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Algeria War 1954-1962
Modern Times ^ | 1983 | Paul Johnson

Posted on 04/24/2002 1:18:49 PM PDT by JasonC

Warning - this post contains blunt descriptions of the realities of a particularly brutal and ugly war. There are parts of it that are not for delicate sensibilities or for the faint of heart. I put this at the start of the piece instead of at the end, as is customary for poster's comments, so that those who want to spare themselves such things know to steer clear before they read it.

I post it anyway because I think the lessons of this history are very important to understanding many currents in contemporary politics. Including terrorism as a political method, Arab nationalism and its confidence in those methods, European (especially French) attitudes towards the middle east, the background of Le Pen in France (who fought in this war), duplicity and extremism in politics, and the moral contagion of evil - to name only the most obvious. It is also worth mentioning that Algerians are still fighting each other to this day, with many of the same methods.

I am personally convinced that no one who is unaware of this history can really understand current events, what our enemies are after and why they think it can "succeed", and thus what we are up against in the current war on terrorism. I also heartily recommend the whole of Paul Johnson's book "Modern Times". You can buy it quite cheaply from Amazon at the link provided. There is as much important detail in it, 70 times over, on other events. Another fine history in greater detail about the Algerian war is Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace". It seems to be out of print, but you should be able to find it in any good library.

The rest is Johnson himself, from pages 495 to 505 of Modern Times.

Algeria was the greatest and in many ways the archetype of all anti-colonial wars. In the 19th century the Europeans won colonial wars because the indigenous peoples had lost the will to resist. In the 20th century the roles were reversed, and it was Europe which lost the will to hang on to its gains. But behind this relativity of wills there are demographic facts. A colony is lost once the level of settlement in exceeded by the growth rate of the indigenous peoples. 19th century colonialism reflected the huge upsurge in European numbers. 20th century decolonization reflected European demographic stability and the violent expansion of native populations.

Algeria was a classic case of this reversal. It was not so much a French colony as a Mediterranean settlement. In the 1830s there were only 1.5 million Arabs there, and their numbers were dwindling. The Mediterranean people moved from the northern shores to the southern ones, into what appeared to be a vacuum: to them the great inland sea was a unity, and they had as much right to its shores as anyone provided they justified their existence by wealth creation. And they did: they expanded 2000 square miles of cultivated land in 1830 to 27000 by 1954. These pied noirs were only 20 per cent French in origin (including Corsicans and Alsacians). They were predominantly Spanish in the west, Italian (and Maltese) in the east. But rising prosperity attracted others: Kabyles, Chaouias, Mzabite, Mauritanians, Turks and pure Arabs, from the mountains, the west, the south, the east. And the French medical services virtually eliminated malaria, typhus and typhoid and effected a prodigious change in the non-European infant mortality rates. By 1906 the Muslim population had jumped to 4.5 million; by 1954 to 9 million. By the mid 1970s it had more than doubled again. If the French population had risen at the same rate, it would have been over 300 million by 1950. The French policy of "assimilation", therefore, was nonsense, since by the year 2000 Algerian Muslims would have constituted more than half the French population, and Algeria would have "assimilated" France rather than the reverse. (Aside - in actuality, Algeria now has 32 million people to 60 million in France).

By the 1950s there were not enough pied noirs for long-term survival as a dominant class or even an enclave. Only a third of Algiers' 900,000 inhabitants were Europeans. Only in Oran were they a majority. Even in the most heavily settled part, the Mitidja, the farms were worked by Muslim labor. In 1914 200,000 Europeans had lived off the land; by 1954 only 93,000. By the 1950s most pied noirs had ordinary, poorly paid city jobs Arabs could do just as well. The social structure was an archaeological layer cake of race prejudice: 'the Frenchman despises the Spaniard, who despises the Italian, who despised the Maltese, who despises the Jew; all in turn despise the Arab.' There was no pretence of equality of opportunity: in 1945 1400 primary schools catered for 200,000 European children, 699 for 1.25 million Muslims. Textbooks began "Our ancestors, the Gauls..."

More serious, however, was the fradulence of the electoral system. Either the reforms passed by the French parliament were not applied at all, or the votes were cooked by the local authorities themselves. It was this that cut the ground beneath the many well educated Muslim moderates who genuinely wanted a fusion of French and Muslim culture. As one of the noblest of them, Ahmed Boumendjel, put it: "The French Republic has cheated. She has made fools of us." He told the assembly: "why should we feel ourselves bound by the principles of French moral values... when France herself refuses to be subject to them?" The elections of 1948 were faked; so were those of 1951. In such circumstances, the moderates had no effective role to play. The men of violence moved forward.

There was a foretaste in May 1945, when the Arabs massacred 103 Europeans. The French reprisals were on a savage scale. Dive bombers blew 40 villages to pieces; a cruiser bombarded others. The Algerian Communist Party journal Liberte called for the rebels to be "swiftly and pitilessly punished, the instigators put in front of a firing squad." According to the French official report, 1020 to 1300 Arabs were killed; the Arabs claimed 45000. Many demobilized Arab soldiers returned home to find their families dead, their homes demolished. It was these former NCOs who formed the leadership of the future Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN). As the most conspicuous of them, Ahmed Ben Bella, put it: "the horrors of the Constantine area in May 1945 persuaded me of the only path: Algeria for the Algerians." The French commander, General Duval, told the pied noirs: "I have given you peace for 10 years."

That proved to be entirely accurate. On 1 November 1954, the embittered NCOs were ready: Ben Bella, by now an experienced urban terrorist, linked forces with Belkacem Krim, to launch a national uprising. It is important to grasp that the object, from start to finish, was not to defeat the French Army. That would have been impossible. The aim was to destroy the concept of assimilation and multi-racialism by eliminating the moderates on both sides. The first Frenchman to be murdered was a liberal, Arabophile schoolteacher, Guy Monneret. The first Arab casualty was a pro-French local governor, Hadj Sakok. Most FLN operations were directed against the loyal Muslim element: employees of the state were murdered, their tongues cut off, their eyes gouged out, then a note, "FLN", pinned to their mutilated bodies. This was the strategy pioneered by the Mufti in Palestine. Indeed many of the rebel leaders had served him. The ablest, Muhamedi Said, commander of the "Wilaya 3" in the Kabyle mountains, had joined the Mufti's "Muslim SS Legion", had parachuted into Tunisia as an Abwehr agent, and declared: "I believed that Hitler would destroy French tyranny and free the world." He still wore his old SS helmet from time to time. His disciples included some of the worst killers of the 20th century, such as Ait Hamouda, known as Amirouche, and Ramdane Abane, who had sliced off breasts and testicles in the 1945 massacres, read Marx and Mein Kampf in jail, and whose dictum was "one corpse in a suit is always worth more than 20 in uniform." These men, who had absorbed everything most evil the 20th century had to offer, imposed their will on the villages by sheer terror; they never used any other method. Krim told a Yugoslav newspaper that the initiation method for a recruit was to force him to murder a designated "traitor", mouchard (police spy or informer) French gendarme or colonialist: "an assasination marks the end of the apprenticeship of each candidate." A pro-FLN American reporter was told: "When we've shot (the Muslim victim) his head will be cut off and we'll clip a tag on his ear to show he was a traitor. Then we'll leave the head on the main road." Ben Bella's written orders included: "Liquidate all personalities who want to play the role of interlocuteur valable". "Kill any person attempting to deflect the militants and inculcate in them a bourguiben spirit." Another: "Kill all the caids (Islamic judges)...take their children and kill them. Kill all who pay taxes and those who collect them. Burn the houses of Muslim NCOs away on active service." The FLN had their own internal reglements des comptes, too: the man who issued the last order, Bachir Chihani, was accused (like Roehm) of pederasty and sadistic sex-murders, and chopped to pieces along with 8 of his lovers. But it was the Muslim men of peace the FLN killers really hated. In the first two and a half years of war, they murdered only 1035 Europeans but 6532 Arabs (authenticate cases - the real figure was nearer 20000). By this point the moderates could only survive by becoming killers themselves or going into exile.

