David and Goliath -

On the Grammar of Guerrilla Warfare


© 2007 Gustav Adolf Pourroy  (published in Forum of New York Times)


It appears that President Bush and “No. 10” has not yet completely understood the Grammar of Guerrilla Warfare. Waging war by means of terror has become the main form of violent conflict in the 21st century. This takes the form of many small or guerrillas wars, but mainly it generates the impression of one single big war of Islam against the West. President Bush’s concept of a “War on Terror” to fend off the multiple terrorist acts does not appear to be successful. It is mere defence. The growth of the world population distributed in 190 states comprising about 1000 ethnic groups generates further conflicts, while the military strength of the Goliath states provokes the Davids of the world to try to win with the help of guerrilla stratagems.

In a guerrilla war the weak party is the aggressor. The guerrillero resorts to surprise, cunning, and audacity in order to overcome the strength of his big adversary. A guerrilla with such strategies is the war of the weak party against the strong one. It is the fight of David against Goliath.

The Davids make extensive use of tactics, namely cunning, surprise, and audacity. In fact those three tactics have been developed in many ways, facilitated by technical innovations. They all aim at putting pressure on the powerful party, for example by surprise (the high jacking of planes) or acting from a hidden place (like the Viet Kong in the jungle) in order to force it to give in, while the political goal is often not openly declared. A fourth tool has turned up, the strategy of terror. Terrorist acts aim at forcing the leaders of the Goliath states to give in by putting pressure on them with cruel actions which gain tremendous attention in the media.

Probably the U.S. declaration of “War on Terror” is just a propaganda tool serving to convince the public “that something is being done, that the state is not defenceless”. In fact this declaration is depressing proof that politicians do not understand the character of the guerrilla. Terror is a stratagem of guerrilleros. You cannot wage war against a stratagem. You can only answer with a counter stratagem. The use of the arms of the Goliath like aircraft carriers, planes, tanks, and masses of troops is futile. The use of such means, cleverly covered in the media, serves to calm down the public and to create the impression that something is done against terror. On the other hand it provokes the Davids to further attacks in order to demonstrate the helplessness of the Goliath. For the Goliath’s weapons to be effective, clear frontlines are indispensable. But in a guerrilla war there are no clear frontlines


If the Western nations can overcome the deficiencies of their policies, at least their position will become clear. Between war and politics there exists a correlation with its own grammar, inherent rules: If the structure of the political goals is not clearly defined in both the heads of the Goliaths as well as the Davids, then all the guerrilla wars will take an unhappy course, that is, it won’t serve any political aim.


There is undoubtedly some frustration in the Third World against the “so-called developed countries”. They believe they are merely being used as a source of raw material rather than as important partners in the world economy. The developed countries in their international corporations currently rule the global economy and seem to withhold the participation of the developing countries. As a first step, the major oil producing countries - mainly Islamic - could be invited to such gatherings as the G8 summit and similar institutions. This would signal an effective landmark towards peaceful co-operation progress.


At present the only identifiable political aim is the conservation of the status quo. But the inherent laws of war call for a creative will to reorganize the political relations. If on the other hand the aims of David are not clear or only achievable in his dreams while the Goliaths do not accept the help of a moderator and remain immovable for a long time, both sides are in a no win situation. This leads to permanent, chaotic warfare. Indeed, good reasons to leave Iraq. 4000 pairs of empty boots are enough

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