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Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Chapter 6: What is Guerrilla Warfare?
Anthony James Joes 6.1 GUERRILLAS VERSUS TERRORISTS Because the terms “guerrilla” and “terrorist” are often, and incorrectly, used interchangeably, it will be useful to distinguish those terms. It is true enough that elements of most, if not all, present and past guerrilla movements have engaged in what many observers would label terrorist acts at one time or another. But the essential difference between the two types of activity is crucial. No definition of terrorism would come close to satisfying everyone, or even most people, but in this context we will employ the usage of Bard O’Neill (2005, p.33): terrorism means “the threat or use of physical coercion against noncombatants, especially civilians.” Guerrillas, on the other hand, are those who, whatever else they may do, deliberately fight against ostensibly more powerful armed forces by making unexpected attacks against vulnerable military targets and who are sustained, in the ideal, by good intelligence, secure bases, popular support and high morale (Joes 2004, p.10). Guerrillas can do anything that terrorists can, but the reverse is definitely not true. The crucial differentiation lies in the approach to fighting: the main and sometimes exclusive target of guerrillas (from the Spanish for “small war”) is the security forces of the opponent. Thus, the fundamental distinction between the two types is the role that deliberately sought armed combat plays in their method of operation. 6.2 SOME WELLSPRINGS OF GUERRILLA CONFLICTS An older generation of Americans associates the term “guerrilla” with the term “Communist,” for reasons easy to understand....
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