Chapter 3 – Colonization and “small wars”

Conventional wars—those seeking battle and ultimately, whatever the tactical approaches, frontal clash until one of the protagonists is defeated—have been rare since the end of World War I.

After the Chinese civil war (1945-1949), the few conventional wars have been: the Korean War (1950-1953), the Arab-Israeli wars (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973), the Indo-Pakistani wars (1948, 1965, 1971), the Falkland War (1982), even the short Russian-Georgian confrontation (2008), as well as a few battles, the most famous of which is that of Diên Biên Phu (1954). Others were waged, briefly, on the Himalayan heights between Chinese and Indian troops (1962), the Soviets and the Chinese at the Ussuri River (1969), and at the Chinese-Vietnamese border (1979).

Guerrilla warfare, or “small wars,” which in ancient times was never, with one exception, the subject of a treatise, has however not once in world history ceased to be a widely used form of combat: during peasant uprisings; by movements of resistance to foreign invaders, in particular during the constitution of empires (Roman, Ottoman, Napoleonian, and so on); and in civil wars, most often religion-based.1


  1. The one treatise devoted to “small wars” is De Velatione, attributed to Nikephoros Phokas, a general who became Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II (963-969).