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The War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare' by Robert Taber

The author is a QUB Pol Sci Honours graduate and has written extensively on imperialism, national liberation struggles and class issues.

the-war-of-the-flea-the-classic-study-of-guerrilla-warfare-by-robert-taber

The 'War of the Flea: The Classic Study Of Guerrilla Warfare' by Robert Taber arguably surpasses Carlos Marighella's "Handbook of Urban Guerrilla Warfare", "On Rural Guerrilla Warfare", "Guerrilla Tactics and Operations" contained in his book 'For The Liberation of Brazil', is perhaps one of the most valued studies in the national liberation struggles internationally.

The War of The Fleais timeless and has been utilized as a tactical and ideological manual from every group opposing imperialist armies, from the NVA and Vietnamese National Liberation Front (called the 'Viet Cong' by the USA), Hezbollah, Ejército de Liberación Nacional ELN, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—Ejército del Pueblo, FARC–EP, ETA to Irish National Liberation movements, to name just a fraction of its adherents. Robert Taber, quotes Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese commanding general from 1944-1978, on guerrillas fighting a conventional Western army, who obviously concurs that:

“The enemy will pass slowly from the offensive to the defensive. The blitzkrieg will transform itself into a war of duration. Thus, the enemy will be caught in a dilemma: He has to drag out the war in order to win it, and does not possess, on the other hand, the psychological and political means to fight a long, drawn-out war.”

Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN

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Taber is an excellent analyst of anti-imperialist struggles and arguably, even more valuable has an insight into the mindset of the 'dog' attacked by the 'flea',

“Whether the primary cause of revolution is nationalism, or social justice, or the anticipation of material progress, the decision to fight and to sacrifice is a social and a moral decision. Insurgency is thus a matter not of manipulation but of inspiration."

In short, Taber states the obvious, which habitually seems to escape the one-dimensional thinking of the imperialists and their mercenary proxies, that national liberation wars and various guerrilla struggles are not conducted by conscripted dullards or economic conscripts but by highly motivated individuals within a coherent command structure every bit as sophisticated as their oppressors, though based on a significantly different model.

In a clear reference to the USA's humiliating defeat in Viet Nam, Taber continues:

'I am aware that such conclusions are not compatible with the pictures of guerrilla operations and guerrilla motivations drawn by the counterinsurgency theorists who are so much in vogue today. But the counterinsurgency experts have yet to win a war. At this writing, they are certainly losing one.'

As like the so-called 'Sovietologists' or 'Kremlinologists' of bygone days, self-proclaimed counterinsurgency theorists work almost exclusively in the abstract, except for infrequent highly cloistered, security heavy supervised visits to the various imperialist 'green zones' in countries whose land and labour they have raped and plundered or being prevented from doing so.


Hezbollah - The Lebanese Broad Front Resistance

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Tabor continues on the myopia of the so-called counter-insurgency experts,

'Their picture is distorted because their premises are false and their observation faulty. They assume–perhaps their commitments require them to assume–that politics is mainly a manipulative science and insurgency mainly a politico-military technique to be countered by some other technique; whereas both are forms of social behaviour, the latter being the mode of popular resistance to unpopular governments.”

In more modern times we have seen the poverty of this form of thinking, most notably the 'Shock and Awe' doctrine employed in Iraq and elsewhere by the American imperialists. It effectively employed a type of 'Howitzer theory', ie, fire enough ordnance as heavily and powerfully at a target and it will eventually crumble. This may work well in demolishing civil engineering structures and no doubt there is a degree of 'awe' involved and predictably as always, it is amplified by the supine media of the imperialist powers. However, it will never be enough to sap the will of the people to resist in the long term.

Female Irish Republican Resistance Fighter Armed With An AR-18

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Asymmetric Warfare

Since Taber's opus massive amounts of resources in the form of Think Tanks, specialist units, tame academia and 'experts' have surfaced to counter or attempt to understand Asymmetric warfare. For instance, Hezbollah's continuing successes against the Zionist entity in 2000, 2006 and its pivotal role in the Axis of Resistance success in the Syrian Civil War and the routing of the imperialist Takfiri proxies.

Taber's War of The Flea doctrine is even echoed by ageing Cold warrior and (alleged) war criminal, Henry Kissinger when he stated that:

We Fought a military war; Opponents Fought a political one. We sought physical attrition, Opponents Aimed for our psychological exhaustion. In the process, we lost sight of one of the cardinal maxims of guerilla war. The guerilla wins if he does not lose, the conventional army loses if it does not win. The North Vietnamese used their forces the way a bullfighter uses its cape - to keep us lunging into areas of marginal political importance. ' (Kissinger, 1969, 214)

As seen above, Kissinger vindicates Taber's hypotheses by his presumably honest (?) mea culpa. Many may be tempted to say that it is the most honest utterance Rockerfella's homeboy Kissinger has ever made publicly..


What Is Asymmetrical warfare?

  • Asymmetrical warfare | Britannica
    Asymmetrical warfare, unconventional strategies and tactics adopted by a force when the military capabilities of belligerent powers are not simply unequal but are so significantly different that they cannot make the same sorts of attacks on each othe

Arm Saoirse Náisiúnta na hÉireann / Irish National Liberation Army

the-war-of-the-flea-the-classic-study-of-guerrilla-warfare-by-robert-taber

The Soviet Origins of Russian Hybrid Warfare

Further Reading

Revolution – Main Trend in The World Today

'A WEAK NATION CAN DEFEAT A STRONG ONE, A SMALL NATION CAN DEFEAT A BIG ONE. THE PEOPLE OF A SMALL NATION CAN CERTAINLY DEFEAT AGGRESSION BY A BIG COUNTRY, IF ONLY THEY DARE TO RISE IN STRUGGLE, DARE TO TAKE UP ARMS AND GRASP IN THEIR OWN HANDS THE DESTINY OF THEIR COUNTRY. THIS IS THE LAW OF HISTORY.'

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

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