View Poll Results: Do you agree that the insurgency has ended, although the war continues?

30. You may not vote on this poll
  • Yes, it is no longer an insurgency.

    7 23.33%
  • No, it is still an insurgency.

    23 76.67%
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Thread: Good news -- the insurgency is over! Now we need a new strategy for the Iraq War.

  1. #201
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default Great questions; here are some answers...

    ...not as good as the questions, unfortunately.

    The two articles I posted on this thread (March 13, Jan 27) discuss these complex questions in detail. Here are highlights.

    I try not to reinvent the wheel. Experts have a well-developed literature on what makes a government real. Conceptually it is legitimacy. Practically it means how many attributes it possesses. Excerpt from the March report:

    The more of these they possess, the stronger and more durable they are. The most important attributes:

    Control of armed forces, or even monopoly of armed force in its borders.
    The ability to levy and collect taxes.
    An administrative mechanism to execute its policies.
    Territory in which it is the dominant political entity.
    Control of borders.
    Legitimacy (not love) in the eyes of its people.

    The national “government” of Iraq has, by most reports, none of these. It lives on oil revenue and US funding. Its ministries are controlled by ethnic and religious groups, parceled out as patronage and run for their “owners” benefit. The only territory it controls is the Green Zone, by the grace of the Coalition’s armed forces. Coalition forces and other foreigners are beyond its control. Coalition forces make critical decisions without its consent, often without even consulting it.

    Both articles described how real governments are evolving at the regional and local levels. That's what "Iraq is fragmenting" means.

    As for outside influences, the major foreign influence in Iraq is us (media reports often confuse this, writing as if we are Iraq forces). My latest article discusses our role in some detail. Iran, although public sources are inadequate to determine how large a role. Syria and Turkey. The others seem to have a marginal role: NGO's, UN, Kurds in Turkey and Iran, EU, Russia, China, etc. Any of this could rapidly change, of course.

    The major wild cards are the Sunni Arab States. To what extent have they helped their brothers in Iraq? Since late 2003 I've written that the extent of insurgent air defenses is the key metric of their external support. From my 27 May 2007 article:

    In four years of intense fighting the Sunni Arabs have been unable to obtain any substantial anti-air capability. This shows limited ability to beg, borrow, or steal funds – and also proves that they receive little aid from their brothers in neighboring states, despite claims of the Bush Administration. A serious anti-air capability might not prove decisive against the US, but would have improved their terms of engagement. US forces would either continue as is with greatly increased casualties, or adopt far less aggressive tactics.

  2. #202
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2006

    Default I forgot to mention -- this analysis follows FM 3-24

    I should have mentioned this in the earlier post.

    Those of you familiar with counterinsurgency theory will recognize this is not an original analysis. It is both conventional and within the framework of FM 3-24. Here are a few brief excerpts showing this.

    1. WWII as a bright line dividing insurgencies.

    “The modern era of insurgencies and internal wars began after World War II.” (1-19)

    “Clausewitz thought that wars by an armed populace could only serve as a strategic defense; however, theorists after World War II realized that insurgency could be a decisive form of warfare. This era spawned the Maoist, Che Guevara-type focoist, and urban approaches to insurgency.” (1-20)

    More specifically, FM 3-34 notes the key role of Mao in bringing 4GW theory to maturity, although never using the term 4GW. See the extended discussion of Mao in 1-30 through 1-39, and the use throughout of Mao’s terms and concepts.

    For example, Mao’s emphasis on political over military factors is rigorously adhered to – although attributed to Mao only in 1-123.

    2. The key distinction between civil wars and wars of national liberation.

    This distinction is frequently noted, although often not followed up in the analysis or recommendations. For example: “The exception to this pattern of internal war involves resistance movements, where indigenous elements seek to expel or overthrow what they perceive to be a foreign or occupation government.” (1-6).

    An analysis of FM 3-24 treatment of these two kinds of insurgencies is beyond the scope of a brief note like this, but I point you also to 1-135, 1-147, and esp. 2-11. This contradiction is never addressed.


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