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Monday, June 27, 2005

Revisiting core assumption #1.

A little less than two weeks ago I compiled a post about why the liberals of the UPC and I differ on Iraq. Click here for the whole thing, which is pretty interesting: Today's post is about how I was wrong about core assumption #1. The relevant excerpt from the link above:

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The original underlying assumption has been bolded. My reply is in italics. Fester's reply to my reply is not italicized, and my reply to that has been italicized. And you know- we can keep this going... I can update. So please comment.

  • 1. THIS IS A GUERILLA WAR with all of the intricacies that implies
  • 1. Disagree... I'd like to know how you define a guerilla war and how Iraq fits the definition
  • 1) Guerilla War --- a war composed of small unit, hit and run tactics with at least one side able to fade into and out of the civilian population where the aim of the guerillas is not to defeat main force units of their enemy but to inflict sufficient attrition and system destabilization so as to make an occupation too costly and not worthwhile --- can evolve into main force v. main force but does not need to.
  • 1. The traditional model of a guerilla war doesn't work because 1. Iraq is a democracy 2. Most of the effective fighters are foreigners. 3. They aren't trying to recruit the general population. They are pissing them off.


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The Belmont Club helped me see the light. Click here to read the whole thing, for it is good. The relevant excerpt:

Political influence, combat capability and territorial control are the real metrics of a successful guerilla campaign. The argument that mere existence or avoidance of defeat constitutes victory is hogwash: both the IRA and the Red Hand Commandos exist, but clearly the IRA is the more successful guerilla organization because it has a national united front, some combat capability and hard and diverse leadership core where the Red Hand Commandos do not. Even Al Qaeda, which some claim to be a creature of pure thought has sought to control territory in
Afghanistan and spread its influence through Islamic "charities" while under the control of a central group of militants. It was, in other words, no different from any other classic guerilla organization. While the Iraqi insurgents still retain the capability to kill significant numbers of people they are almost total losers by the traditional metric of guerilla warfare. First of all, by attacking civilians of every ethnic group and vowing to resubjugate the majority ethnic groups in the country they have at a stroke made creating a national united front against the United States a near impossibility.

My mistake was thinking it was not a guerilla war because the insurgents weren't doing what they would need to do to WIN a guerilla war. Pretty foolish, actually, since that logic would mean nobody was ever trying to do anything if they went about it wrong. This is sort of a reverse-pyrrhic concession. I've said all along that we are beating the insurgency in Iraq, and Wretchard (writer of the Belmont Club) has shown that we are winning by any traditional, measurable standard. A few more mistakes like this would be wonderful.

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