Insurgency & Terrorism: Inside Modern Revolutionary Warfare by Bard O'Neill Book Review

Published: 2021-06-22 00:30:55
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This is a comprehensive analysis that compares insurgencies and terrorists movements of post Second World War II and in our times. O’Neill begins this book by looking at post world war II insurgencies that have emerged which are related to terrorism and guerilla wars. He analyzes the nature of insurgency, tactics used in these guerilla wars both military and political “these so called small wars, which can be found on all continents, are often very costly and frequently involve major interest of regional and global powers,”1, and makes us understand both physical and human environment of these organizations and how they have shaped the modern day world. This analysis also makes us understand the role of external support and how it can influence and change the course of wars.

Dr.O’Neill makes us understand that insurgency is not a modern day problem but, it has been there before even in Roman times. He says that these insurgencies have jumped from just under two hundred terrorist incidences to over eight hundred terrorist violence that have cost lives of millions of people all this for struggle of power to control interest of few people. “Most of these insurgents were the handiwork of insurgents groups seeking to achieve a variety of objectives,”2.
Dr.O’Neill makes us make us to draw helpful conclusions that there is great difference between freedom fighting and terrorism. Freedom fighting involves struggle to attain something while terrorism is a means to get an objective done and concluded at any cost, while also a freedom fighter can also use tactics used by terrorist to achieve their goals also.
The driving factor for many insurgencies use to determine their strategies in fighting are both physical and human environment around the base zones and the reactions that emerge from their surrounding environment and government response as a result of their actions. As a result of these responses, they develop a way to counter insurgence of these reactions which greatly aids them in effecting their operations. “Accordingly Moscow and Beijing extended moral, political and material support to both “progressive governments” and Marxist insurgents in the Third world. the underlying assumption behind support to various insurgents was that deplorable economic conditions in may many of the new nations were the products of imperialist insurgent exploitation by western nations, and this made insurgent leaders allies to western communist bloc,3.”
Dr.O’Neill covers the terrorist movement that have occurred in Afghanistan , Iraq Iran china Sudan, Philippines , Burma Nigeria Saudi Arabia and elsewhere some as a result of regional conflicts and minerals and highlights on some of the tactics used by Insurgent groups like Al Qaida and Marxist regimes both in Angola and Philippines and how these insurgent groups have gone achieve their objectives and goals through acquiring popular support causes and effects disunity among its supporters and leads to increased support from some of their allies like U.S to special forces so as to protect their allies national interest , security and those of their friends too and consequently win the war as a result of ideas designed win the war and interest of their friends too. “The direct and indirect involvement of Washington, Moscow and Beijing in Third world insurgencies led to many to conclude that the East-West struggle was being waged through proxies in less developed nations”,5.
Dr.O’Neill brings the idea of political campaigns through which political insurgents promotes to serve their interest and bar the idea of differentiating friends from foes so as to serve and achieve their goals This idea serves to their advantage as it does not differentiate or separate insurgents from the majority population as the assumption is that the insurgents are minority and therefore makes it hard to separate them from the vast population and serve their interest.
We also understand that many insurgencies do survive through external support from ally states or other insurgent groups. This method makes us understand that to what these external supports can bring as a consequence from these insurgents and their motives of their allies or the disparity they bring among countries.
This book also makes us understand why these insurgents fail because of their techniques they use which are non essential and often biased and out of carelessness due to bias and anger, as most insurgents are supported to accomplish a mission or interest of a certain group which are rigid and unfocused ideologies and mistaken counterinsurgency strategies.
O’Neill discusses historical examples of Spanish guerilla movement which aims to battle out Napoleon’s invasion to Spain. He also demonstrates out how this guerilla movement uses popular support of its citizens to gain support of its people and how they are conquered. He also discuses about the rise of south American insurgence particularly the rise of Cuba revolution which makes United States to increase its control over Cuban and other south American insurgencies. “The united states began extensive training and advisory efforts to shore up Latin American regimes increasingly threatened by Marxist insurgents in wake up of Cuban revolution,5”.
As a student, the value of this book lies mostly in providing a student with a revolution of how warfare and insurgencies’ have shaped the modern day world with which we have continued to analyze insurgencies and terrorist activities. O’Neill also provides a student with a picture whether a fighting man or a student with an outline through which we have continued to analyze insurgencies, past , future and present. It also shows us that these insurgencies are likely to be the key level of conflict development in future as he illustrates, “the political community consists of those who interact on regular basis in the process of making and executing of binding decisions. These interactions may consist of active participation in policy process or simply acceptance of decisions”13,” this explains to us the most likely cause of future disputes that may result in rise of insurgence as a result of dictatorial decisions which may be less comprehending.
O’Neill also revisits revolutionary theories of war like Lenin’s theories of Mao guerilla war strategies which shows us the real picture of evolution of China and other major Asian powers of the modern day and how these revolutions shaped today’s major powers. As we see most of O’Neill’s observation have come to pass in modern times like Invasion of Iraq , due to long standing difference in political ideology on terrorism and dictatorship which have led to unending and very expensive wars I our modern times.
As readers, we get the scope that O’Neill presents us with a view of looking at the current challenges facing counter insurgency and anti-terrorism policy. We conclude that one of the most effective ways of dealing with internal terrorism and emerging urban guerrilla’s attacks against internal forces is by highlighting police work, good intelligence, and putting in place sanctions that will hinder movement of these insurgence groups from growing. Intelligence agencies are also the main instruments of getting information about their movements and combating global terrorism. In today’s day world, global terrorism relies mostly on police cooperation and intelligence sharing about terrorism activities. A observed in various cases, the focus of successful counter guerilla forces relies on small-unit operations that ambushes and counter attacks in guerilla infested zones, ‘’128’’.He also suggests that, key issues in analyzing the solutions the solutions within view points of collective expectations and the roles of both civil military players defined and addressed so as every player to play their roles effectively.
In the final pages of the book, O’Neill tries to show out a comprehensive picture through which a government can vies its adversary and decision makers a successful counterinsurgency operations and best tackle and defeat its enemy. He also advices us to take caution and avoid being polemic and shortsighted which can hinder us to tackle issues successfully and bring change to our lives rather than going for dangerous decisions that can hinder development and can cost in the end. He also provides a credible and realistic view which can create effective countermeasure insurgent groups promote that can lead to endanger the lives of many as a result of interest of few people in society.

O’Neill, Bard. Insurgency & terrorism: inside modern revolutionary warfare. (Herden, Virginia: Bradssey’s Inc, 1990).p 1.
Bard, 1990, 2.
Bard, 1990, 3.
Bard, 1990, 5
Bard, 1990, 13
Bard, 1990,128

Bard, ONeill. Insurgency & terrorism: inside modern revolutionary warfare .Herden, Virginia: Bradssey’s Inc, 1990.

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