Must Counterinsurgency Wars Fail?

By Daniel Pipes, | Tuesday, September 09, 2008

When it comes to a state fighting a non-state enemy, the impression widely exists that the state is doomed to fail.

[..] The list of “unwinnable wars” goes on and includes, for example, the counterinsurgencies in Sri Lanka and Nepal. “Underlying all these analyses,” notes Yaakov Amidror, a retired Israeli major general, is the assumption “that counterinsurgency campaigns necessarily turn into protracted conflicts that will inevitably lose political support.”

Amidror, however, disagrees with this assessment. In a recent study published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Winning Counterinsurgency War: The Israeli Experience, he convincingly argues that states can beat non-state actors.

This debate has the greatest significance, for if the pessimists are right, Western powers are doomed to lose every current and future conflict not involving conventional forces (meaning planes, ships, and tanks). The future would look bleak, with the prospect of successful insurgencies around the world and even within the West itself. One can only shudder at the prospect of an Israeli-style intifada in, say, the United States. Coincidentally, news came from Australia last week of an Islamist group calling for a “forest jihad” of massive fires in that country.

Victory over insurgencies is possible, Amidror argues, but they do not come easily. Unlike the emphasis on size of forces and arsenals in traditional wars, he postulates four conditions of a mostly political nature required to defeat insurgencies. Two of them concern the state, where the national leadership must:

    * Understand and accept the political and public relations challenge involved in battling insurgents.
    * Appreciate the vital role of intelligence, invest in it, and require the military to use it effectively.

Another two conditions concern counterterrorist operations, which must:

    * Isolate terrorists from the non-terrorist civilian population.
    * Control and isolate the territories where terrorists live and fight.

If these guidelines are successfully followed, the result will not be a signing ceremony and a victory parade but something more subtle – what Amidror calls “sufficient victory” but I would call “sufficient control.” By this, he means a result “that does not produce many years of tranquility, but rather achieves only a ‘repressed quiet,’ requiring the investment of continuous effort to preserve it.” As examples, Amidror offers the British achievement in Northern Ireland and the Spanish one vis-à-vis the Basques. [..]

September 9, 2008 | 2 Comments »

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  1. When Lucifer was convinced he should have God’s Power for himself, he became filled with pride and had to be separated from God and be given time to prove that he could do better than Holiness, Righteousness and Truth. The unwinable war that ALL of us face is fighting against the Lord, the God of Israel – you can truly CHOOSE to either follow what God said or not – and, some principles are destined to be Eternal and some temporary – there is nothing GOOD about rebelling against the Creator’s will. We are ALL caught in a battle between the Holy One of Israel and the unholy one cast out of Heaven. Our time on earth is short and each one of us has to make a personal decision on where we truly stand in our heart of hearts. Sometimes we sin and make mistakes, but the markings of God’s heroes is that we see the negative consequences of disobeying God’s Will and the suffering and misery produced by following other gods or following another path away from Him – some people will get it, and some people won’t get it. THE BOTTOM LINE is that Satan created all the world’s religions because he HATES God and the signature of HATRED towards the God of Israel is expressed in the rebellion and pride of every religion causing either HATE FILLED DIVISION or godless, empty UNITY which can be just as evil as divisions – but God didn’t come to bring peace on earth – but division – to show which of us has God’s approval. This isn’t to say that people who follow OTHER religions or gods can’t do God’s Will or have the ability to understand God’s Will – it’s the people who become aware of His Will and make choices to either accept or reject His Will, experiencing the consequences. ISLAM IS A NEGATIVE CHOICE AND A NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE with no good end. Islam is Satan’s religion, just as much as Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Scientology, Paganism, and almost every religion one can come up with – there you will find the devil’s umbrella of: ALL RELIGIONS LEAD TO THE SAME god. “Little g.” Evil can only be conquered with good, but sometimes THE GREATER GOOD requires greater or equal force – thus WAR – until JUSTICE FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF ALL HUMANITY LEADS US BACK TO THE HOLY ONE, whom we’ve ALL forsaken by our personal or global sins. Salvation, not condemnation is THE GOAL. But I support all of our brave FIGHTING HEROES who have the toughest job next to motherhood & fatherhood there is – and ALL OF OUR AMERICAN AND ISRAELI intelligence services have my full prayer support for THE GREATER GOOD!

  2. The only counterinsurgencies I’m familiar with are Vietnam (1958-75) and the American Indian wars. The latter were won my the US, the former lost. In the American Indian wars, the Indians were divided into autonomous tribes. One tribe would fight against the US government, and others would support the government. Eventually, the tribes sued for peace, one after the other, and the insurgency COMPLETELY ended. Today, there are no Native Americans actively engaged in guerilla warfare against the US government. Even the Seminoles, who never contracted a peace agreement with us, are at peace.

    In Vietnam, we did not fight the enemy one tribe at a time. The French had pretty much destroyed the tribal system, and we were left with a “class warfare”. Where tribes or quasi-tribes existed (such as the Catholics), we had some success, but the bulk of the Vietnamese were essentially one big tribe.

    Iraq is very tribal, as are most Moslem countries — as well as the Moslem parts of Israel. It is possible to defeat these people by playing one tribe against another (as we did in Iraq); but we cannot win if we try to distinguish “good” members of a particular tribe from “bad” members: The entire tribe must be our friend, or our enemy; and the family heads heed to be held accountable.

    That’s the way to win. Go to it.