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The Tactics of Michael Collins - Essay Example

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While the European continent was flooded with the blood of trench-warfare, the Irish were fighting a far more subtle war of wits. This paper will address the military role of Michael Collins, his tactics in the context of later revolutionaries' and lastly discuss whether we should regard his contribution to the conflict as that of a villain or a patriot.
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The Tactics of Michael Collins

Download file to see previous pages... 97-98). However, Collins also knew that "something more was necessary than a guerrilla war in which small bands of our warriors [] attacked the larger forces of the enemy" because "England could always reinforce her army" (Dwyer, 1990, p. 64). The tactic that arguably won the war was Collins implementation of the Squad which, together with his extensive intelligence network, was able to systematically assassinate British agents and thus cut of Britain's main supply of information. Both of these tactics resurfaced several times throughout the twentieth century, most notable in the teachings of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara and Brazilian revolutionary Carlos Marighella, but the question remains as to whom Michael Collins had the strongest link.
Guevara was, like Collins, involved in a fight on a largely rural island, and often stressed the importance of taking up the fighting outside the city (Guevara, 1961, pp. 1-2). Even though both relied heavily upon the tactics of the Flying Column, there was a significant difference: whereas Collins guerrilla force only existed in the attack, Guevara had an actual army that could gain territory and form lines of resistance. Furthermore, Guevara actually had a chance to win his war through military means, unlike Collins and his ever-reinforced enemy. Collins idea of carefully selected executions was not unknown to Guevara, but it was in no way a key issue in his tactics.
Marighella was facing an entirely different scenario, and thus devised new tactics to suit his needs. Fighting in heavy industrialized Brazil, he regarded the urban areas as the birthplace and battlefield of the guerrilla force (Marighella, 1969, p. 12). Like both of the others he subscribed to idea of the Flying Column, but unlike Guevara it was an autonomous unit, leaping only into existence when call upon (Marighella, 1969, p. 4). Marighella had no prospects of a traditional military victory, and like Collins he relied on the hidden warfare of surprise attacks, kidnapping and executions (Asprey, 1994, p.1089-90).
To choose which of these later models is more consistent with Collins' is obviously to choose the lesser of two evils. Guevara fought an entirely different enemy, but used the Flying Column with great success. Marighella again fought a different foe and implemented Collins' idea of selective executions, but with less success. It seems that Marighella has the most to share with Collins. Although he lost his war, he took the most important part of Collins' tactics and attempted to put it into practice. Guevara merely adopted the foundational idea of small-unit fighting; a concept far predating Michael Collins.

The answer as to whether Michael Collins should be regarded as villain or patriot is to some extent answered in the final sentence of Fidel Castro's defense speech of 1953; "History will absolve me". An attempt to define any reformer as good or bad will always be biased by the outcome of the conflict and our own political stance. However, technically Collins was a patriot by the very definition of the word: he fought for (the majority of) his country. The fact that he won Ireland her ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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