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:

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British counter-insurgency operations in reality differed considerably from the ‘ideal-type’ as defined by Thompson and refined by subsequent analysts. The over-use of the phrase ‘hearts and minds’ conjures up a false image of what the British did. It implies that they had discovered a comparatively painless way of conducting counter-insurgency operations. The historical record does not suggest that the British had found it between 1945 and 1967, and modern doctrine writers are likely to be led astray if they believe that they had done so. The main contention of this book is that the British commonly employed a wide variety of coercive techniques to intimidate the civilian population into throwing their support behind the government rather than the insurgents. They were habitually nasty, not nice, to the people amongst whom they were operating.

Keywords: coercion; hearts and minds; Sir Robert Thompson; Iraq; Afghanistan; stretched Malayan doctrine; decolonisation

Chapter.  4634 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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