The FLN strategy was, in fact, to place the mass of the Muslims in a sandwich of terror. On the one side, the FLN killers replaced the moderates. On the other, FLN atrocities were designed to provoke the French into savage reprisals, and so drive the Muslim population into the extremist camp. FLN doctrine was spelt out with cold blooded precision by the Brazilian terrorist Carlos Marighela:

"It is necessary to turn political crisis into armed conflict by performing violent actions that will force those in power to transform the political situation of the country into a military situation. That will alienate the masses, who, from then on, will revolt against the army and the police... The government can only intensify its repression, thus making the lives of its civilians harder than ever... police terror will become the order of the day... The population will refuse to collaberate with the authorities, so that the latter will find the only solution to their problems lies in the physical liquidation of their opponents. The political situation of the country will then have become a military situation."

Of course this odious variety of Leninism, if pursued ruthlessly enough, has a certain irresistible force. The French government in 1954 was composed, on the whole, of liberal and civilized men, under the Radical-Socialist Pierre Mendes-France. They shared the illusion - or the vision - that Algeria could become a genuine multi-racial society, on th principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Mendes-France, who had happily freed Indochina and Tunisia, told the Assembly: "the Algerian departments are part of the French Republic... they are irrevocably French... there can be no conceivable secession." On Algeria, said his interior minister, Francois Mitterand, "the only possible negotiation is war." Both men believe that, if France's own principles were now at last fully and generously turned into an Algerian reality, the problem would be solved. They sent out as Governor-General Jacques Soustelle, a brilliant ethnologist and former resistence fighter, to create this reality. What they did not realize was that the FLN's object was precisely to transform French generosity into savagery.

Soustelle saw the FLN as facists. He thought he could defeat them by giving the Arabs genuine democracy and social justice. He created 400 detachments of Kepis blues (SAS) in remote areas to protect loyalists. He brought in dedicated liberals like Germaine Tillion and Vincent Monteil to set up networks of centres sociaux and maintain contacts with Muslim leaders of opinion. He sought desperately to bring Muslims into every level of government. His instructions to the police and army forbade terror and brutality in any form and especially collective reprisals. It is unlikely that Soustelle's policy of genuine integration could have succeeded anyway, once the French themselves realized what it involved: France did not want to become a half Arab, half Muslim nation, any more than most Arabs wanted to become a French one. But in any case the FLN systematically murdered the instruments of Soustelle's liberal policy, French and Arab. They strove hardest to kill those French administrations who loved the Arabs; and usually succeeded. One such victim was Maurice Dupuy, described by Soustelle as a "secular saint". At his funeral Soustelle was in tears as he pinned the Legion d'Honneur on the eldest of Dupuy's 8 orphaned children, and it was then he first used the word "revenge".

In the summer of 1955 the FLN went a stage further and adopted a policy of genocide: to kill all French without distinction of age or sex. On 20 August the first massacres began. As always, they embraced many Arabs, such as Allouah Abbas, nephew of the moderate nationalist leader Ferhat Abbas, who had criticized FLN atrocities. But the main object was to provoke French army reprisals. At Ain-Abid near Constantine, for instance, 37 Europeans, including 10 under 15, were literally chopped to pieces. Men had their arms and legs cut off, children their brains dashed out, women were disemboweled - one pied noir mother had her womb opened, her 5 day old baby slashed to death, and then replaced in her womb. This "Philippeville Massacre" succeeded in its object: French paratroopers in the area were given orders to shoot all Arabs and (by Soustelle's account) killed 1273 "insurgents", which FLN propaganda magnified to 12000. It was the 1945 massacre over again. As Soustelle put it, "there had been well and truly dug an abyss through which flowed a river of blood." French and Muslim liberals like Albert Camus and Ferhat Abbas, appearing on platforms together to appeal for reason, were howled down by all sides.

From this point the Soustelle experiment collapsed. The war became a competition in terror. The focused switched to the Algiers Casbah, where every square kilometer housed 100,000 Algerians. It began with the execution of a crippled murderer, Ferradj, who had killed a 7 year old girl and 7 other civilians. The FLN commander, Ramdane Abane, ordered 100 French civilians to be murdered for every execution of an FLN member. On 21-24 June 1956, his chief killer, Saadi Yacef, who controlled a network of bomb factories and 1400 "operators", carried out 49 murders. The violence grew steadily through the second half of 1956 - parallel with the build up to the Suez adventure. The French Mayor of Algiers was murdered, and a bomb carefully exploded in the middle of the funeral ceremony: Yacef secretly ordered all his operators out of the area in advance, to make certain that in the subsequent wild reprisals only innocent Muslims were killed.

The Suez debacle was important because it finally convinced the army that civilian governments could not win the war. Robert Lacoste, Soustelle's socialist successor, conceded the point. On 7 January 1957 he gave General Jacques Massu and his 4600 men absolute freedom of action to clean the FLN out of Algiers. For the first time all restraints on the army, including the banning of torture, were lifted. Torture had been abolished in France on 8 October 1789. Article 303 of the Penal Code imposed the death penalty for anyone practicing it. In March 1955 a secret report written by a senior civil servant recommended the use of supervised torture as the only alternative to prevent much more brutal unauthorized torture. Soustelle had flatly rejected it. Now Massu authorized it, as he later admitted: "was there really torture? I can only reply in the affirmative, although it was never either institutionalized or codified." The argument was that successful interrogation saved lives, chiefly of Arabs; that Arabs who gave information would be tortured to death, without restraint, by the FLN, and it was vital for the French to make themselves feared more. It was the Arab belief that Massu operated without restraints, as much as the torture itself, which caused prisoners to talk. But non-Muslims were tortured, too. One, a Communist Jew called Henri Alleg, wrote a best selling book which caused an outburst of moral indignation in France in 1958. Massu claimed that interrogation by his men left no permanent damage. On seeing Alleg, looking whole and well, on the steps of the Palais de Justice in 1970, he exclaimed:

"Do the torments which he suffered count for much alongside the cutting off of the nose or of the lips, when it was not the penis, which had become the ritual present of the fellaghas to their recalcitrant brothers? Everyone knows that these bodily appendages do not grow again!"

