The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945–1967

TitleThe British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945–1967
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsFrench, David
Number of Pages283
PublisherOxford University Press

Many observers believed that during their wars of decolonization in the two decades after 1945 the British had discovered how western liberal notions of right and wrong could be made compatible with the imperatives of waging war amongst the people, that force could be used effectively but with care, and that a more just and prosperous society could emerge from these struggles. By using only the minimum necessary force, and doing so with the utmost discrimination, the British were able to win by securing the 'hearts and minds' of the people. But this was a serious distortion of actual British practice on the ground. The main contention of this book is that the British hid their use of naked force behind a carefully constructed veneer of legality. In reality they commonly used wholesale coercion, including cordon and search operations, mass detention without trial, forcible population resettlement, and the creation of free-fire zones, to intimidate and lock-down the civilian population. They were nasty, not nice, to the people amongst whom they were operating. [Publisher]

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