Morning Joe | January 28, 2013
>>> usually have the democratic hour of power here on " morning joe ."
>> oh, my lord.
>> one democrat after another, but this morning, mika, it is the council on foreign relations hour.
>> yes, it is, cfr day. let's proclaim it.
>> watch " morning joe ." richard haass , look who's here!
>> fantastic, he is the senior fellow of national security sudden study at the council on foreign relations . i almost got that job but he beat me out.
>> i hate when that happens.
>> i wonder how that happens. the market worked.
>> the author of the new book," invisible armies," a history of guerrilla warfare from ancient times to the present." this looks fascinating.
>> why did you decide to write the book now?
>> i spent the last decade writing about and covering the wars going on in iraq and afghanistan , and i got interested in trying to see the bigger historical picture. what was different? what was new? how to place in context the kind of wars that we've been engaged in in the past decade, and that's what took me on this six-year historical odyssey going back 5,000 years of history to truly see the big picture .
>> i mean, this is the world in which we live now. i was shocked even back in 1991 when saddam hussein was stupid enough to march his tanks out in the open and allow us -- nobody's going to be stupid enough to take us on in a european style tank war.
>> right. except that the military keeps hoping. they want to prepare for a conventional war because they don't want to do the other kind. they keep hoping that somebody will stick a big tank army out there in the desert with a big hit me sign on it so we can wipe them out.
>> that guy actually was hanged in iraq, and it's not going to happen.
>> it's not a smart strategy.
>> that's why he's no longer with us. what did you learn from this book? what's the big idea that you want everybody in the pentagon to know about what you learned?
>> well, there's a bunch, but the biggest one is simply how ubiquitous an old-old guerrilla warfare actually is. this is not something new. this is not a passing fad. this is not something that's going to go away when we leave afghanistan .
>> give us historical context. what was the first example of guerrilla warfare ?
>> glad you asked because the first guerrilla wars are as old as man did kind. tribal warfare is essentially guerrilla warfare . tribes don't have uniforms. they fight with ambush-type tactics. this type of warfare has been going on as long as we've been on this earth. conventional warfare is a relatively recent and relatively rare invention. and here's a good question for you, joe. what was the last conventional war the world has seen? it's a hard one to get. i had to look this up. the last conventional war was in 2008 when georgia was invaded by russia. it lasted a few weeks. so there have been almost no conventional wars around the world, and yet thousands of people are dying in places like afghanistan , syria, libya, somalia, mali , algeria, all of these places in wars without front lines, without uniforms, without conventional militaries. those are the kind of conflicts i write about. and the big message is, there's nothing new about this. we should be used to it by now because this is the way it's always been.
>> max, you said the french go into mali , they're going to build up to 2,500 troops. the united states is going to have to deal with these things. how well situated are modern democracies to fight guerrilla -- to fight these wars?
>> well, modern democracies face certain handicaps because of the growing power of the media and of democracy. and so if a war becomes unpopular at home, it's hard to sustain abroad. that wasn't something the roman empire had to worry about. it's something that modern france and the united states have to worry about. so my biggest concern about the french in mali is are they going to have the staying power ? because sending a few hundred or a few thousand troops into mali and pushing back some of the militants for a few weeks is fine. but they're going to come back. and the reality is, one of the points in the new book is that the average insurgency since 1945 has lasted almost ten years. so you better be ready for the long haul. and if you're not, you're not going to win.
>> max, what does your research tell us about afghanistan ?
>> i don't have a crystal ball , and i think there are reasons for concerns. i think we have made progress. again, back to richard's point, the question is are we going to have staying power ? if we have something like 20,000 troops serving as advisers and as special operations forces after 2014 , i think there's a reasonable chance of a decent outcome defined as a self-sustaining afghanistan . but if we're going to pull almost all of our troops out or all of our troops, then i think that the danger of civil war goes up, the danger afghan security forces collapsing, it goes up. so you'd better be ready for the long haul.
>> you think ten years is a long haul enough?
>> unfortunately in this kind of conflict, it may not be because the other side has sanctuaries in pakistan, and that's often been the biggest determiner of success or failures.
>> the book is "vinvisible armies," max boot , great to have you.
>> we'll switch jobs for a week like "freaky friday."
>> you can write the next 700-page book. i'd be happy to have that off my plate.
>> i'm sure you'll make deadline.
>>> up next, liverpool loses to oldham? is that possible? does that happen? what's going on here?
>> don't even ask. mojo football frenzy is next with roger bennett . and also more talk about paul krugman . a hybrid?