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Thread: Comment on THE INSURGENTS by Fred Kaplan

  1. #1
    Council Member
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    Feb 2007
    Rancho La Espada, Blanchard, OK

    Default Comment on THE INSURGENTS by Fred Kaplan

    I would have saved this for a review but I was alerted some critical errors in the book by Ambassador Ed Corr who has long been a part of the SWORD Model research project begun by my colleague Max Manwaring. On pp 157 and 158 of the book, Kaplan discusses Max's influence on the development of FM 3-24 with regard to the concept of Legitimacy. But first Kaplan errs when he says that Max served in Special Forces in El Salvador. Max was always a MI officer and in 1986 he served as Deputy Director of the Small Wars Operations Research Directorate (SWORD) of USSOUTHCOM. In that capacity, then COL Manwaring was leading and conducting research on the war in El Salvador that refined the SWORD Model.
    In discussing Legitimacy, Kaplan states, "But Manwaring had imposed a Western definition of legitimacy, involving democratic governance, rule of law, and a pluralistic society." (p. 158) As Max and I stated in our article, "The SWORD Model of Counterinsurgency" published here in the[I] Small Wars Journal [[I][I] in December 2008, the most important variables making up the Legitimacy dimension (statistically powerful Factor Loadings) were: (1) the perceived domestic support of the host government, (2) the perception on the part of the population that the host government was corrupt, (3) the host government's ability to motivate the people (which was operationalized as its ability to effectively deliver government services), and (4) that the settling of political conflict by violence was not the norm. As can be seen easily, these are not culture bound concepts and apply to any culture or society. None of them require democratic governance, the rule of law, or a pluralistic society although they may be more easily achieved in that kind of society. Let me simply point out that non-democratic Saudi Arabia would appear to rank quite high on all four variables.
    Last, Kaplan states that Max's research had showed Legitimacy (of the host government) to be the most significant factor in the outcome of an insurgency. This statement is simply wrong and our article demonstrates that fact. Legitimacy had a Probit score of 2.32 and was significant at the ,025 level while Support Actions of the Intervening Power had a Probit score of 2.56 and was significant at the .01 level. What this actually means is that Legitimacy was the second most powerful dimension affecting success in a COIN.
    I hope that these errors are the worst that Kaplan makes. We (Ambassador Corr who was US Ambassador to El Salvador at the time we are discussing, and I) will let you know when we finish our review of Kaplan's book.



  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    Default Spinning Modern War: The First Draft of Counterinsurgency’s History

    A "snakes & ladders' review on Kings of War of Kaplan's book:

  3. #3
    Council Member TheCurmudgeon's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    Woodbridge, VA

    Default Confused?

    What is "Support Actions of the Intervening Power "?

    I am apt to disagree with you, and I am going back to read the original article, but I think you has misunderstood what legitimacy is.
    "I can change almost anything ... but I can't change human nature."

    Jon Osterman/Dr. Manhattan

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