The Way to Win a Guerrilla War
Hammes, T. X. (Washington Post staff)
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In all the barrels of ink being spilled in the argument over whether the United States can or can't possibly win the war against the insurgency in Iraq, one critical aspect is often overlooked: how the nature of insurgency has changed over the past few decades and what that means for the counterinsurgent. Insurgencies are still based on Mao Zedong's fundamental precept that superior political will, properly employed, can defeat greater economic and military power. Because insurgents organize to ensure political rather than military success, an opponent cannot defest then with military force alone. But complicating our problem today is the fact that insurgencies are no longer unified, hierarchical organizations that the Chinese, and later the Vietnamese, developed from the 1920's to the 1960's. Rather, they are loose coalitions unified only by the desire to drive out an outside power. All elements of the insurgency know that when the outside power is gone, they will fight a civil war to resolve their differences. Learning to adjust is the key to success in counterinsurgency. Conventional military weaknesses forces insurgents to be adaptable, so defeating them requires coherent, patient action - encompassing a range or political, economic, social and military activities--that can only be executed by a team drawn from all parts of government. You don't outfight the insurgent. You outgovern him.
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