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Instruments of Statecraft: U.S.

Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency, and Counterterrorism,

1940-1990 by Michael McClintock
Review by: Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones
The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4 (Oct., 1993), pp. 1347-1348
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the American Historical Association
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United States


not only with another nation-state but another culture as well.

Randall's success in moving beyond traditional diplomatic history is, however, only a partial one. Efforts
to explain the sources of United States or Colombian
policy almost always come down to some expression
of "national interest." Washington wishes to open the
door to Colombian trade and to deter rival powers in
the Caribbean area. Colombia wishes to protect its
domestic producers, expand its foreign trade, and
defend its national territory. Randall'sefforts to show
domestic forces and distinct cultures at work never
gets beyond an occasional reference to different perspectives: Washington expected Bogota to welcome
closer ties to a nation that could bring it economic and
security benefits; Bogota expected Washington to
respect its cultural maturity despite being less rich
and stable than the Yankees. This is fine, but the
scope of vision is narrow, especially in the coverage of
the twentieth century. Very little is said about Washington's desire to "save" Colombia from instability,
dictatorship, and European ideas, crusades that, after
1940, led the United States into forceful campaigns to
rid Colombia of Nazism and communism-as defined
in Washington. Such a role cannot be subsumed
under the rubric of national interest.
Little is said as well about the majority of Colombian society. It is the elites (who almost uniformly
hold the high posts in government) to which Randall
confines his view. Challenges to elite leadership by the
rising middle sectors, the organized working class,
and later by rural guerrillas are hardly mentioned
except as a source of "instability"that hampers Colombian elites from focusing clearly on foreign affairs. Randall never challenges the foreign policy
goals of the elites, chiding them only when they lack
the realism to accommodate U.S. interests, choosing
instead to strike quixotic poses. Nor is Washington's
anticommunist perspective challenged. Randall simply treats ideological crusading as an extension of the
old goal of stability. Even when he arrives at the
cocaine crisis of the 1970s and 1980s, with areas of
both countries turned into battlegrounds, Randall
maintains his equanimity and his realist perspective,
continuing to talk about the benefits of "interdependence" without realizing how much the ground has
shifted under his feet.
Ithaca College

ill-defined area of special operations as a whole" (p.

448). His aim is to explicate a policy that has been
obfuscated by the use of indirect, unattributable
methods shrouded, hitherto, in misleading terminology. He explains that the word "termination,"which
appears in special forces' manuals, really means "assassination." He assails the apologists' argument that
all wars produce terror with the observation that
there is no excuse for the use of terror in non-war
situations: "a distinction should be drawn between
circumstances that beget atrocity . .. and a policy that
relies on it" (p. 434).
McClintockmaintains that Americans are too often
blind to the fact that their own nation is a prime
source of terror. They could not see that the U.S.
battleship New Jersey's"battering of Lebanon's green
hills with behemoth shells" in 1983 was the major
instance of Middle Eastern terrorism. Yet most U.S.
terrorism is perpetrated indirectly through surrogates, by international criminals, and by totalitarian
regimes whose police and military have been tutored
by American experts in practices such as disinformation, torture, hostage-taking, and assassination. Thus,
the acronym "UCLA"took on an alternative meaning
during the years when Ronald Reagan was president;
"Unilaterally Controlled Latino Assets" were people
who "at one remove" could perpetrate crimes for
which their American tutors were morally responsible
but legally immune (p. 439).
These arrangements stemmed, in McClintock's
view, from a misapprehension by U.S. policy makers.
Those who shaped national security policy believed
that the Soviet Union was expertly deploying the
tactics of terror, and that American counter-terror
was a necessary reaction. There was a belief that all
insurgents whose activities were uncongenial to U.S.
policy makers were terrorists, and that terror was
their indispensable and most effective tactic. Consequently America became the mirror-image of a phantom, falling in the process into a cesspool of impotent
McClintocktraces the origins of American counterinsurgency to the German experience of antipartisan
practices in conquered territory in Russia and France
during World War II. He details the ways in which
the U.S. Army ingested the lessons, and in some cases
the personnel, of Adolf Hitler's attempt to dominate
Europe. Yet although he writes with some authority
on American anti-Huk stratagems in the Philippines,
he believes the "counterinsurgency era" began with
the presidency of John F. Kennedy. In terms of
MICHAEL MCCLINTOCK. Instrumentsof Statecraft:U.S.
tactics and ideology, there would appear to be a
and Counterterror- stronger case for an earlier starting date, such as that
ism, 1940-1990. New York: Pantheon. 1992. Pp. xix, postulated in Douglas S. Blaufarb's book TheCounter604. $30.00.
insurgencyEra: U.S. Doctrineand Performance,1950 to
the Present(1977). It is because McClintock thinks in
Michael McClintock argues that, in the case of the terms of quantifiable numbers of trained men-fortyUnited States, "terror remains at the heart of the one units with 7,500 men by Kennedy's death-that
doctrine of unconventional warfare and as such con- he makes his disputable assertion.
tinues to permeate both counterinsurgency and the
Following the Kennedy period of augmentation,





