View Full Version : Counterinsurgency warfare--military malpractice?

02-02-2007, 03:39 PM
[Came across this essay by Edward Luttwak, the article is available in the print edition of Harper's, but not online. Excerpts are below for reading and commentary.]:

"Dead End: Counterinsurgency warfare as military malpractice"

Luttwak reviews a new US "counterinsurgency" manual being prepared by two US generals, James N. Nattis of the Marines and David H. Petraeus of the Army. The manual is titled "FM 3-24DRAFT".

Luttwak asserts that the Iraqis will never believe that foreigners are unselfishly expending blood and treasure in order to help them. He also states that "faced with superior firepower, insurgents strive to be elusive and to disappear into the civilian population". He also asserts that "the essentially political advantage of the insurgents cannot be overcome by merely technical means".

He also gives two historical examples of how insurgencies were suppressed:

"...the Romans knew how to combine sticks and carrots to obtain obedience and suppress insurgencies. Conquered peoples too proud to accept the benefits of their rule, from public baths and free circus shows to reliable courts, were 'de-bellicized' (a very Roman idea). It was done by killing all who dared to resist in arms--it made good combat practice for the legions--by selling into slavery any who were captured in battle, by leveling towns that held out under siege instead of promptly surrendering, and by readily accepting as peaceful subjects and future citizens all who submitted to Roman rule....A few tribes and nations had to be reconquered after trying and failing to overthrow Roman rule. A few simply refused to become obedient, and so they were killed off. 'They make a wasteland and call it peace', was the bitter complaint of a Scottish chieftain (as reported by Tacitus)."

"Terrible reprisals to deter any form of resistance were standard operating procedures for the German armed forces of the Second World War, and very effective they were in containing resistance with very few troops. As against all the dramatic films and books that describe the heroic achievements of the resistance all over occupied Europe, military historians have documented the tranquillity that the German occupiers mostly enjoyed, and the normality of collaboration, not merely by notorious traitors such as the incautious French poet or the failed Norwegian politician but by vast numbers of ordinary people. Polish railwaymen, for example, secured the entire sustenance of the German eastern front. As for the daring resistance attacks that feature in films, they did happen occasionally, but not often, and not because of any lack of bravery in fighting the routinely formidable Germans but because of the terrible punishments they inflicted on the population."

"Occupiers can thus be successful without need of any specialized counterinsurgency methods or tactics if they are willing to out-terrorize the insurgents, so that the fear of reprisals outweighs the desire to help the insurgents or their threats..."

"Likewise in the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese were skilled in using terror to secure their pervasive territorial control and very ready to use any amount of violence against civilians, from countless individual assassinations to mass executions, as in Hue in 1968. The Communist cause had its enthusiasts, 'fellow travelers', and opportunistic followers, but Vietnamese who were none of the above, and not outright enemies, were compelled to collaborate actively or passively by the threat of the violence so liberally used. That is exactly what the insurgents in Iraq are now doing, and this is no coincidence. All insurgencies follow the same pattern. Locals who are not sympathetic to begin with, who cannot be recruited to the cause, are compelled to collaborate by the fear of violence, readily reinforced by demonstrative killing of those who insist on refusing to help the resistance. Neutrality is not an option."

"By contrast, the capacity of American armed forces to inflict collective punishments does not extend much beyond curfews and other such restrictions, inconvenient to be sure and perhaps sufficient to impose real hardship, but obviously insufficient to out-terrorize insurgents. Needless to say, this is not a political limitation that Americans would never want their armed forces to overcome, but it does leave the insurgents in control of the population, the real 'terrain' of any insurgency....

During and after the Second World War, after very detailed preparations, the U.S. Army and Navy governed the American zone in Germany, all of Japan and parts of Italy.

Initially, U.S. officers were themselves the administrators, with such assistance from local officials as they chose to re-employ. Since then, however, the United States has preferred both in Vietnam long ago and now in Iraq to leave government to the locals."

"That decision reflects another kind of politics, manifest in the ambivalence of a United States government that is willing to fight wars, that is willing to start wars because of future threats, that is willing to conquer terroritory or even entire countries, and yet is unwilling to govern what it conquers, even for a few years.

Consequently, for all the real talent manifest in writing FM 3-24DRAFT, its precriptions are in the end of little or no use and amount to a kind of malpractice. All its best methods, all its clever tactics, all the treasure and blood that the United States has been willing to expend, cannot overcome the crippling ambivalence of occupiers who refuse to govern, and their principled and inevitable refusal to out-terrorize the insurgents, the necessary and sufficient condition of a tranquil occupation."

02-02-2007, 10:48 PM
How iz it that Polish railwaymen karnt nowadayz secure Poland's sustenance, even in peacetime -- do they need another war???

Put me down for 2 slaves.

Love the Romans.
Question -- how kum Rome fell???
Answer -- Rome's tax system brort Rome down. True story.

The good news about Iraq and Islam. They dont affect global warming. On the other hand, they do. Koz muslimphobia haz elected a bunch of ignorants, in USA and here in Ozz.

02-04-2007, 10:40 AM
Evidently, you haven't heard about the Shiite and Sunni problems they been having in Detroit and Deerborn on college campuses. Allowing these 'other' cultural people to 'CAMP' within our cities instead of integrating just sets the base for more problemns later on. Just like letting illegal Mexicans demonstrate and complain about not getting their rights in our country ..... LOL

What are we gonna do when they run for office and have their own personal agenda as their priority instead of our country's future in mind?f It will be too late then.

"If you don't want anything stolen, don't invite a thief to live with you". Wise words for these times.

02-04-2007, 02:12 PM
The No1 problem is the environment. Hence the No1 problem is really overpopulation. Hence the No1 unproblem is China's one-baby-law.

But if population were fixeded the No 1 problem bekumz supertstition, ie Mohammudizm Jezusizm Mosesizm. Here Russia wozdoinagoodjob, but a few bishops got away, and they bred up again, pity.

If superstition were fixeded the No 1 problem bekumz ignorance, ie mainly econimics, ie wehavtapurge the chicago-school moneyists. Here Hitler did a good job, pity he lost.

Love thoze Romanz, pity they lost, we would all be better off. Funny thing, az i said, economics gottem in the end. Romanz were actually declaring themselves to be slaves, koz this woz the No1 tax-avoidance scheme in them dayz. I agree, the Roman solution worked very well for centuryz. madMac.