After America’s bitter experience in Vietnam and Europe’s colonial debacles in Asia, Africa, and the Arab world, most Westerners were sick and tired of hearing about asymmetrical warfare abroad. The global spread of cheap and technologically sophisticated weapons—and near-instant television and radio communications from the front—empowered the poor of the Third World to level the playing field.

The result of these advances was an increasingly affluent and leisured West, soured on fighting for empire or alongside dubious anti-communist allies. Such thankless struggles were not worth leaving thousands of suburban Americans and upscale Frenchmen rotting in places like the jungles of Vietnam. The horror of the two world wars, the postwar nuclear sword of Damocles, and a new therapeutic view about conflict and its resolution also conspired to turn public interest away from guerrilla wars.

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