But the notion that it was possible to supervise limited torture effectively during a war for survival is absurd. In fact, the liberal Secretary-General of the Algiers Prefecture, Paul Teitgen, testified that about 3000 prisoners "disappeared" during the Algiers battle. At all events Massu won it. It was the only time the French fought the FLN with its own weapons. Algiers was cleansed of terrorism. Moderate Arabs dared to raise their voices again. But the victory was thrown away by a new policy of regroupment of over a million poor fellahs, a piece of crude social engineering calculated to play into FLN hands. Besides, the Massu experiment set up intolerable strains within the French system. On the one hand, by freeing army units from political control and stressing the personalities of commanders, it encouraged private armies: colonels increasingly regarded themselves as proprietors of their regiments, as under the monarchy, and began to manipulate their generals into disobediance. In the moral confusion, officers began to see their primary obligation as towards their own men rather than the state.

At the same time, news leaking out of what the army had done in Algiers began to turn French liberal and centre opinion against the war. From 1957 onwards, many Frenchman came to regard Algerian independence, however distasteful, as preferable to the total corruption of the French public conscience. Thus the demand for the restoration of political control of the war - including negotiations with the FLN - intensified just as the French army was, as it believed, winning by asserting its independence. This irreconcilable conflict produced the explosion of May 1958 which returned General de Gaulle to power and created the Fifth Republic.

De Gaulle was not a colonialist. He thought the age of colonies was over. His body seemed in the past but his mind was in the future. He claimed that at Brazzaville in 1944, when marshalling black Africa behind the Resistence, he had sought "to transform the old dependent relationships into preferential links of political, economic, and cultural cooperation." He saw the half hearted continuation of French colonialism as the direct result of the weakness of the Fourth Republic's constitution, which he despised, and the "regime of the parties", incapable of "the unequivocal decisions decolonization called for." "How could it", he asked, "have surmounted and if necessary broken all the opposition, based on sentiment, habit, or self-interest, which such an enterprise was bound to provoke?" The result was vacillation and inconsistency, first in Indochina, then in Tunisia and Morocco, finally and above all in Algeria. Naturally, he said, the army "felt a growing resentment against a political system which was the embodiment of irresolution."

The coup was detonated, probably deliberately, by the FLN decision on 9 May 1958 to "execute" 3 French soldiers for "torture, rape, and murder". 4 days later, white students stormed the government headquarters in Algiers. Massu asked Lacoste, who had fled to France, whether he had permission to fire on the white mob. He was not given it. That night, at a Brecht play attacking generals, a left wing audience applauded deliriously. But not one was actually prepared to fight for the Fourth Republic. In Algiers, the generals took over, and called for de Gaulle's return. Some 30000 Muslims went to the government forum to demonstrate their approval. They sang the Marseillaise and the army song, Chant des Africains: a spontaneous demonstration in favor of French civilization and against the barbarism of the FLN. Massu said "let them know that France will never abandon them." When the generals called for de Gaulle they were lying, for they saw him merely as a battering ram, to smash the Republic and take power themselves. De Gaulle thought Algeria was untenable and would destroy the French army. Indeed, he feared even worse might happen. On 24 May a detachment from Algeria landed in Corsica. The local authorities fraternized. Police sent from Marseilles allowed themselves to be disarmed. De Gaulle took over to avert an invasion of France itself, which would probably have succeeded or, alternatively, produced civil war. He saw ominous parallels with the begining of the Spanish catastrophe in 1936. It would, he thought, finally destroy France as a great civilizing power. If Paris was worth a mass, France herself was worth a few lies.

So, having taken power, he went to Algiers to deceive. On 4 June he told the howling colon mob in Algiers: "Je vous ai compris" (I have understood you). "I tossed them the words," he wrote, "seemingly spontaneous but in reality carefully calculated, which I hoped would fire their enthusiasm without committing me further than I was willing to go." He had said the previous year, privately, "of course independence will come but they are too stupid there to know it." "Long live French Algeria!" he chanted publicly in June 1958; privately; "L'Afrique est foutue et l'Algerie avec" (Africa is lost and Algeria with it). He called French Algeria "a ruinous Utopia". Publicly he continued to reassure the colons and the army. "Independence? In 25 years." (October 1958). "The French army will never quit this country and I will never deal with those people from Cairo and Tunis". (March 1959). "There will be no Dien Bein Phu in Algeria. The insurrection will not throw us out of this country." "How can you listen to the liars and the conspirators who tell you that in granting free choice to the Algerians, France and de Gaulle want to abandon you, to pull out of Algeria and hand you over to the rebellion?" (January 1960). Independence... A folly, a monstrousity." (March 1960).

Meanwhile, he got an ever tighter grip on the state. On 28 September 1958 the French adopted the constitution of the Fifth Republic, concentrating power in the president. On 21 December he was elected president. The same referendum which created the new constitution gave all French overseas the right of association or departure. The notion of consent thus became universal. One by one, de Gaulle broke or removed the men who had hoisted him to office. In February 1960 he demanded and received "special powers". 4 months later he opened secret talks with the FLN leaders. In January 1961 he held a referendum offering Algeria freedom in association with France, and got an overwhelming "yes" vote. It was the end of Algerie Francais and it brought its extremist supporters out into the open, bombs in hand.

If the army leadership had insisted on taking power in May 1958, it could have done so, with or without de Gaulle. By April 1961, when it finally grasped de Gaulle's deception and sought to overthrow him, the chance had been missed. French opinion had moved on. The conscripts had transistor radios; they could hear the news from Paris; they refused to follow their officers. The revolt collapsed; its leaders surrendered or were hunted down and jailed. That left the way open for a complete scuttle. Captured FLN leaders were released from prisons to join talks just as the rebel French generals were begining their sentences.

White terrorism, the OAS (Organization de l'Armee Secrete), took longer to deal with. It operated at full blast for over a year, using bombs, machineguns and bazookas, killing over 12000 civilians (mainly Muslims) and about 500 police and security men. It illustrates the fearful power of political violence to corrupt. Indeed, in many ways it was the mirror image of the FLN. On 23 February 1962, its leader General Salan, who had had a distinguished career as an honorable soldier, issued orders for

"a generalized offensive... the systematic opening of fire against CRS and gendarmerie units. Molotov cocktails will be thrown against their armored vehicles... night and day... (The objective is) to destroy the best Muslim elements in the liberal professions so as to oblige the Muslim population to have recourse to ourselves... to paralyze the powers that be and make it impossible for them to exercise authority. Brutal actions will be generalized over the whole territory... at works of art and all that represents the exercise of authority in a manner to lead towards the maximum of general insecurity and the total paralysis of the country."

