Crossroads of Intervention
Insurgency and Counterinsurgency Lessons from Central America
Much can be learned today about the nature of irregular warfare, the author argues, from the experiences of the United States and the other protagonists in Central America during the final decade of the Cold War. This strategy and policy analysis examines the origins, dynamics, and termination of the Sandinista insurrection in Nicaragua, the Salvadoran government’s decade-long counterinsurgency against the FMLN guerrillas, and the Contra insurgency against the Sandinistas. Todd Greentree establishes the historical, political, and conceptual relationship between U.S. involvement in the Central American wars, the Vietnam War, and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then develops a general analytical framework for understanding the fundamental and recurring nature of insurgency, counterinsurgency, and intervention. Greentree cites U.S. involvement in Central America during the 1980s as clearly demonstrating the costs, risks, and limits to intervention and the use of force in internal conflicts and warns that the consequences of such involvement must not be forgotten.