Our world today is still feeling the after shocks of the fall of communism in the Soviet Union along many of its partners in the former Warsaw Pact. There are still leaders in some nations that believe that they can act unchecked by the international community and pursue their goals that for so long have been kept silent under the strong hand Communism. There goals often lead to limited war, guerrilla warfare and civil war that decimate the local populations and wreak havoc on their country's economic system. These kinds of wars have been common place all over our globe in that past forty years. By studying the aspects of limited and Guerrilla warfare one can easily see the differences between the two.
In the period after World War II limited war has been seen in many nations. "A limited war is a war fought for limited political purposes" (Spanier pg. 365.) These wars are often fought due to a nations belief that by obtaining more territory their country will be better off economically and more secure. Limited war is not a new form of warfare. Clausewitz believed that the many wars that took place in the eighteenth century were limited because the instigators were careful not to risk their own kingdoms. According to Spanier most limited wars have the following characteristics; the victor's restraint and the opponent's survival, noninvolvement of major powers, geographical restraints and non-use of nuclear weapons.
In modern times, a good example of a limited war is the Korean conflict. By attacking the South, the North Koreans posed a real threat to stability in Asia. With the entire Korean peninsula under Communist control, Japan would have been in a precarious position. "The United States needed Japan as an ally" (Spanier pg. 365) due to its forces stationed on the island. By isolating themselves between World War I and II, the United States had not acted to stop aggression and the axis powers made their moves without strong opposition from the international community. To prevent the so called "Domino effect" the United States along with United Nations intervened on behalf of the South Koreans. The goal of the United States was to preserve an autonomous South Korea, not to destroy and occupy North Korea. This limited war was fought with the goal always in mind, because in the age of nuclear weapons an escalation to total war could end with the total destruction of the planet.
Guerrilla warfare is basically a revolutionary war fought by a small group of rebels from inside a country to overthrow the current government. These wars start small with the guerrilla's always on the move, striking at the enemy with the intention of slowly breaking their governments resolve. By using hit and run tactics they are able to weaken their enemy by inflicting casualties and confusion among them while using their small numbers to evade being attacked directly. They are able to dictate where they will fight their battles, choosing locations and conditions that will most likely insure success. This kind of warfare slowly saps the will to fight from the enemy. Soldiers start getting tired of the harassment inflicted on them by the smaller guerrilla force "and loses its offensive spirit as it finds its conventional tactics useless" (Spanier pg. 370.)
The guerrilla’s ability to gain the populations support plays a major role in achieving victory over the larger force. Because they are primarily cut off from the cities, the guerrilla’s have to rely on the local population for support. They attempt to gain their support by inserting in small cities and villages guerrilla leaders who work to inspire sympathy and support for their cause. They attempt to alienate the citizens from their government by showing them that the government has lost the means to protect them. They often do this by destroying entire villages and killing its government officials. By riding the villages of government officials they restrict "the government's authority largely to the cities" (Spanier pg. 371.) To be successful the guerrilla’s must also turn popular support in their favor. They do this by playing on the social problems of the citizens. The guerrilla’s will often present themselves as the champion of the peoples social problems, fighting to make things better, thus gaining their support. Guerrilla warfare is one of the most hideous kinds of warfare, because the guerrilla’s use the local population to attain victory. By doing so, the citizens of small villages feel the brunt of the war with many of them losing their livelihood and often their lives.
Limited and Guerrilla wars differ from one another in many aspects. As mentioned above these include the causes, goals, method of fighting, length of conflict and effect on the population. Although Spanier only briefly touches on the subject of civil war, it is a harsh reality in our world today. With the end of World War II came the end of colonial administrations in many third world countries. This end of colonialism left many of these former colonies under the control of unstable governments consisting of ethnically diverse populations. Civil war has played a major role in the history of civilization but the most recent ones have seen the intervention of outside nations.
The war in the former Yugoslavia was the result of the disintegration of federal authority and the attempt of the republics to gain greater power inside the country. Under Tito's rule, ethnic tensions were kept under control through the distribution of power between the different ethnic groups. Slobodan Miloshevich, President of the Serbian Republic, called for the creation of a Greater Serbian Republic with the purpose of uniting all Serbs into a single state. He spent four years trying to force his ideas on the rest of Yugoslavia, until Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence on 25 June 1991. Bosnia-Herzegovina believed that Macedonia was about to declare its independence and declared its own. This is when the war escalated.
The war in the former Yugoslavia, if evaluated using Spanier's definition, cannot be categorized as a limited war although it does manifest some of the characteristics of a limited war. The fact that Serbia has set limits, the establishment of a Greater Serbian Republic, makes me want to believe that this is a limited war. There are other factors that lead me to believe that this is a civil war. The six republics have been united over different periods throughout history and from 1945 until 1990 were united under the same flag with each republic sharing some form of power. The quest for more power after Tito’s death led to this horrible civil war. The United States civil war erupted on about the same lines. The southerners wanted more power, they wanted to have the same number of slave states as the north had free. I believe that the war in the former Yugoslavia should be categorized as a civil war.