Nor did the corruption stop at the OAS. For in order to beat them and to protect de Gaulle himself (twice nearly murdered), the state built up its own official terror units, which murdered and tortured prisoners with impunity, and on a wide scale. In this case, neither liberal France nor the international community raised a whisper of protest. OAS terrorism finally killed the idea of a white settlement. At the end of 1961 de Gaulle's closest advisor, Bernard Tricot, reported back from Algiers: "The Europeans... are so hardened in opposition to everything that is being prepared, and their relations with the majority of the Muslims are so bad, that... the essential thing now is to organize their return."

The end came in March 1962, in an orgy of slaughter and intolerance. The Muslim mob, scenting victory, had already sacked the Great Synagogue in the heart of the Casbah, gutting it, ripping up the Torah scrolls, killing the Jewish officials and chalking on the walls "death to the Jews" and other Nazi slogans. On 15 March the OAS raided Germaine Tillion's social center, where handicapped children were trained, took out 6 men and shot them to death, begining with the legs. One of them was Mouloud Feraoun, friend of Camus, who had termed him "the last of the moderates". He had written: "there is French in me, there is Kabyle in me. But I have a horror of those who kill... Vive la France, such as I have always loved! Vive l'Algerie, such as I hope for! Shame on the criminals!" The ceasefire with the FLN, 19 March 1962, brought a further burst of OAS killing: 18 gendarmes and 7 soldiers were murdered. The French commander, General Ailleret, retaliated by destroying the last redoubt of Algerie francaise, the pied noir working class quarter of Bab-el-Oued, with its 60000 inhabitants. He attacked it with rocket-firing dive-bombers, tanks firing at point blank range and 20000 infantry. It was the suppression of the 1870 Commune all over again; but this episode does not figure in the Marxist textbooks. That was effectively the end of Algeria as a multiracial community. The exodus to France began. Many hospitals, schools, laboratories, oil terminals and other evidence of French culture and enterprise - including the library of the University of Algiers - were deliberately destroyed. About 1.38 million people (including some Muslims) left in all. By 1963, of a large and historic Mediterranean community, only about 30000 remained.

The Evian agreements, under which france agreed to get out, contained many clauses designed to save France's face. They were meaningless. It was a straight surrender. Not even paper protection, however, was given to 250000 Muslim officials, many of a very humble kind, who had continued to serve France faithfully to the end. De Gaulle was too busy saving France by extricating itself from the horror, to give them a thought. When a Muslim deputy, 10 of whose family had already been murdered by the FLN, told de Gaulle that, with self-determination, "we shall suffer", he replied coldly: "Eh, bien - vous suffrirez" (So good - you shall suffer). They did. Only 15000 had the money and means to get out. The rest were shot without trial, used as human mine detectors to clear the minefields along the Tunisian border, tortured, made to dig their own tombs and swallow their military decorations before being killed; some were burned alive, castrated, dragged behind trucks, fed to the dogs; there were cases where entire families including tiny children were murdered together. The French army units that remained, their former comrades in arms, stood by, horrified and powerless, for under the Agreements they had no right to interfer. French soldiers were actually employed to disarm the Muslim harkis, telling them they wouldbe issued with more modern weapons, although in fact they were about to be slaughtered. It was a crime of betrayal comparable to the British handing over Russian POWs to Stalin's wrath; worse, indeed. Estimates of the number put to death vary from 30000 to 150000.

Who knows? A great darkness descended over many aspects of the new Algeria, a darkness which has never been lifted since. The lies continued to the end. "France and Algeria", said de Gaulle on 18 March 1962, would "march together like brothers on the road to civilization". The truth is, the new nation owed its existence to the exercise of cruelty without restraint and on the largest possible scale. Its regime, composed mainly of successful gangsters, quickly ousted those of its members who had been brought up in the western tradition; all were dead or in exile by the mid 1960s.

Exactly 20 years after the independence agreement was reached, one of the chief signatories and Algeria's first president, Ben Bella himself, summed up the countries first two decades of independent existence. The net result, he said, had been "totally negative." The country was "a ruin". Its agriculture had been "assassinated". "We have nothing. No industry - only scrap iron." Everything in Algeria was "corrupt from top to bottom". No doubt Ben Bella's bitterness was increased by the fact that he had spent most of the intervening years imprisoned by his revolutionary comrades. But the substance of his judgement was true enough. And unfortunately the new Algeria had not kept its crimes to itself. It became and for many years remained the chief resort of international terrorists of all kinds. A great moral corruption was planted in Africa. It set a pattern of public crime and disorder which was to be imitated throughout the vast and tragic continent which was now made master of its own affairs.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: algeria; clashofcivilizatio; france; history; pauljohnson; terrorism
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I hope this is interesting...
1 posted on 04/24/2002 1:18:49 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
bump for later reading
2 posted on 04/24/2002 1:21:58 PM PDT by Gladwin
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To: JasonC
The whole book is 'interesting', read it years ago and have been reminded of it frequently by what is happening today.
3 posted on 04/24/2002 1:51:23 PM PDT by Mahone
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To: JasonC
Indeed it was.
4 posted on 04/24/2002 1:55:09 PM PDT by Phillip Augustus
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To: Dark Wing;Phil V.
This is what a successful Islamic revolution means to its people.
5 posted on 04/24/2002 1:59:43 PM PDT by Thud
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To: JasonC
Fascinating at the very least. The lesson I draw from it is that it is a waste of time to fight terrorism unless you can identify the leaders and philosophers of the movement and execute them as quickly as they can be identified and found.
6 posted on 04/24/2002 2:01:24 PM PDT by Enterprise
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To: JasonC
I hope this is interesting... Without a doubt!

Thanks for this great post, Jason.

7 posted on 04/24/2002 2:18:39 PM PDT by TopQuark
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To: JasonC
A great moral corruption was planted in Africa. It set a pattern of public crime and disorder which was to be imitated throughout the vast and tragic continent which was now made master of its own affairs.

Fascinating. Although I'd have to say that much of what we see in contemporary africa has as much to do with the removal of 'colonial' restraint upon the darker consequences of the savagery and tribalism that has always ruled at the heart of African sensibilities.

8 posted on 04/24/2002 2:31:37 PM PDT by Noumenon
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To: *Clash of civilizatio
index bump
9 posted on 04/24/2002 2:59:15 PM PDT by Fish out of Water
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To: JasonC
It is interesting.

For one thing it describes what seems to be underway in our own nation vis-a-vis multiculturalism out of the Marxist playbook.

