Insurgencies are difficult to generalize. Most are specific and chaotic, inseparable from their historical context, and refuse to be neatly compartmentalized into good guys and bad guys. Algeria was a particularly brutal war, and Horne does not back away from the grisly details. An account which he quotes from Jean-Jaques Servan-Schrieber's book Lieutenant en Algerie (1957), echos the frustrations of regular soldiers who cannot tell friend from foe. An old campaigner here tells a fresh-faced captain about the realities of discriminating civilians from combatants:
|1960 Algerian Independence Demonstration|
Such sentiments are how insurgencies are won militarily and lost politically. This brutal calculus of counterinsurgency exposes the attitude of distrust which creeps into the soldier's psyche when any passerby may be a potential killer. This is one common thread to insurgencies: they are an extremely difficult psychological task for the soldiers that fight them.