Review: Warfare in the Third World

5 Star, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle

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Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Original, Well-Documented, Provocative,

March 10, 2002
Robert E. Harkavy
I recently secured from those who study conflict in Europe several recommendations for core readings, and this book was in their top three, along with Monty Marshall’s “Third World War” and the edited work, “Human Security and The New Diplomacy.” All three are excellent.This book is most helpful in that it actually studies conflicts in the Third World, and ends up with documented conclusions or in some cases speculations about:

1) why subjective factors including culture sometimes allow the defeat of forces whose numbers, lethality, and wealth would normally be expected to be invincible;

2) how “absorbtion” through training and leadership are at least as important if not more important than the actual provision of arms;

3) how seapower and airpower play out differently in the Third World than in conventional battlegrounds;

4) what lessons might be drawn from the Third World regarding the design and acquisition of weapons technology, both in the offense and in the defense;

5) the critical importance of economic, social, and cultural factors in determining the outcomes of otherwise high-tech wars;

6) the relative absence of decisive victories, making military power relatively meaningless unless it is accompanied by “peace in force” and the follow-on civil affairs, law enforcement, agricultural and other infrastructure, investments; and

7) “pain thresholds” as a critical factor.

While well foot-noted, the book lacks a bibliography and the index is average to below average–not only lacking substance but being hard to read with 8 point font size. These are shortcomings that should be corrected in the next edition. The book is recommended, and should be standard reading in all conflict courses.

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