It also gives a few hints about how and why both the French and US lost in Vietnam--our enemies know how to turn their own people against the military as we saw in Vietnam and will surely see attempted here.

10 posted on 04/24/2002 3:21:11 PM PDT by doxteve
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To: doxteve
"Know how" may be a bit strong. They do know how to create opportunities for such pressures to arise. But our own people have to fall for it, at various levels. Guerilla politics places the greatest strain on the discrimination of the adversary, on his ability to keep distinct his enemies and his friends, based on their actions, beliefs, and choice of side.

Instead of letting the population divide along the guerillas' preferred lines of cleavage, based on sociological categories (race, class). They start out not remotely speaking for such large categories, merely thinking in terms of them. They try to force everyone else to think in terms of them, alone, by trying to make them the only relevant, life or death political matters. If they succeed in that, then they get whole huge categories of supporters, and the exact fight they desired between them. They ride their role in creating the fight to leadership of one side of it.

Remember that a quarter of a million Arab officials were loyal to the end, but abandoned by the French. Nothing is more revealing than that Eh Bien, you shall suffer. That was not created by the FLN, it was there from the outset and the war merely revealed it, by making the opposite course expensive. The contempt the political leadership of France had for their loyal charges in Algeria was the crux of the issue, the prior political basis for their eventual abandonment.

Guerilla politics is a sort of moral ju-jitsu of evil. It makes use of the worst aspects of its adversary - his bigotry, his extremism, his indifference, his duplicity. Those doing the using are far, far worse, of course. They are conscious moral corrupters for ulterior ends. But their targets are not angels, and that is half of why it worked. Naivete is not an answer either, as though childlike simplicity and kindness would be invunerable to such methods.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is not simply a matter of nasty people knowing a nasty political technique. They put moral (and intellectual, but primarily moral) strains on their adversaries. Those adversaries bear some of the responsibility for how they react to the test that sets up.

Theologically speaking, devils tempt but sinners fall.

11 posted on 04/24/2002 4:18:34 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
bump for the night crowd...
12 posted on 04/24/2002 9:38:05 PM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
Near the beginning of this passage, Johnson seems to suggest that the reprisals against terrorism planted the seeds for eventual defeat:

As the most conspicuous of them, Ahmed Ben Bella, put it: "the horrors of the Constantine area in May 1945 persuaded me of the only path: Algeria for the Algerians."

Do you think this suggests that brutal response to the current terrorist acts by the PLO (which I certainly support) will sow the seeds of defeat in the future?

13 posted on 04/25/2002 5:22:32 AM PDT by benjaminthomas
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To: benjaminthomas
Indiscriminate reprisals strengthen the terrorists. Targeted ones weaken them. Aim is everything.

If you hit only murderers, you create the right incentives in the group the terrorists pretend to speak for - that becoming a murderer is dangerous, while not being one is safe. But if you take the easy way out of the aim problem and just target the whole demographic group wholesale, then you hit 9 innocents for every murderer you hit, and they all have relatives. So you recruit more new murderers than you kill old ones. The size of the terrorist group, of the hard liners not the whole demographic, goes up.

The key is to focus on the size of the radicalized, committed group, including their recruitment. Aim, discrimination between those who are really your enemies and those who are not, is the all important thing.

14 posted on 04/25/2002 10:15:12 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: benjaminthomas
I will extend my previous response. The political alternatives at war are the demographic categories of the terrorists on the one hand, and the moral-political categories of the authorities on the other hand. The terrorists are trying to get everyone to orient themselves based on race or class, what people *are*, and to ignore what people *do*, including the morality of their own actions and the political choices to support this or that side that each individual freely makes.

They don't want to leave any choices. They want every Arab to be the enemy of every Jew, and every Jew to be the enemy of every Arab, regardless of his own opinion in the matter or anything either side has done. The counter of the authorities is to pay attention to morality - what men do - and to leave choices. Those who commit or support terrorists are the enemies of the authorities. Those who do not, are not the enemies of the authorities.

Obviously this is not easy in practice, on two fronts. On the practical front, the authorities have a need for intel that the terrorists do not. It is much harder to know what people have done than what category they fall into. So there is a tendency to not bother.

The second is a moral front, inside the party supporting the authorities. They are being *tempted* to say "to heck with the morals crap, it really is a fight between sociological category A and category B, and I'm in B, so off with the heads of everybody in A". That is what leads straight to General Massu and the competition in terror that Johnson describes. (It is also what Le Pen stands for - he was an intelligence officer for Massu).

And if followed, it splits the pro-authority camp internally, politically. While it can unify and add recruits to the terrorist camp.

In the case of the 1945 events, what was ruinous about them is that wholly loyal men, men who had spent the second half of WW II fighting for the French army against the Germans in the North African Free French formations, came home to the destruction of their homes and families. You will not get anywhere blasting away at your own allies among the people the terrorists pretend to speak for.

Notice that this second part is a moral difficulty at bottom. If the authorities don't really care whether subject A supports them and behaves honorably or is a criminal, and just think of him as a "wog" or a "slope" or a "towelhead", then they aren't going to aim very well.

So, morality and intel in the aiming. That means moral clarity, though, too. Because it is equally possible to err on the other side, and treat as innocent, or appease, men who are actually in the camp of the terrorists. That prevents effective targeting and provides a sort of sanctuary.

The authorities cannot themselves decide how large the group of their enemies is. They can't just decide that only 10% are "really" against them and the rest are "innocent". Whether people side with the terrorists is up to each of them, individually.

The authorities in a sense have to respect their choice in the matter. You can't choose for them and just pretend, or you discourage all those actually on your side (by treating bastards just as well as them), and give sanctuary to enemy fighters.

Moral clarity and proper aim line up. Anyone who really acts as your enemy must be treated as one. Anyone who really acts innocently must be treated as innocent. It is the fact that the authorities leave this choice to individuals that morally distinguishes them from the terrorists. That is the "selling point" to the moderates. They have a possibility of peace, of a peace in which they will not be treated as enemies. Something the terrorists cannot offer, because membership in their social categories is not optional.

You see why I call it a sort of moral test of the enemies of the terrorists. Their discrimination between friends and enemies - entirely realistic, but not beyond what the real choices of individuals requires - is on trial.

In the case of the PA, it is clear that a very high portion of the population has chosen the side of the terrorists. Up to 3/4 support the bombings, for instance. Undoubtedly some of that is coerced, due to fear of PA goons and their summary executions. But whatever its cause, it is the practical reality at the moment. That does justify stern measures, and a loss to the goals of the community as a whole (e.g. reduction in territory, non-contact with Israel).

But you don't want to kill or demolish the houses of the 25% that do not support the bombings, if you can at all help it. And you want if possible to restore the practical possibility of choice for individuals as to whether to support terrorists - e.g. by policing the population to keep goons from summarily executing those who oppose them or their methods.

