Forum: Rules of Engagement

Four experts explore when combat becomes a massacre--especially in a guerrilla war--and who shares the blame

PHILIP CAPUTO

Incidents like this are not just likely; they're inevitable in insurgencies. They happened in Vietnam and even to the British, who committed atrocities during the American Revolution. They happen because one of the things an insurgent does is attack the counterinsurgent's state of mind. The insurgent makes the counterinsurgent feel constantly insecure, constantly scared and constantly unaware of who or where the enemy is. The guy fighting the insurgent often feels lost in a hostile sea.

One of the reasons I wrote the Vietnam memoir A Rumor of War was to show how that kind of war can bring out...

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