U.S. Post- conflict integration policy of militias in Iraq
Smith, James J.
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This thesis aims to examine what effect the United States policy towards militias in Iraq has on the security, stability and troop levels. Conventional wisdom regarding the imperative to eliminate militias in Iraq rests upon the correct observation that the state is locked in a struggle over the legitimate use of force, and therefore over power and authority, with the militias, but fails to appreciate that the militia may have more popular legitimacy than the state. Recognizing this calls for a reconsideration of policy responses to the militia phenomenon. This thesis will argue that while military defeat is tactically feasible, it is unlikely to lead to strategic success because the militias have established popular legitimacy and military attacks by an occupying power are only likely to increase it. For similar reasons, engagement of the militia is likely to be more efficacious. The thesis will use two case studies to investigate which policy might work best for Security, Stability, Transition and Reconstruction operations in Iraq. A comparison is adopted to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of defeat and engagement as alternative military strategies employ by an occupying power vis-aÌ -vis indigenous militia forces in the Middle East. The first case study is the United States occupation of Iraq from 2003 to 2007. The second case study is the British occupation of Palestine from 1920 to 1948. The thesis will conclude with an analysis of similarities between each case, potential policy prescription for the U.S., avenues for future research and some comments on the semantics of words.
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