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The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945-1967$
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David French

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587964

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587964.001.0001

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Gangsters, Thugs, and Bandits: The Enemies of the Colonial State

Gangsters, Thugs, and Bandits: The Enemies of the Colonial State

(p.42) 2 Gangsters, Thugs, and Bandits: The Enemies of the Colonial State
The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945-1967

David French

Oxford University Press

Britain’s wars of decolonisation were conducted against the backdrop of the Cold War, and officials and ministers were beset by the supposed communist threat to their empire. In reality most of their opponents were motivated by radical nationalism, not communism. Convinced of the moral righteousness of their imperial mission, they condemned those who opposed them as ‘bandits’, thugs, and gangsters’, and readily cracked down on them. On the ground members of the security forces took a more nuanced view. Some hated their enemies and demanded harsh measures against them, some respected them for fighting for a cause, most simply got on with the job they had been given.

Keywords:   Cold War, origins of insurgencies, roots of coercion, soldiers, policemen

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