Gangsters, Thugs, and Bandits: The Enemies of the Colonial State

David French

in The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945-1967

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587964
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731365 | DOI:
Gangsters, Thugs, and Bandits: The Enemies of the Colonial State

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Britain’s wars of decolonisation were conducted against the backdrop of the Cold War, and officials and ministers were beset by the supposed communist threat to their empire. In reality most of their opponents were motivated by radical nationalism, not communism. Convinced of the moral righteousness of their imperial mission, they condemned those who opposed them as ‘bandits’, thugs, and gangsters’, and readily cracked down on them. On the ground members of the security forces took a more nuanced view. Some hated their enemies and demanded harsh measures against them, some respected them for fighting for a cause, most simply got on with the job they had been given.

Keywords: Cold War; origins of insurgencies; roots of coercion; soldiers; policemen

Chapter.  17549 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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