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Deportations and counterinsurgency: a comparison of Malaya, Algeria and Romania

[journal article]

Miroiu, Andrei

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Abstract This article considers in a comparative historical and strategic perspective the large-scale deportations of restive populations during the Malayan Emergency, the Algerian War and the Romanian anti-communist rebellions. The failed American campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan witnessed a rebirth of military and academic interest in post-war counterinsurgencies (COIN), with an entire "COIN school" being put in charge of the two wars from 2006 to 2011. This particular school elevated the experiences of late colonial warfare, notably the French experience in Algeria and the British campaign in Malaya to the status of policy guides for the early 21st century world. However, one crucial aspect of these was not considered, both theoretically and militarily, for obvious political reasons. Both these conflicts witnessed large-scale deportations, amounting to between a fifth and a third of the population of these colonies. The democratic governments in London and Paris, signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dislocated millions of their subjects, destroyed their property and forced them to live in poverty and food deprivation in guarded settlements and concentration camps, undergoing interrogations, torture and systematic brainwashing. In Eastern Europe, following the Soviet example but with striking similarities with democratic countries, the government of Romania launched a similar program to defeat rebellions. This article considers the role of this "forced" mobility in shaping military victory in the three cases and argues that just by itself this aspect invalidates the strategic and political relevance of them for shaping COINs waged by democratic governments.
Keywords deportation; colonization; cold war; historical development; Algeria; Malaysia; Iraq; war; military intervention; experience
Classification Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy; General History
Document language English
Publication Year 2015
Page/Pages p. 177-194
Journal Studia Politica : Romanian Political Science Review, 15 (2015) 2
ISSN 1582-4551
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works