Three years into the continuing rebellion of Great Britain's North American colonies, public and parliamentary criticism of efforts to suppress the insurgency is mounting. FP spoke with General Sir Richard Featherweight, chief counterinsurgency adviser for Britain's North American Security Assistance Force (NOSAF), regarding the state of the conflict:
FP: My Lord, critics argue that the British counterinsurgency campaign in America is foundering. Do you concur?
General Featherweight: Good Sir, this is an absolute falsehood. With the support of our Hessian coalition partners, we have almost broken the insurgency. The army of General Washington...pardon, the so-called army of the so-called General Washington...has been driven into the mountains of the province of Pennsylvania, far from the cities and farms along the coast. His army is depleted, and we are successfully interdicting his supplies and reinforcements. Insurgent strength is melting like snow in June. Mark my words, Sir. By next year, King George III will be able to proclaim "mission accomplished."
FP: But it is now 1779, and hadn't NOSAF assured the British public that the American insurgency would be broken by 1776?
Gen. F: My good fellow, counterinsurgency takes time. One must beware of those peddling quick panaceas like some patent medicine merchant in London. It is true that due to totally unforeseeable circumstances, our security and stabilization efforts have taken longer than expected. But I must protest the negative bias of those in Parliament and the press who are ignoring the immense progress we have made. I am sure you have seen the latest PowerPoints. Tarring and feathering of Loyalist Americans is down 37 percent over last year. Attacks on Coalition supply wagons are down 26 percent. And, reports of Americans singing "Yankee Doodle" have decreased 19 percent. If that last fact alone does not convince you, Sir, I fail to see what will.
FP: My Lord, you maintain that the American insurgents have no popular support. But doesn't the fact that the insurgency continues suggest otherwise?
Gen. F: Rubbish! Our polls show that the vast majority of the American people yearn for the benevolent rule of King George III. They have no desire to live under the oppressive rule of the Continental Congress, or terrorists and criminals like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. It is only due to the pernicious influx of foreign fighters and supplies that the conflict continues.
FP: You mean the French?
Gen. F: I will not identify those outside powers that are responsible for the instability in North America. However, the British government is well aware of who they are and is taking steps to address the problem. We believe the American people reject these meddlers and agitators, and welcome the sovereignty of Great Britain.
FP: There have been reports of a sharp split within the British command over how best to conduct counterinsurgency in America.
Gen. F: I would hardly characterize it as a split. It is more an honorable difference of opinion between those who favor winning the hearts and minds of Americans, versus those who believe a more forceful response is needed. I would say that we have successfully used elements of both strategies. The British Army has kept Washington's army away from strategic areas, which can then experience the benefit of imperial rule without fear of coercion and intimidation by the insurgents.
FP: However, it would appear that the more forceful approach has won out. General Sir Henry Clinton [Combatant Commander for North American Command, or NOCOM] has requested an additional 50,000 British soldiers for what he terms a "surge." Some members of Parliament worry that this would strain Britain's military and financial resources.
Gen. F: I think that we can all agree with King George that Americans have a right to the benefits of monarchical rule. At such a time, it seems unpatriotic to quibble over the expenditure of mere treasure, like some shopkeeper clucking over his accounts. However, as General Clinton has testified, the surge is a temporary measure that will enable us to secure more territory, deprive the insurgents of supplies and sanctuaries, and strengthen colonial authorities until they can assume local security functions.