War isn’t what it used to be, at least according to the conventional wisdom that modern warfare is now irregular and asymmetric, making traditional forces largely obsolete. But military historian Max Boot argues that guerrilla warfare and insurgency are hardly recent developments. Those tactics were actually common for most of human history. In his new book “Invisible Armies,” Boot traces the history of irregular warfare.

Max Boot: Tracing the History of Guerrilla Warfare 28 February,2013forum

Max Boot, senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Times to the Present"

  • Chris OConnell

    Yes, apparently Michael Krasny believes that Hamas and Hezbollah only exist because of Iran since Iran provides financial support. I am sure he likewise believes Israel exists only because of the US and its stupendous financial support. He always makes that point whenever he can.

  • thucy

    GREAT guest. (Tyson, and now Boot? I’m blown away. “He rises!”)

    Two questions:
    1. Can Boot break down how on earth “Guerrigliero” fighter in exile Garibaldi managed to move an entire ship across land in a surprise attack in South America – I think it was for the battle of Laguna or Imbituba? was there a precedent for guerillas mixing maritime excellence and land fighting skills to beat THAT?

    2. Do the Gracchae battles in support of Italians and poor Romans count as guerilla warfare?

  • joan

    Can he comment on the other”P”- Profit in warfare and the future of armies?

    • thucy

      Good question, Joan, but isn’t the implicit definition of guerilla fighting that it’s not about money, but about ordinary folk trying to free themselves from tyranny?

  • Chris OConnell

    I really don’t agree with the claim that he is a leading historian. He is too much of a booster of unrestrained US (and Israeli) imperialism to get such an unmodified honorofic. In other words, his analysis is not remotely objective but infused with tribal loyalties and thus double standards.

    • Chris OConnell

      OK. I might have to rethink Max Boot. He is sounding pretty reasonable here. He just gave a very solid answer to the question of what is a “terrorist”, making the point that the term basically has no meaning and is just used as propaganda. I wish that would be explicitly applied to the current US use of the word, but we can make that connection.

      For instance, there is huge doubt that Anwar al-Awlaki was nothing more than an Islamic preacher who decried the evil of the US. It seems even unlikely he was involved in any operational roles. But he was very effective in galvanizing Muslims around the world to attack US citizens, interests etc. NOT because he was involved in such attacks, but because of his analysis of US/Muslim relations. So we called him a terrorist and killed him. No charges, no indictment, just a Death Order issued by Obama.

  • thucy

    did Boot just slyly reference Walter Sobchak in describing the suicidality of Vietnamese revolutionary fighters running up into French gunfire as more fierce than Muslim fighters?

    “The man in the black pajamas, Dude. Worthy (expl.) adversary… Whereas what we have here? A bunch of fig-eaters wearing towels on their heads, trying to find reverse in a Soviet tank. This is not a worthy adversary.”
    – Walter Sobchak, “The Big Lebowski”

  • thucy

    “But let me get you on record, here…”

    Thanks for pursuing Boot’s position on the Iraq invasion, Mike, certainly informs as to the biases Chriscadee alluded to.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    12 minutes before the end of the this show, Max just claimed that the decision to go to war in Iraq was made “in good faith”. There is no evidence of that! In fact, with Cheney “sexing up” the intel, and Congress too besotted with 911 reactionary-ism to thoroughly question the executive branch — at what point do you say failure to vet information from the only WMD witness and hustler known as “curveball”—do we say that there was NO good faith and there was an active effort to dupe us? If the Pentagon Papers taught us anything, it’s that our government lies at wartime. It is our duty as citizens of our nation and human beings to question claims from those in power, especially in matters of life and massive death. Our elected officials were WEAK trying to look strong, when what we needed was the good faith of questioning authority.

    • thucy

      an excellent point, however, may we request that you not combine the words “Cheney” and “sexing” in the same sentence before the noontime lunch hour? Or ever? Some of us have a hard enough time keeping down food these days. Thanks.

    • Chris OConnell

      Thank you for this point. I reject the good faith claim as well for the war in Iraq. That is complete BS. There have been too many books. Bush and Cheney were obsessed with Iraq well before 9/11 and were determined to find a way to attack it. Remember Paul O’Neill? Bush’s first Treasury Secretary showed it was a priority in the first week of his Presidency. In an unprecedented political interference, Cheney visited CIA headquarters at least 10 times in 2002 (and or early 2003) to pressure them for intelligence to justify a war. Etc. etc.

      Of course, the mere presence of WMD does not justify a war or we would have a lot of wars going on, including with ourselves. But that’s another issue.

    • erictremont

      The bulk of the historical evidence shows that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Powell really did believe that Iraq had WMD. You need to make a distinction between the decision to go the war vs. the way the war was sold to Congress and the public. It is not accurate to say that Bush lied about the intelligence, what is clear from the historical record is that Bush did not care about the intelligence. Paul Pillar, a senior official in the CIA during the run up to the war in Iraq (and a harsh critic of the Bush administration) emphasizes this point in his 2011 book, “Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy.” In other words, the decision to go to war was made well before all of the intelligence was available. This point is also made by retired Army colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (who was Colin Powell’s aide during the run up to the war)—see recent interview posted on “Democracy Now!” web site.

      • Chris OConnell

        Yes but there are 2 issues here: 1) the belief in the presence of WMDs, and 2) an alleged “good faith” decision to go to war. There was no good faith here, as Max Boot claimed. WMDs were a convenient excuse.

  • disqus_ekluVRhl3J

    I found it interesting that Mr. Krasny noted that Hezbolla and Hamas were funded heavily by Iran. Why didn’t he mention Israel’s biggest funder……the United States….who gives more aid to Israel than any other country. I find that rather one sided reporting and not something that I would expect from NPR. Disappointing.

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