Moral clarity, good intel, and careful aim at the guilty - that is the recipe. It is not easy.

15 posted on 04/25/2002 10:47:43 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
It is not easy.

The understatement of the year? ;-)

Thank you for your thoughtful and incisive posts. I am trying to absorb the lessons of Johnson's account of the Algerian experience. Perhaps the die was cast in 1945, and anything after that was a fait accompli, but would the clarity, intel and aim you suggest now have led to a different result against an enemy as entrenched and rabid as the FLN? Short of total annihilation?

Today's obvious mirror image being the PLO, with their stated goals (destruction of Israel), I'm not sure even targeted incursions will lead to success. Look at what (by any reasonable standard) remarkably targeted, precise efforts the the IDF got Israel -- almost universal condemnation (though one hopes the backroom conversations/agreements with Bush et al belie the public statements).

16 posted on 04/25/2002 12:38:51 PM PDT by benjaminthomas
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To: JasonC, monkeyshine, ipaq2000, Lent, veronica, Sabramerican, beowolf, Nachum, BenF, angelo, bost
If you want on or off me Israel/MidEast/Islamic Jihad ping list please let me know.  Via Freepmail is best way.............

alt

17 posted on 04/25/2002 12:40:40 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: dennisw;all
FYI--

An overview of the whole bloody subject:

ICT - Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism

TERRORism

Algeria:

Algerian Crisis - Crise Algerienne - Isl...

ERRI Terrorism HotSpot Report on Algeria

100,000 victims of terrorism in Algeria

Terrorism: Peru and Algeria

A little historical perspective:

The Ambassadors REVIEW - Spring 1998

18 posted on 04/25/2002 12:56:43 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: benjaminthomas;jasonc
Look at what (by any reasonable standard) remarkably targeted, precise efforts the the IDF got Israel -- almost universal condemnation (though one hopes the backroom conversations/agreements with Bush et al belie the public statements).

Sorry -- should read:

Look at what (by any reasonable standard) remarkably targeted, precise efforts by the IDF got Israel -- almost universal condemnation (though one hopes the backroom conversations/agreements with Bush et al belie the public statements).

19 posted on 04/25/2002 12:58:43 PM PDT by benjaminthomas
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To: Noumenon
much of what we see in contemporary africa has as much to do with the removal of 'colonial' restraint upon the darker consequences of the savagery and tribalism that has always ruled at the heart of African sensibilities.

Yep. Look at Rhodesia....

20 posted on 04/25/2002 12:59:08 PM PDT by backhoe
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To: doxteve
The vietnamese were willing to see their own citizens sacrificed in their effort. They had no respect for human life, for civilian life, for children. No different than the Palestinians. Use children as sacrifices. Exploit the civilian population, coerce them into dying so you can gain power.
21 posted on 04/25/2002 1:56:19 PM PDT by OldFriend
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To: JasonC
Thank you for posting the excerpt from Paul Johnson.

And a very big thank you for your insightful comments.

The conclusion that I personally draw is that colonialism carries in itself the seeds of its defeat. Either the Algerians were going to turn the tables on the French by becoming the majority and voting themselves to power, or they would bomb them out of Africa, which is what actually happened.

The only way that the French could have prolonged their rule was through unrelenting iron-fisted crackdowns on the natives, which was impossible for a country founded on the principles of the French revolution.

In fact, any colonizing power faces that same dilemma. For centuries, the Arabs managed to maintain and expand their colonial empire because they had no moral qualms and did not have to contend with Human Rights Watch or Peter Jennings. But eventually, the colonized turned the tables on them too and wrested power from them (Moguls, Ottomans, etc.)

The solution, if there is one, will have to involve elements such as a crushing defeat of Saddam Hussein, deposition of the House of Saud, and doing on a larger scale in the Arab world what you recommend with a single population, i.e. identify and promote "cooperative" countries and punish the enemies.

For Israel, I believe the only chance of survival is to annex the entire West Bank and expel all Arabs from there. Yet I do not see how this can be done unless the U.S. at least stands clear, and this is currently out of the question. Even then, there would still be the one million Israeli Arab citizens to contend with. They have been curiously quiet during this intifada, despite a relentless incitement campaign from Arafat, his agents, and the Palestinian broadcast media. (Several months ago, I read that only a single suicide bombing was committed by an Israeli Arab.)

If the Israeli Arabs can be co-opted into Israeli society more than they are today, then long-term survival for Israel is possible.

22 posted on 04/25/2002 4:30:16 PM PDT by tictoc
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To: JasonC; psyops; Colorado Tanker; Libertina; pissed off janitor; happygrl;Dennisw;sjackson...
Thanks for the post and your illumination of it. Adding this to my profile with 5 stars!
23 posted on 04/25/2002 5:35:55 PM PDT by sleavelessinseattle
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To: dennisw
The truth is, the new nation owed its existence to the exercise of cruelty without restraint and on the largest possible scale. Its regime, composed mainly of successful gangsters, quickly ousted those of its members who had been brought up in the western tradition; all were dead or in exile by the mid 1960s.

24 posted on 04/25/2002 8:48:13 PM PDT by Victoria Delsoul
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To: JasonC
Bump ...
25 posted on 04/25/2002 8:53:15 PM PDT by BunnySlippers
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To: JasonC
BTTT: back to read it carefully as soon as I clear out my reply to stack.
26 posted on 04/25/2002 11:07:05 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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btttttttttttttt
27 posted on 04/26/2002 2:54:11 AM PDT by dennisw
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To: tictoc
"Either the Algerians were going to turn the tables on the French by becoming the majority and voting themselves to power, or they would bomb them out of Africa... could have prolonged their rule was through unrelenting iron-fisted crackdowns...impossible for a country founded on the principles of the French revolution."

I look at it somewhat differently. The truth is what you say is that a nation committed to democratic principles could not avoid a transition of power to Alergian Arabs as Arabs became the dominant ethnic group in the country. (I note in passing that the pied noirs were also "Algerians", born there). But it was not inevitable that the Arabs that took power would be murdering bastards, nor that they would use that power without restraint to kill all moderates, and drive all whites from the country at the point of a gun.

Two obvious alternative end-states were available. The best would be a democratic state with something like dominion status, self-governed by a local legislature, but bicameral. With the upper house representing ethnicities and using a super-majority voting rule, that would effectively block extreme measures for or against any particular minority. The Arab majority would then rule the country as their numbers grew, yes. But with the consent and subject to a limited veto by minorities, whether European or tribal.

A second possible end-state would be partition and enclaves of local self-government in particular areas, especially towns (Oran e.g.), where white majorities remained, while the rest of the country attained independence, and with it Arab rule. The French government could continue to provide security in either end state. In the second case, that might be as difficult as the British have found Northern Ireland, but it need not have resulted in outright abandonment, nor the deaths of half a million to a million people.

