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International Socialism, Spring 1965


Tony Young



From International Socialism (1st series), No.20, Spring 1965, p.30.
Thanks to Ted Crawford & the late Will Fancy.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Charles W. Thayer
Michael Joseph, 25s.

The Military in the Political Development of New Nations
Morris Janowitz
Chicago University Press, 33s. 6d.

Charles Thayer is the most articulate of those supporters of American capitalism who, having been forced to realise that nuclear warfare is no answer to many of the dangers facing it, and perturbed by the relative success enjoyed since World War II by poorly-armed irregular troops in pinning down or overpowering larger and better equipped Western armies, have sought to make a serious study of these guerilla movements in the hope of discovering a cure for them or a means of instigating corresponding movements against their adversaries. In his introduction to Thayer’s book Sir Fitzroy MacLean sums up much of its message as ‘a good general rule is to take the basic principles of guerilla warfare and apply them in reverse.’

It is here that the troubles of these ‘counter-insurgency’ enthusiasts start, because despite their commendable study of the works of Mao Tse-tung, and broad-minded acknowledgement of him as the master, they are naturally unable to start from the politics of revolutionary and national liberation movements, but look at insurrectionary movements primarily as techniques, potentially usable by any intelligent politician or soldier. This is not to say that they do not have intelligent observations on political problems, and the impact of social policies in promoting or restraining armed uprisings. This book is a distillation of the political wisdom, such as it is, of the US Army Special Warfare School.

The new nations which Morris Janowitz considers are those in Africa and Asia outside the orbits of Moscow or Peking. He examines the attitudes of the officer groups in the many different types of states embraced in this definition, and not surprisingly finds it difficult to distinguish any universal factor differentiating them from those of the advanced industrial countries other than a lack of prejudice against statification of the economy as a means to development. The overwhelming importance attached to ‘modernisation’ and the desire to catch up with the West in economic strength are rightly stressed. The book is perhaps inevitably short on facts but is free of any concern with how to harness the aspirations of the young armies to the objectives of the US Government. It sees them as likely to play an increasingly dominant part in the next decade in those countries where no mass based authoritarian political movement comes to power, and offers some mildly interesting suggestions on the probably diminishing differences between those states where the military machine was handed over intact by the colonialists, those where it was formed in the national liberation struggle, and those where it is wholly a post-independence product.

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