From the American Revolution to World War II, to Syria and Afghanistan today, armies have contended with "irregulars" -- fighters who conceal themselves among the citizen population and launch "hit-and-run" attacks on their targets, according to Van Gosse, a professor of history at Franklin & Marshall College.
Gosse has created a seminar-style course for F&M students and public lecture series to delve into the history and politics of these tactics. "Irregular War: Guerrillas, Partisans, Bandits, and Mujahedeen" examines the history, theory, and practice of guerilla warfare and counter-insurgency throughout the modern era.
"My hope is that the series will raise the level of public awareness and argument over warfare today, which is almost wholly some version of 'irregular war,' whether in Afghanistan, Syria, Israel and Palestine, or all the other places where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and drones have become dominant forms of waging war," Gosse said.
Four speakers, all of whom will engage in classroom discussions with Gosse's students, also will deliver public talks on the F&M campus in a sequence that begins with the Cold War and ends with the conflicts of today:
Cold War historian, author and New York University professor Marilyn B. Young sets the stage with a talk titled "Necessary Wars of Choice: An Account of the Cold War as War, From Korea to Present" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, in the Lisa Bonchek Adams Auditorium in Kauffman Hall.
Mary L. Dudziak, a noted legal historian and professor at Emory Law School, will discuss the moral and historical implications of war in a talk titled "War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences" at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 in Lisa Bonchek Adams Auditorium in Kauffman Hall.
Nick Turse, author of "Kill Everything That Moves," will discuss "Where Have All the War Crimes Gone?: Vietnam War Atrocities and How They Were Covered-Up" at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4 in Stahr Auditorium in Stager Hall.
Col. Gian Gentile of the United States Military Academy at West Point will close the series with a lecture titled "Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency," at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 11 in Stahr Auditorium in Stager Hall.
As part of their coursework, the 15 upper-class students will read the latest books by Young, Dudziak and Turse, Gosse said.
"The students will get to have a very intimate and serious engagement with the speakers and hear them in public," Gosse said. "What I hope is that this will give them a sense of what it means to write a book, and how to present an argument."