29 November 2005
Why the guerrillas will probably win once the Americans leave.
Juan Cole has a take on why the guerrillas should win any post-occupation conflict:
Readers and colleagues often ask me why a Shiite majority and the Kurdish Peshmergas couldn't just take care of the largely Sunni Arab guerrillas. The answer is that the Sunni Arabs were the officer corps and military intelligence, and the more experienced NCOs, and they know how to do things that the Shiites and Kurds don't know how to do. The Sunni Arabs were also the country's elite and have enormous cultural capital and managerial know-how. Sunni Arab advantages will decline over time, but they are there for this generation, and no one should underestimate the guerrilla leadership. If the Americans weren't around, all those 77 Hungarian T-72 tanks that the new Iraqi military now has would be in guerrilla hands so fast it would make your head spin.
This argument ignores the fact that some Shia groups might join the guerrilla army on the principle that backing winners is better than going down to an inglorious defeat for the Americans and their allies. If that happened, then defeat for the Americans' clients would just come all the sooner.