4 comments on “The Jungle Books

  1. Thanks for this Derek, lots of stuff I will be following up on. I think an important reference is also Emperors in the Jungle: The Hidden History of the U.S. in Panama by John Lyndsay-Poland. The book, among other things, talks a good deal about Panama as a laboratory and proving ground for the U.S. military’s approach to fighting in/against tropical jungles, climates, and peoples. Besides the Everglades, I guess, there was also Panama. I suspect many of the FMs you cite sprouted in part from the Pentagon’s involvement in and around its military-commercial enclave in Panama.

  2. Thanks so much Teo; I’m sure you’re right and I’ll follow up Emperors in the Jungle. Caputo, like many others, also traces US doctrine back to the British in Malaya:
    ‘We practiced tactics perfected by the British during the Malayan uprising in the 1950s, a conflict that bore only a facile resemblance to the one in Indochina. Nevertheless, it was the only successful counterinsurgency waged by a Western power in Asia, and you could not argue with success. So, as always seems to be the case in the service, we were trained for the wrong war; we learned all there was to know about fighting guerrillas in Malaya.’
    That’s as may be, but – as Dan Clayton notes – Robert Thompson, a British veteran of counterinsurgency in Burma and Malaya and a Kennedy adviser, complained that most US commanders in Vietnam couldn’t ‘see the woods for the defoliated trees.’

  3. Pingback: Terror and terrain | geographical imaginations

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