08 November 2005
I have mixed feelings about John Robb's work. I often feel that he tends to see Fourth Generation Warfare where none exists. Where the guerrillas are fighting a classical war of liberation and want to set up a state run by them at the end of things. Iraq, I feel, comes into that category.
However, in many, many ways this man is just spot on. With respect to the French Emergency, he argues that the state will manage to suppress the riots, but that the insurrectionists will use the time thus gained to improve their tactics. It will not be cars that get torched when they attack again, it will be France's infrastructure. He further argues that the French state may then try to buy off the rebels by recognising their militias and leaving them to control their districts.
John Robb does not state this, but it is standard guerrilla practise to try and create bases from which the guerrillas can then expand into other areas. However, in this case, that is unlikely to happen. If any Arab so much as stepped out of his autonomous area I suspect that the French would be fighting each other to get at him. In other words, any such autonomous zones that are set up would be a blind alley going nowhere. They would be worse that the old South African bantustans because the denizens of those areas would be prevented from leaving - and I doubt if anyone would be all that interested in supplying them with life's necessities. Want to have another riot? Fine, it's an autonomous zone: you pay for the reconstruction.
This whole situation if getting more and more troubling.