Table of contents

Twenty years ago


PART I – Victory, a Western art

CHAPTER 1 – Wars of conquest

Asymmetric-war models

The conquest of Mexico – The conquest of Peru

European colonial expansion

Invading Asia by skirting Africa – The conquest of Africa and the role of Islam – The last major armed migration

CHAPTER 2 – The West’s advantage

Factors of success

Qualitative superiority – A divided adversary

First-hand knowledge of the field and the adversary

Time and wars of attrition – Faraway public opinion

Importance of the demographic factor

CHAPTER 3 – Colonization and “small wars”

The reappearance of guerrilla warfare

Theorizing guerrilla warfare – On the ground…

From guerrilla warfare to counterinsurgency

Great figures of the colonization era

What was the human toll?

PART II – The reversal

CHAPTER 4 – The “clash of civilizations”

The oppressor’s values

The role of ideology

Effects of the Great War

The Sykes-Picot Agreement and Kemalist Turkey – The British and the French in the Near East – The Bolshevik Revolution facing resistance

The turning point of the 1930s

Breaking the status quo

CHAPTER 5 – The end of the colonial world

From guerrilla warfare to revolutionary war

The mobilizing ideology

The end of imperial Europe

From the Indochina War to the Algerian War – Less and less effective counterinsurgencies

The Vietnam War

Việt Minh advantages and the American adversary’s mistakes – The Tet Offensive – Lessons of the Vietnam War

PART III – The Western quagmire

CHAPTER 6 – The first war in Afghanistan

Evolution of the situation in the Middle East

The Palestinian national question – Saudi Arabia’s diffusion of militant Islam – Creation of a theocratic state in Iran

Soviet failure in Afghanistan

The first Gulf War (1991)

From September 11 to the punitive expedition in Afghanistan

CHAPTER 7 – The Iraq War

The plan to reshape the “Greater Middle East”

From the fall of Baghdad to the occupation

Fatal mistakes – The fast emergence of the insurrection – An occupant hated by all – From the civil war to US departure – Taking the toll

CHAPTER 8 – The Afghan deadlock

The Taliban comeback

The international coalition side

The 2007 reversal

What solutions?

CHAPTER 9 – The Syrian imbroglio

Beginnings of the civil war

ISIL’s intervention

In closing…

What are the short-term outlooks of this conflict?

A few references