Instead the French conducted the conflict between only two possibilities. Continued white rule based on faked election results, led by governors appointed directly from France and enforced by the French army - or outright capitulation to the FLN, if in some cases thinly masked by empty referenda on continued "association" with France. Soustelle's interim attempt at real democracy lacked any sustainable basis, because it was based on preserving Algeria's status as a department of France. Which as Johnson rightly notes, was not something either the majority of the French nation, or the Arabs, actually wanted. Even the pied noirs only wanted it "tactically", in order to have 50 million white metropolitan Frenchmen outvote 15 million Algerian Arabs.

The violent repression of 1945 laid the seeds of future conflict, certainly. But it also bought time. The general who conducted it told the pied noirs they had 10 years. He did not give this warning with the idea that they would sit still, faking elections and maintaining a society based on the "layer cake of race prejudice", until the situation blew up in their face again. They should have used the immediate aftermath to begin a transition to something like dominion status, before the FLN got going. They did not. They instead ignored the warning and pretended that French military repression would always be there to maintain their status as the dominant race in Algeria.

When the situation finally blew up again, the 4th Republic tried Soustelle's liberal policy. Which, with a better political end-state than continued department status, and especially if attempted right after 1945, might have worked out. If tried back then it could be presented as a legitimate reward for Algeria's support for Free France in the second half of WW II. The US gave the Philipines independence for the same sort of reason at the same time. By doing so, we kept their friendship, our presence, and our military bases. There was not the same colonial white minority as in Algeria, to be sure, so our job was much easier.

But there remains an enourmous difference between granting something generously when its future necessity is noticed, but not under pressure, and grudgingly moving half-way towards it only in response to a vicious campaign of terrorism. Here, I entirely agree with de Gaulle's assessment, that the irresolution of the 4th Republic, unable to cut through any determined opposition to tackle problems before they grew acute, was disasterous for France. I would only add that the pied noirs made their own mistakes here, too. Faking the elections between 1945 and 1954 was incredibly arrogant and stupid. It meant throwing away legitimate claims on metropolitan France for aid and defense, on liberal democratic principles. It left the pied noirs with only a race appeal - "save us whites" - which was bound to prove politically marginal in democratic metropolitan France.

Even in the time of Soustelle, the campaign was not yet lost. No question it was bad, but not irrecoverable. The French did not have to react to the FLN assassination campaigns by giving way to a passion for revenge. They did not have to react to the FLN's artistic savagery by ordering the paras to shoot all Arabs on sight. They could have conducted sweeps in which they arrested large numbers of Arabs, detained them for questioning without mistreating them, and released those who were not named by the others or otherwise implicated. Instead they gave way to rage and race-hatred, which gave the FLN exactly what it required to complete its "sandwich of terror".

Once the French began competing in terror, the war was grim and any future settlement distinctly unlikely. But the war was not lost outright even then, or at least the outcome could have been better even in the event of loss. The torturers could have been put back in their box, or better yet drummed out of the army. The coup attempt was an arrogant act of folly. The pied noirs had by then lost contact with political realities in France, and refused to face the basic problem of their situation. Which was that only France could defend them, but France would only defend actions and institutions defensible from the standpoint of liberal democracy, and in particular that it would never defend a race-based authoritarianism enforced by torture.

In passing, the refusal to give the army authority to contain the colon mob by force during the coup was another error. Later it came to fighter bombers and tanks blasting OAS supporting pied noir neighborhoods. It would have been better to nip the matter in the bud, than to have let the colons think (falsely) that the army would never touch them.

That the situation was still retrievable even after de Gaulle came back may be seen by a few indicators. Hundreds of thousands of Algerian Arabs still supported the French. The moderates began to speak again in the aftermath of Massu's campaign. The army was still willing to follow de Gaulle, and so were the pied noirs, as long as they did not suspect outright abandonment was the goal. De Gaulle knew that some form of independence was inevitable. But that need not have meant military abandonment, nor FLN rule.

The French army was still winning the war in conventional terms at that time. The pied noirs had not yet embraced terrorism themselves. The Harkis (loaylist Algerian Arabs) were still willing to fight to defend the moderates (indeed, they were the *last* to give up, long after the French and even after the OAS), and FLN extremism was still hated by many, in Algeria as well as in France. But to de Gaulle, the whole affair and any honor France had in the matter were less important than repairing the rift in the French army, and political divisions in metropolitan France caused by those rifts. So he told them, "you shall suffer", and sold them out. That may have been realistic, but it was not a forced course of action.

Even if the French knew they were going to leave, they did not have to abandon the harkis, or disarm them. They did not have to legitimize the FLN as the only possible leaders of the country after they left. They did not have to use the army to blast colon neighborhoods to pieces while sparing the FLN even in the middle of its rampages. The OAS was of course insane to think resorting to terrorism would help their own cause. They thought the situation would be symmetrical, that the authorities made concessions to the FLN out of simple weakness, and so the authorities would make concessions to them if they proved more frightful themselves. They utterly failed to understand the political basis of the FLN strategy. They reduced it to "violence pays". It brought them nothing, and made it politically easy for de Gaulle to abandon them as rapidly as possible.

This mass of unforced errors does not strike me as an inevitable sequence. Better decisions could have changed the outcome significantly right up to the end, when the loyalist harkis could have at least been evacuated along with the French. Would any of the alternative decisions have resulted in continued white rule of a democratic Algeria? No, of course not. Numbers alone were going to prevent that. But there was a wide range of possible outcomes between that pied noir fantasy and the abyss the FLN actually plunged the country into.

28 posted on 04/26/2002 11:34:37 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: benjaminthomas
...a different result against an enemy as entrenched and rabid as the FLN? Short of total annihilation?

"Aim and Discrimination" does not rule out "total annihilation", philosophically. It makes it difficult, but it is the ideal accomplishment, so it is worth the effort.

29 posted on 04/26/2002 1:24:00 PM PDT by ecomcon
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To: ecomcon
it is the ideal accomplishment

We certainly agree on that! Your previous post (#28) also provided good perspective regarding whether what happened really was a fait accompli. Much appreciated.

30 posted on 04/26/2002 3:32:31 PM PDT by benjaminthomas
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To: JasonC;dennisw;harpseal;Squantos;wardaddy
It is important to grasp that the object, from start to finish, was not to defeat the French Army. That would have been impossible. The aim was to destroy the concept of assimilation and multi-racialism by eliminating the moderates on both sides. The first Frenchman to be murdered was a liberal, Arabophile schoolteacher, Guy Monneret. The first Arab casualty was a pro-French local governor, Hadj Sakok. Most FLN operations were directed against the loyal Muslim element: employees of the state were murdered, their tongues cut off, their eyes gouged out, then a note, "FLN", pinned to their mutilated bodies. This was the strategy pioneered by the Mufti in Palestine.
31 posted on 04/26/2002 3:39:01 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: Patriotic American;Jefferson Adams;noumenon;Lazamataz
FLN doctrine was spelt out with cold blooded precision by the Brazilian terrorist Carlos Marighela:

"It is necessary to turn political crisis into armed conflict by performing violent actions that will force those in power to transform the political situation of the country into a military situation. That will alienate the masses, who, from then on, will revolt against the army and the police... The government can only intensify its repression, thus making the lives of its civilians harder than ever... police terror will become the order of the day... The population will refuse to collaberate with the authorities, so that the latter will find the only solution to their problems lies in the physical liquidation of their opponents. The political situation of the country will then have become a military situation."

