophisticated field consider do in political factors theinsurgents' homeland-namely. and R. should obvious myaimin this that paper notbeen has to provide "model"whichmaythenbe "tested" applying a by it 33Carroll (fn. of of the payoffs social economic and reform a means reducing as popua larsupport theinsurgents. i-vi. A number excellent of of historical studies thevarious case asymof metric conflicts beenmentioned this in have have paper.I have dealtessentially withtheprocess attrition a function theasymmetries of as of which characterize conflict. the present In paper. Randle. Sincenarrative between the history unableto discriminate is ununiversal theparticular and whenanalyzing conflicts. ii). "Working 34Andrew Paperson Asymmetric particular leading negotiations of those of oroffering possibilities third-party for mediation. individual studies proHowever. 35Boserup Mack (fn.there beena recent up of has on interest "war-termination in studies.The Originsof Peace (New York I973). only for But Trinquier provides sustained in analysis thepolitical socialchanges of and necessary themetropolis of ifsuchwarsareto succeed-and this in casethedemands logicare followed no regard political with for reality.

and Bissau. Having explicitly abandoned that thebelief thewaris winnable. theCouncil Ireland)to no avail.THE POLITICS OF ASYMMETRIC CONFLICT 199 and mechanically ahistoricallya widerange conflicts.R. Like the"paradigm" thephysical of sciences which Thomas Kuhnhas described.A.remains only the not but undefeated capable escaof wherenecessary. evaporated but withthe considerable exodusof whites Portugal to and SouthAfrica. new Portuguese the Government abandoned has the earlierinsistence that the "overseasterritories must be an integral part of the nation. by and government the Catholic and Protestant center groupswhich dominate Assembly. conceptual this framework functions essentially direct researcher's to the attention toward particular aspects the real world-to distinctions relationships of and which "common sense" often doesnottakeintoaccount.witha largersettler In popufar mineral lation. Guinea in The is The spring i974 sawtheemergence. theBritish Since Government exhausted theobvious has all "initiatives" (jugglingthe local Ulsterleadership."The threat a possible Portuguese of settler fora unilateral bid declaration of independence briefly was raisedin Mozambique. ofthemost One significant of aspects current I. to of it Rather. most of The dramatic has development beentheSpinola which has coupin Portugal clearly for far-reaching implications thewars national of in liberation Angola. seemscertain latingits offensive it thatthe camfor will paign withdrawal gather strength. Mozambique. General Spinola advocates greatly increased but must autonomy. direct rule. CONCLUSION Recentdevelopments two ongoingasymmetric in conflicts have to tended bear themain out thrust myargument.* second theconflict Ulster.the Northern Ireland and of Assembly. Angola." bombing The functions to essentially preventthe "moderate" favored the Westminster political solution.R." is already It Portuguese obvious thatsucha solution acis * Since this was conclusion written. has beento constructconceptual a framework a whichwill provide focus empirical for studies.activity itsrolein maintaining solidifyis and ingProtestant " does notseekto provide automatic answers.withseveral for campaigns troop withdrawalattracting from growing support very different political constituencies. England. . andsince I. situation unclear. significant of in of domestic to opposition thewar. greater and resources. deep divisions between competing liberation the remains movements. frameThe workdefines necessary the questions whichmustbe asked.A. Spinola the from to The governin faces ment Portugal a similar problem. "theoverseas territories be an integral ofthe part nation. coming fruition. regime's the current is strategyto seeka "political" solution.

theother conasymmetric that They to effectiveness. thistypeof conflict. metropolitan the despite forces oppose war-have. the losesifit doesnotwin. and to proven be remarkably theirshort-term in successful thelongrun. Withdrawal now clearly serious that In powers. that andthis includes thesocial all failures frustrations. Thus. which its theasymmetries form distinctive their on to hand.The causes will inevitably generate widespread elite. costs thewar the whatever at opposition home.they in the lie of the ofdissent beyond control thepolitical lie pursued in and the of itself-in type warbeing structuretheconflict of Anti-war movecharacter. whether withdraw rather but tionis no longer To conclude. havetended underestimate political ments. .200 WORLD POLITICS nor moveto settlers to theliberation ceptable neither theEuropean for a is political option both ments. hardly it needspointing that-if correct-the out for powers which analysis industrial of implications the foregoing in World farare wars become embroiled longdrawn-out in theThird to whichbecomecommitted suchwarsfor reaching. has flict where external of of dissent. havefailed realize in every to it the powerhas beenforced withdraw. explain onlythetenacity endurance thenationalist in of butalsothegeneration internal of divisions thehomeland their anti-war movementsIn enemy."In bothcountries keyquestional army to whenand how. overtime. admitting the colonialwars are unmetropolitan defeat: "theconvenGeneral has Spinola in factadmitted winnable.anyanalysis the beenas a consequence internal and account of conflicts ofnecessity into must take outcome asymmetric of not and forces. Governments of reason should realizethat.