C.E. Callwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice (1896)

C.E. Callwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice (1896) - Credit to A. Bradley Potter, Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Classics of Strategy and Diplomacy

The roots of modern counterinsurgency strategy are deep. As far back as Roman times historians like Tacitus recorded accounts of regular forces battling local guerrillas, and from these origins a long tradition of studying these peculiar types of conflicts was born. One of the most historically significant efforts to encapsulate lessons from irregular wars, or “small wars,” comes from the pen of British officer C. E. Callwell. When the British Empire of the 19th century stretched across the globe, Callwell gained first-hand experience fighting insurgencies on two continents. He went on to chronicle lessons from those experiences, as each offered multiple opportunities to consider and reconsider how best to wage counterinsurgencies. Today the term “small war” has taken on a broader definition, but it was Caldwell’s exploration of this type of warfare that yielded what remains one of the most insightful treatments of insurgency and counterinsurgency. While his work is a far cry from modern population-centric visions of counterinsurgency, it represents an important starting point in the development of modern counterinsurgency strategy and tactics.

Few of the British strategist’s generation had the combination of experience and scholarly temperament to undertake such an effort. Callwell was a British army officer who served in a series of colonial wars, including the Second Anglo-Afghan War and the First and Second Boer Wars, wrote widely on military and strategic issues (Moreman 2004). While his final postings as a major general during World War I focused on intelligence and logistical issues, he is best known for his studies of counterinsurgency. In summarizing Callwell’s life, one biographer writes that the British officer “was an accomplished linguist, a skilled intelligence officer, and a prolific writer of quality on a wide range of military affairs and on military history throughout his career” (Moreman 2004). These characteristics served him well while examining small wars, though perhaps not in leading troops. Callwell held only one significant command position, during the Second Boer War, in which he was not especially successful. Ultimately, “he was perhaps more accomplished as a theorist than as a soldier,” and while his writings are dated by a particularly patrician view of the non-Western world and an outmoded discussion of logistical issues, his general insights into the nature and strategy of small wars are timeless (Moreman 2004)…

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Re: Callwell and his "Small Wars," most important for our purposes I believe -- and most important specifically re: my "expansionist" arguments -- is the following from his Chapter II: Causes of Small Wars ... "

BEGIN QUOTES

Small wars are a heritage of extended empire, a certain epilogue to encroachments into lands beyond the confines of existing civilization and this has been so from the early ages to the present time.

The great nation which seeks expansion in remote quarters of the globe must accept the consequences.

Small wars dog the footsteps of the pioneers of civilization in the regions afar off.

END QUOTES

Thus, during the Old Cold War of yesterday, when the Soviets/the communists "encroached into lands beyond the confines of (their) existing civilization" -- to achieve the "expansion" of their (from the native's perspective) alien and profane way of life, way of governance, etc. -- they had to "accept the consequences" of their such actions (for example, small wars and terrorism). These, incurred due to resistance-to-transformation coming from various state and non-state actors; all of whom wanted nothing do with such radical political, economic and social changes as the Soviets/the communists sought to achieve worldwide.

(Such things as Soviet/communist version of "universal values" having, back then, been immediately disproved, note the reality of something like a "united front" -- of individuals and groups, and states and societies -- to stand against the Soviets/the communists and their such expansionist designs.)

Likewise in the New/Reverse Cold War today, with now the U.S./the West "encroaching into lands beyond the confines of (our) existing civilization" -- in this case, to achieve the "expansion" of our (from the native's perspective) alien and profane way of life, way of governance, etc. -- we, much like the Soviet/the communists before us, must "accept the consequences" of our such actions (for example, small wars and terrorism). These, likewise due to resistance-to-transformation coming from various state and non-state actors; all of whom want nothing to do with such radical political, economic and social changes as the U.S./the West seeks to achieve worldwide.

(Such things as the Western version of "universal values" having recently been disproved, note the clear potential for a "united front" -- of individuals and groups, and states and societies today -- to stand against the U.S./the West and its such expansionist designs.)

Thus, from Callwell in the 19th Century, and good-to-go even today, to understand "small wars" as:

a. The heritage of extended empire and

b. The encroachment of such empires into lands beyond (their) existing civilizations.

c. Herein to find such great nations -- seeking "expansion" in remote corners of the globe -- as having to, now as then,

d. Accept the consequences (ex: small wars; terrorism) of their such actions.

e. In this manner, to understand why small wars (etc.) might "dog the footsteps" of the "pioneers of civilization(s);" both yesterday and today?