Wars of national liberation

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Image:Flag of Mozambique.svg
Flag of Mozambique — independent since 1975, with the kalashnikov as symbol of the armed struggle against the Portuguese empire, the book as symbol of instruction and a farm instrument as symbol of economic growth. As of 2006, this display of the kalachnikov currently makes the object of a debate between the FRELIMO independantist party, who wants to keep it in memory of the national liberation war, and the conservative RENAMO party who wants to take it out.

Wars of national liberation are conflicts fought by indigenous military groups against an imperial power in the name of self-determination, thus attempting to remove that power's influence, in particular during the decolonization period. They are often founded in guerrilla warfare or asymmetric warfare. Such guerrillas, which may include acts considered as "terrorism" by the opposing state, could hardly win without substantial outside help from another state <ref> See for example Gérard Chaliand various books; French interview here </ref>. According to political scientist Gérard Chaliand, all guerrillas aimed against European colonial powers were always a political success, although they may have been in some cases a military defeat. However, according to Gwynne Dyer, the tactics and strategies used against colonial powers were almost invariably failures when used against indigenous regimes.

Bangladesh, which became independent in 1971 due to India's intervention in the war against Pakistan could be considered an exception to this rule.


[edit] Strategies and tactics

Wars of national liberation are usually fought using guerilla tactics. The main purpose of these tactics is to increase the political cost of occupation of the colonial power past the point where the colonial power is willing to bear, thereby creating a political settlement. Wars of national liberation generally depend a large amounts of popular support, with ordinary civilians providing crucial intelligence and logistic support. Finally, wars of national liberation are often embedded in a larger context of great power politics and are often proxy wars.

These strategies explain why they are quite successful against colonial regimes and quite unsuccessful against indigenous regimes. Colonial regimes usually have a threshold beyond which they would prefer to go home rather than to fight the war. By contrast an indigenous regime has no place to go to, and will fight much harder because of the lack of alternatives. Moreover, colonial regimes usually have relatively few active supporters, who can often be easily identified, making it possible for guerrilla armies to operate. By contrast, indigenous regimes often have much more popular support, and their supporters are not as easily recognized, making it much harder to conduct guerilla operations.

[edit] Decolonization of the Americas

Following the American War of Independence (1775-1783), the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), which led to the proclamation of Haiti as the first independent black republic in 1804, and the wars of independence led in the 1810-1820s by famous Libertadores such as Simón Bolívar in the North and José de San Martín in the South, led to the decolonization of most of the Americas. Brazil's independence was declared in 1822 by Dom Pedro I.

[edit] National liberation wars of the decolonization period

Further information: Decolonization and Colonialism

The First Indochina War (1946-54), the Algerian War of Independence (1954-62) and the Vietnam War (1959-75) were some of the most famous national liberation wars. The African National Congress (ANC)'s struggle against the apartheid regime is also part of these wars. These wars were in part supported by the Soviet Union, which claimed to be an anti-imperialist power. In fact, since the 1917 October Revolution, the revolutionary objectives of communism were shared by many anticolonialist leaders, thus explaining the objective alliance between anticolonialist forces and Marxism. The concept of "imperialism" itself had been which had theorized in Lenin's famous 1916 book, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. For example, Ho Chi Minh — who founded the Viet-Minh in 1941 and declared the independence of Vietnam on September 2, 1945, following the 1945 August Revolution — was a founding member of the French Communist Party (PCF) in 1921. In January 1961, over three years before the Gulf of Tonkin incident which would mark the United States' increased involvement in the Vietnamese conflict, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev would pledge support for "wars of national liberation" throughout the world. In the same decade, Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, would support national liberation movements in Angola and Mozambique. The Portuguese colonial wars finally led to the recognition of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau as independent states in 1975, following the April Carnation Revolution.

[edit] On-going wars of national liberation

The neutrality of this section is disputed.
Please see the discussion on the talk page.

Polisario Front's struggle since 1975 for the independence of Western Sahara, still on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories, is an on-going national liberation war, more or less frozen since James Baker's 2000 UN Plan, which hasn't been applied yet but led to the Polisario's abandon of armed struggle against Morocco. The First and Second Chechen Wars are also considered to be wars of national liberation against Russia, while the Iraq War is a war of national liberation against the coalition. According to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) (widely designated as terrorist organization), founded in 1964, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a case of national liberation struggle ongoing since decades, with the main revendication being the return of the territories occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War. At the time of the PLO's establishment, Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip, although their efforts at the time were to eradicate Israel. Before Israel's modern establishment, Zionism was seen as a national liberation movement. As a result of the seccessionist policies of former Yugoslavia, a detachment of defrocked Kosovo politicians declared on 2 July 1990 an independent "Republic of Kosovo" from the Republic of Serbia's Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. After the dissolution of SFRY, they held an unconstitutional referendum for independence in 1992 that passed and ever since a conflict between the Albanian separatists, freedom-fighters & terrorists led by the Kosovo Liberation Army and the Yugoslav-Serbian military & paramiltary armed forces lasted until 1999, when a temporary peace was brokered and the province became a UN protectorate according to the 1244 Resolution. Negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade are in progress making a compromise on the future status of Kosovo. The ethnic Albanians mostly desire independence and continue that the struggle will not be over until Kosovo is finally independent. Ethnic clashes between the Albanian and non-Albanian populace are frequent from 1999 to this very day.

[edit] Conflicts

Conflicts commonly thought of as wars of national liberation:

[edit] References


[edit] See also

nl:Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog ja:独立戦争 ru:Национально-освободительное движение

Wars of national liberation

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