Reviews of Books

one atrocity followed another. Acting at different

times for the army and for the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA), Edward Lansdale engaged in childish,
murderous, and counterproductive pranks. Onethird of the population of South Vietnam was brutally
relocated by 1972. In later years, U.S. officials knowingly, if indirectly, "hired" bombers and also "terminated" Nicaraguan nurses. Yet such was the force of
self-deception that the "glamor"of the 1960s Green
Berets lived on. So powerful was the "irrational and
romantic" conviction that America needed to fight
fire with fire that sporadic attempts to mend the
totalitarian ways of foreign surrogates met with failure, most noticeably in the case of President Jimmy
Carter's human rights campaign. Vicarious terrorism
returned with a vengeance with Reagan's presidency.
Giving the lie to terrorism's self-proclaimed anticommunist rationale, the end of the Cold War made no
difference. By the author's estimate, the "special"
forces available to the president increased to 38,400
by 1990.
In places, McClintock is careless. For example, he
documents 1990 information with a 1986 source (pp.
349, 555 n. 8). He sheds little new light on the CIA,
and he overlooks Cecil B. Currey's biography Edward
Lansdale: The UnquietAmerican(1988), which would
have been an important source for his study. He
makes no convincing attempt to explain why the
secret and irregular warriors held unsustainable assumptions about Soviet external terror. But McClintock has uncovered a great deal of new archival
material on military covert plans and policy. His
critique of postwar American covert doctrine is devastating and is essential reading for any serious student of the history of U.S. national security.

Universityof Edinburgh
ALLON GAL. David Ben-Gurionand theAmericanAlignmentfor a Jewish State.Translated by DAVID S. SEGAL.
(The Modern Jewish Experience.) Bloomington: Indiana University Press for Magnes; Hebrew University, Jerusalem 1991. Pp. 280. $29.95.

The major theme of this study, published in Hebrew

in 1985, is the evolution of David Ben-Gurion's policy
toward the West during World War II. Portrayed by
Allon Gal as the first Zionist leader to comprehend
the wartime shift of power from London to Washington, Ben-Gurion became activist and Americentric.
After Britain issued the White Paper in May 1939 and
the Land Regulations in April 1940, Ben-Gurion
implemented "tziyonutlohemet"-militant Zionism-in
Palestine: illegal immigration, social unrest, and other
forms of civil disobedience designed to erode British
authority (p. 58). Although careful to avoid aiding
the Axis, Ben-Gurion emerged in 1941 as a selfappointed "Zionist preacher" (p. 191), encouraging


the Yishuv to resist the worst features of British

mandatory policy.
Simultaneously, Ben-Gurion mobilized U.S. Jews to
pressure London. He established the American Zionist Bureau in early 1939, enlisted American Jews to
lobby journalists and government officials, raised
money, recruited soldiers for a Jewish militia, nurtured alliances with fellow activistssuch as Abba Hillel
Silver and important groups such as Hadassah, Poalei
Zion, and the Zionist Organization of America, and
outwitted others who resisted him. His actions reflected his conviction that Zionists must remain attentive to "the press, the labor movement, churches, and
parliamentary and intellectual circles" (p. 187) in
Western countries. Ben-Gurion enjoyed dividends in
1941, when the United Palestine Appeal convention
endorsed his activist agenda, and in 1942, when the
Biltmore Conference echoed his demand for aJewish
commonwealth in Palestine.
Gal's second major theme is the rift that developed
between Ben-Gurion and Chaim Weizmann. Compared to Ben-Gurion, Weizmann remained passive
and Anglophilic, confident that steadfast loyalty to
Britain offered the best means of defeating the Nazi
menace and advancing Zionist aims in Palestine.
Thus, Weizmann eschewed Ben-Gurion's militant diplomacy for "shtadlanut"
or "quiet diplomacy" (p. 38)
and exhorted fellow Jews with "Chaim's injunction"
(p. 51) against anti-British activities. Thus, Weizmann
launched political initiatives in Turkey and Saudi
Arabia as alternatives to Ben-Gurion's scheming in
America, which he feared would disrupt the anti-Nazi
struggle. Thus, Weizmann quarreled with BenGurion in late 1940 over the wisdom of challenging
London's authority while Britain lay vulnerable to
Nazi conquest. "Without England," Weizmann argued, "we cannot make it" (p. 203). Ben-Gurion's
triumph at the Biltmore Conference provoked a
"stinging exchange" (p. 203) with Weizmann in June
1942 and an enduring split with him thereafter.
Gal impressively bases the development of his
themes on research in Israeli, British, and U.S.
records. He also discusses cogently, although briefly,
the shifting streams of Zionist thinking and politicking in all three countries. Rendered in a sympathetic
tone, his judgments about Ben-Gurion's wisdom, ambition, and perceptiveness are reasoned and persuasive. Yet the niche in the literature that this book fills
is a narrow one. Gal focuses only on the two themes
discussed here, and some of his discussion will seem
familiar to readers of Michael Bar-Zohar, Shabtai
Teveth, and others.
OhioState University,
STEVEN Z. FREIBERGER. Dawn over Suez: The Rise of
AmericanPower in the Middle East, 1953-1957. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. 1992. Pp. 286. $26.50.