When Operation Banner was launched in 1969 civil war threatened to break out in Northern Ireland and spread over the Irish Sea. Uncivil War reveals the full story of how the British army acted to save Great Britain from disaster during the most violent phase of the Troubles but, in so doing, condemned the people of Northern Ireland to protracted, grinding conflict. Huw Bennett shows how the army’s ambivalent response to loyalist violence undermined the prospects for peace and heightened Catholic distrust in the state. British strategy consistently underestimated community defence as a reason for people joining or supporting the IRA whilst senior commanders allowed the army to turn in on itself, hardening soldiers to the suffering of ordinary people. By 1975 military strategists considered the conflict unresolvable: the army could not convince Catholics or Protestants that it was there to protect them and settled instead for an unending war.

Speaker biography:

Huw Bennett is Reader in International Relations at Cardiff University, where he teaches intelligence and strategic studies. He was educated at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and previously taught at Aberystwyth and for King’s College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. He is the author of Fighting the Mau Mau: The British Army and Counter-Insurgency in the Kenya Emergency (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and articles and chapters on Malaya, Kenya, Aden, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, with an emphasis on civil-military relations and the impact of war on civilians. Uncivil War: The British Army and the Troubles, 1966-1975, was published by Cambridge in October 2023 and was written with the aid of fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust and the British Academy.

The Military History Working Group brings together Cambridge-based scholars working on the history of war and the military to discuss each other’s work and approaches. Convened by Eamonn O’Keeffe, the National Army Museum Junior Research Fellow at Queens’ College, it is ecumenical in terms of chronology, discipline, and scope.

The group encourages papers and participation from students, early career researchers, and faculty members. Members of the public are also welcome; please write to Eamonn O’Keeffe (ewo21@cam.ac.uk) to indicate your interest in attending.


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Global Germany

Monday 10th June, 2024

Global Germany


Geopolitical risk analysis study group

History, Law

Ancient Geopolitics: Ancient law for modern politics