32 posted on 04/26/2002 3:43:37 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: Travis McGee
Boy howdy....these Muslims are a peaceful bunch wherever they are. Algeria is still such an inviting place to visit. Don't the Fundies sometimes go into villages and torture and execute everyone from infants to seniors just to make a point.

This is our enemy. We need to recognize him or her and the dogma masquerading as a religion and deal with them accordingly. Harshly and punitively. I don't think we're yet ready to handle the truth. I thought 9-11 would have done it but we are soft as putty.

33 posted on 04/26/2002 3:50:28 PM PDT by wardaddy
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To: Clive;TEXASPROUD
And unfortunately the new Algeria had not kept its crimes to itself. It became and for many years remained the chief resort of international terrorists of all kinds. A great moral corruption was planted in Africa. It set a pattern of public crime and disorder which was to be imitated throughout the vast and tragic continent which was now made master of its own affairs.
34 posted on 04/26/2002 3:59:41 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: JasonC
Indiscriminate reprisals strengthen the terrorists. Targeted ones weaken them. Aim is everything.

That should be chiseled in granite!

35 posted on 04/26/2002 4:01:04 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: wardaddy
We'll have to become as tough and ruthless as the Serbs and Spanish Conquistadors to win this in the long run.

And we won't until we lose entire cites, unfortunately.

There is no living peacefully with them. They must be wiped out or pushed out.

Remember, Mohammed Atta was a model "moderate muslim" until 9-11.

36 posted on 04/26/2002 4:05:40 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: Knighthawk
VERY important history lessons here, applicable today!!!
37 posted on 04/26/2002 4:17:41 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: Travis McGee
The May 1945 part?
38 posted on 04/26/2002 4:35:57 PM PDT by knighthawk
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To: JasonC
The original post and your comments are much appreciated.

FR is a better place to get a good education about history than the media...or from many schools.

Very useful. Thanks.

39 posted on 04/26/2002 5:55:49 PM PDT by okie01
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To: Travis McGee
That's old commie stuff. Straight from their handbook on guerilla warfare that has big contributions from Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Castro and Che Guevara. Of course Arafat knows this sh!t backwards and forwards and has tried to implement it. 

It is exceedingly difficult to fight guerrillas. Particularly ones made deranged by fanatical religious doctrine. But Ariel Sharon has had experience doing just this. In the 1950's he commanded the primo anti- terror unit of IDF...... He is no dope.

40 posted on 04/26/2002 6:12:30 PM PDT by dennisw
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To: knighthawk
Yes, and the conduct of the war by both sides, the French military/political dance etc.
41 posted on 04/26/2002 9:52:35 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: okie01;JasonC;Matthew James;jmurphy4413;RLK
I agree wholeheartedly with okie.
42 posted on 04/26/2002 9:53:59 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: dennisw;Knight hawk
Yes, the quote by Marighela is indeed "old commie stuff", the Mufti's "contribution" (sic, very sic) was to raise the stakes to ultra-horror with the bloodthirsty baby chopping massacres etc etc.

These belief beggering horrors were calculated precisely to cause extreme over reaction by the security forces and fast-forward the process of splitting and radicalizing both sides, leading to the total destruction of "the middle", and finally to the possibility of a "military solution" for the terrorists.

This is the same game Arafat has been playing for 40 years.

43 posted on 04/26/2002 10:00:53 PM PDT by Travis McGee
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To: JasonC
Anyone have a good book on this war, I always wanted to read something on it.
44 posted on 04/26/2002 10:10:11 PM PDT by Mr.Clark
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To: JasonC
Incredible post. Thank you. I will check out the book.

Incidentally, I'm currently reading AJP Taylor's The Struggle for Mastery in Europe, 1848-1814. Do you know it?

45 posted on 04/26/2002 10:22:44 PM PDT by cicero's_son
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To: JasonC
Aspects of this remind me of Viet Nam. Terror trumps all else.
46 posted on 04/26/2002 10:33:35 PM PDT by RLK
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To: Travis McGee
Great thread - thanks!
47 posted on 04/27/2002 6:20:24 AM PDT by Matthew James
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To: Mr.Clark
Look for "A Savage War of Peace" by Alistair Horne.
48 posted on 04/27/2002 7:30:29 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: RLK
Yes. Remember the French fought there before we did, losing the north. Bernard Fall's two books on their war in Nam, "Street Without Joy" and "Dien Bien Phu" help bring out the similarities. Although they are more narrowly focused on the military aspects of the campaign, they do cover other elements. The French Foreign Legion and the French Paras picked up some habits in that war, which repeated and worsened in Algeria.

I would slightly change the moral, though. It is not that terror trumps all else, as though whoever resorts to it more ruthlessly wins. The conflict between guerilla terrorists and the authorities is not a symmetric one. Terrorism tends to set off a immoral "race to the bottom" on both sides, which hurts the authorities while helping the guerillas.

That is probably what you meant. But it is important to distinguish that from "terror is trump", because it is too easy to read the latter as encouraging or requiring excesses by the authorities that play into the hands of guerillas. Not to mention the mistakes of the OAS, which believed it so literally, they thought white terrorism would save French Algeria. Which was insane, politically naive, and failed miserably.

Such wars are harder for the authorities than for the guerillas, above all *morally* harder. Which also means harder politically, to keep one's side united. On the other hand, it is often overlooked how much harder they can be for the guerillas *militarily*. The FLN lost something like half a million men in their war against the French. The NVA lost a million plus. Losses to the conventional militaries of the French and the US were 25-30 times smaller.

Properly aimed (by good intel, and with moral restraint), superior conventional military power can make a big difference. The guerillas do not always win, either. The British showed in Burma that such tactics could be militarily defeated, when a viable political end-state was the goal. If the strategy is not understood, however, and events just drift, the Algerian history shows were things end up.

49 posted on 04/27/2002 7:46:33 AM PDT by JasonC
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To: JasonC
As an administrator, even if you are a blessed saint, you lose if you can not guarantee the physical safety of the people. Eventually the people will be forced to support the guerilla movement to preserve their own lives. The communits in Viet Nan began by killing 25,000 villagers. It worked.
50 posted on 04/27/2002 7:54:39 AM PDT by RLK
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