More myths and fantasies seem to have arisen in regard to guerrilla warfare than about any other aspect of contemporary history. For many revolutionaries it has assumed a positively romantic aura, particularly since the bearded ones of the 26th of July Movement swept with dash and verve out of the Sierra Maestra and into the avenues of Havana. The sort of mythology that is created from the glories of guerrilla heroism (and that takes little account of the indescribable extremes of physical and moral endurance that it involves) is less harmful, however, than the fantasies that have been disseminated by the equally ardent advocates of counter-guerrilla warfare.
The late President John F. Kennedy reportedly had an obsession against guerrilla warfare, and the trickle of alarmed studies on the subject that had begun to appear in imperialist circles after Dienbienphu became a veritable flood during his administration. Subsidized by the Pentagon and the State Department, this literature has sought to provide both ideology and drum-beating for a suppressionist and interventionist American Foreign policy. Unlike conventional military studies, which at least deal in the ponderables of a science, this series of treatises on the arts of suppression bog themselves down in the myths of propaganda rather than base themselves on objective fact.
James Eliot Cross is one of the myth-makers of the Pentagon’s complex of ‘research’, ‘development’, and ‘analysis’ agencies, and he is reportedly ‘a leading authority on unconventional warfare’. For a real understanding of guerrilla strategy and tactics one must go to Vo Nguyen Giap, Truong Chinh, Che Guevara or to Mao Tse-Tung. Cross has other things on his mind.
Conflict In The Shadowsfootnote1 is subtitled ‘The nature and politics of guerrilla war’. Politics, to Cross, means only one thing: Communist subversion. In the American military mind, the problem of guerrilla warfare is a Communist problem:
‘There is no denying that the small but disciplined cadres of the