Brief Introduction by Marina Urquidi
Why has the West stopped winning wars, when since it set out to conquer the world in the sixteenth century and through to World War II, it had been almost systematically victorious? After World War II, beginning with the French defeat in Indochina, the tables began to turn to its disadvantage. The United States itself, with or without its allies, has engaged in costly interventions and has obtained nothing but mediocre military results along with disastrous political consequences.
To answer this question, Gérard Chaliand, a French strategist, geopolitics expert, field observer, and professor, offers here a clear and sweeping view of the West’s engagement in asymmetric, or irregular warfare since the Spanish conquest of Latin America and much later, for instance, the US intervention in Vietnam, to today’s ongoing conflict in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, where previously successful recipes for victory have turned into failed attempts and useless occupation quagmires. As he discusses the reasons for this, we face a nagging underlying question: Does the West still really want to win wars? At what cost?
The book, published originally in French by Odile Jacob in March 2016, then again in September 2017 with an updated foreword, was awarded the “Prix du maréchal Foch” by the distinguished French Academy, the Académie française, in 2017. Yet its English translation has been turned down by a dozen English-language publishers, none of which questioned the quality of the translation, but rather cited their reluctance to its content. Feeling that the English-speaking world should be allowed to consider the question from this unique perspective, the author has decided to make it available on line for free.
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It was my privilege to translate this book into English in close collaboration with the author. Our deep appreciation to François Soulard, whose Internet skills enabled us to publish this book on line.