The Long History of America’s Dark Side

[In recent times, it has become difficult to avoid seeing the words “counter-insurgency” which are used as if this is something new in the US’ book of war strategies.  But counter-insurgency was developed long ago, updated periodically, and used in wars of conquest, occupation, colonialism, neo-colonialism, plunder and ethnic cleansing.  While the US has been a major force developing the strategy and applying it, it has also been used by the US’ partners, allies, as well as adapted by its competitors and imperialist challengers, both old and new.  This article from, traces some of the US history of this strategem.-ed.]

By Peter Dale Scott and Robert Parry
October 7, 2010

There is a dark — seldom acknowledged — thread that runs through U.S. military doctrine, dating back to the early days of the Republic.

This military tradition has explicitly defended the selective use of terror, whether in suppressing Native American resistance on the frontiers in the 19th Century or in protecting U.S. interests abroad in the 20th Century or fighting the “war on terror” over the last decade.

The American people are largely oblivious to this hidden tradition because most of the literature advocating state-sponsored terror is carefully confined to national security circles and rarely spills out into the public debate, which is instead dominated by feel-good messages about well-intentioned U.S. interventions abroad.

Over the decades, congressional and journalistic investigations have exposed some of these abuses. But when that does happen, the cases are usually deemed anomalies or excesses by out-of-control soldiers.


American colonists gave smallpox-infested blankets to the indigenous, in an early form of germ warfare/counter-insurgency

But the historical record shows that terror tactics have long been a dark side of U.S. military doctrine. The theories survive today in textbooks on counter-  insurgency warfare, “low-intensity” conflict and “counter-terrorism.” Continue reading