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28 December 2005
Guerrilla warfare
Juan Cole attacks what he calls "ten myths about Iraq". The only one that I take issue with is this:
3. The guerrillas are winning the war against US forces. The guerrillas are really no more than mosquitos to US forces. The casualties they have inflicted on the US military, of over 2000 dead and some 15,000 wounded, are deeply regrettable and no one should make light of them. But this level of insurgency could never defeat the US military in the field.
This is true, but it is also not important. No guerrilla force can win against a conventional force. The French were not defeated on the Algerian battlefield, and their losses in the eight-year war only amounted to about 20,000 dead. What happened in Algeria is that the conflict spread to metropolitan France and the political costs of continuing the war were greater than the political costs of recognising Algerian independence. What was true of Algeria was also true of most of the other colonial conflicts that led to independence for the countries of Asia and Africa.

So, does this mean that the guerrillas are losing the war militarily? No, because the role of the guerrilla is to avoid defeat, recruit more guerrillas and keep the war going. If the guerrillas can do that, then victory will come to them sooner or later. The Americans may vow to stay the course, but if the guerrillas keep fighting they will outlast them in the long run.

Guerrilla wars, by the way, are always won in the long run.
5 Comments:

...and you can never get rid of roaches. they all bank on longevity via numbers, just as you've mentioned.

28 December 2005 at 15:09  

The only roaches I see are the ones scurrying around feeding on the carcasses left behind by their imperial killing machine Mothership. Fucking voyeurist camp followers... I'm sure they'd be slitting the throats of the wounded and stealing everything they could carry, if they actually had the balls to be real -- and not 'virtual'.

All these rightwingers just looking for trouble... Man, you people are cruising for one Mother of all Bruisings... But don't worry guys 'n gals: I think you'll be finding what you are looking for soon enuff, I should think. But maybe you won't be so full of piss and vinegar then. Not to say anyone should ever turn their backs on your likes.

I usually give anyone like Juan Cole the benefit of the doubt, till demonstrated otherwise; but Cole long ago demonstrated to many others (let alone me) that he is not one to have faith in ability of a people to face down an imperialist invader (or any of a number of other independent acts). Frankly, like so many, he seems to be overly-impressed with Western technology and "civilization". And thus his analyses are more than a little limited in usefulness AFAIC.

100 years ago, the Thralled World didn't know what hit it. Today, any peasant in a hut KNOWS he can get himself an imperial mercenary or two or three or four if he really wants to. And more and more want to every day...

So Sayonara, imperialisti! We'll be the ones writing History -- and your epitaph.

29 December 2005 at 00:27  

ur view is not based on facts, guerillas can win wars. look at the gureillas wars in South Asia.
And americans let guerillas win simply because they donot care for the locals; crucial for guerillas warfare. So if u want to win Iraq war, fight just with rifles and mortars and avoid harrasment of locals and see the effect.

29 December 2005 at 06:34  

The point is, Pullash, that when the Vietnames mounted their final conventional attacks, they were no longer operating as guerrillas. The war had moved into a new phase; the guerrillas had created the base areas where regular troops could deploy.

A better example would be Cuba. The guerrillas captured heavy weaponry from the regular army. They stored this in their liberated zones until such time as the army had been so weakened by the guerrilla war that a conventional final atack could be mounted.

When that happened the guerrillas had ceased to exist: in effect they had become a conventional army themselves.

29 December 2005 at 17:30  

One thing this fixation on the military side of things downplays -- and thus gets completely backwards -- is that asymmetric warfare is all about striking at a physically superior enemy's weaknesses: most usually their political-ekonomic makeup.

To fixate on the military side of things is to play the game insisted upon by the aggressor. Which, of course, is where USians have almost always been at.

30 December 2005 at 01:27  

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