INSURGENCY AND COUNTERINSURGENCY
"The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war is one of the most ancient and dangerous illusions" (Robert Lynd)
Insurgency is a word meaning armed revolt, insurrection, or rebellion aimed at overthrowing or subverting a government or regime in power, or any duly constituted regime, including elected and non-elected officials. The official U.S. Defense Department definition is "an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through use of subversion and armed conflict." What constitutes being an organized movement for purposes of this definition is questionable since many insurgencies, taken broadly, can be conceived of as more disorganized than organized. Illustrative of this is the classic definition by Galula (1964: 5): "a protracted struggle conducted methodically, step by step, in order to attain specific intermediate objectives leading finally to the overthrow of the existing order... it can no more be predicted than a revolution; its beginnings are so vague that to determine exactly when an insurgency starts is a difficult legal, political, and historical problem."
For much of the early twentieth century, the phrase "small wars" defined insurgency, as enshrined in a 1940 Marine Corps manual by that name, and then "low intensity conflict" (LIC) became the doctrinal phrase during the 1980s and 1990s, and came to include the topics of counterinsurgency (COIN), insurgency support, counterterrorism, and multinational peacekeeping. FM 100-5 of 1993 introduced the phrase Operations Other Than War (OOTW) which the Joint community modified in Joint Pub 3.0 to Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). By 1997 the Army started using the phrase Stabilty & Support Operations (SASO), and in 2007, the doctrinal phrase became COIN, as exemplified in the easily readable December 2006 US Army Counterinsurgency Manual which defines COIN as "a mix of offensive, defensive, and stability operations conducted along multiple lines of operation."
Insurgencies involve irregular fighting with non-state armed groups such as terrorists, criminals, militias, mercenaries, and vigilantes. Sometimes the fighting forces are so irregular that they involve suicidal maniacs and irrational psychopaths. Insurgents often make demands that cannot be negotiated with, but sometimes, they can be worked with in compromises and peace agreements. Some insurgents have been known to "trade" or "sell" hostages, carry out assassination and sabotage plots, harm humanitarian workers, seek media attention for themselves, or spin off into criminal enterprise. Sometimes the fighting forces contain a mix of regular and irregular troops, as with the Vietnam War (1959-1975) where the U.S. faced not only the well-disciplined North Vietnamese Army (NVA) but the nominally independent Viet Cong (VC) insurgents as well. Insurgencies may be centralized or decentralized, well-supplied or poorly-supplied, and often make do with improvised weapons, unpredictable attacks, fear campaigns, and guerrilla tactics.
Fighting an insurgency is not the same as fighting a regular war. Although most insurgencies left unattended wind up as civil wars, there are differences. According to Global Security's Glossary of Military Terms, a civil war involves factional fighting and must meet five (5) definitional criteria for international recognition as a civil war: the contestants must control territory, have a functioning government, enjoy some foreign recognition, have identifiable regular armed forces, and engage in major military operations. An insurgency, on the other hand, doesn't have any criteria for international recognition. Instead, an insurgency is all about demands for recognition, and is filled with personal gripes and petty jealousies. Insurgencies tend to last a long time, sometimes as long as 10 to 30 years, and the time it takes to successfully combat one usually requires 8 to 11 years of sustained effort (Stoker 2007). Atkinson (1981) has even said it takes about a generation (25 years) to defeat an insurgency. History tells us that a counterinsurgency which is won takes 9 years, and one which is lost takes 13 years. By comparison, the average length of war from start to finish is only about 3 years (Hammes 2004). Fighting an insurgency also requires a special military strategy where psychological offensives are more important that armed combat (Collins 2002). It's often said that insurgencies are 80% psychological. Further, strategy will be complicated by ethical or moral factors because asymmetric warfare is likely involve a lot of unfair fighting. Also, because insurgencies rely so much on force multipliers, they are best fought with force multiplying forces, such as special operations forces (SOF), peacekeeping (PK) forces, stability operations, and rescue operations. While some insurgencies will use the tactics of terrorism, an insurgency differs from terrorism in that insurgencies are usually contained geographically, and in this respect, are more like domestic terrorism if like terrorism at all. An insurgency also differs from terrorism in being driven by diffuse anger than specific anger. It may be impossible to identify the leader or spokesperson for an insurgency, or on the other hand, the leaders may be well-known and a surgical strike on the leader may work much better than it would with terrorism. One thing that terrorism and insurgencies have in common, however, is the contest for the "hearts and minds" of the populace, making it a kind of psychological warfare (explained below). Revolutionary ideology is often involved (but not required) whereby both sides to an insurgency usually claim they are the only ones who can legitimately meet the needs and expectations of the people. Insurgencies are probably best defined as an extreme form of political and civil unrest. Criminal justice and law enforcement are urgently needed during an insurgency, but standard doctrine indicates that such civilian forces should be commanded and controlled by a different command for effective interagency cooperation that integrates military counterguerrilla action with the complex of separate and joint civil and military operations. Some decisiveness (but not necesarily destructiveness) is called for. Certain attrition-based strategies can be used successfully, but so can destructiveness strategies. The history of counterinsurgency is filled with many lessons (and mistakes) to learn from. As Stoker (2007) notes in his article entitled Insurgencies Rarely Win, the main lesson is overcoming the myth that determined guerrilla fighters are invincible. They only win (as in Vietnam, Cuba, and Algeria) when the insurgency is an adjunct of a regular army; and they always lose (as in Malaysia, Greece, the Philippines, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Bolivia, South Africa, Angola, and Peru) when their inherent weaknesses (such as unstable leadership, lack of training areas, and insecure supply lines) are exploited.
Fighting an insurgency is not the same as fighting a war on crime. At some point, insurgents are quite happy to let proxies or criminals do their work, and what mostly happens is that ordinary criminals and/or disgruntled segments of the population jump in on the action. This later tendency is what academics call "primitive rebellion" or criminal banditry, and it has been noted ever since Hobsbawm (1965), but see the more recent U.S. Army War College (2005) document entitled "Street Gangs: The New Urban Insurgency" which compares mutated forms of terrorist-insurgents to criminal street gangs, or Louise Shelley's Nexus of Organized Crime and Terrorism (pdf) which explores some interesting connections between terrorists and transnational criminals. The commingling of funds and money laundering, for instance, are good examples of these connections. There are dozens of ways in which criminal behavior and insurgent behavior overlap, and the longer an insurgency runs, the more the overlap. It should be noted that criminologists have never thoroughly examined nor explained exactly how criminal and political motivations mix and morph during an insurgency. This isn't because it can't be done; it's just hard to do because it would require some extensive revision of criminological theory. Thomas, Kiser & Casebeer (2005), while not criminologists, represent a good start in this direction which, in many ways, extends social disorganization and cultural transmission theory toward a description of the seams, gaps, or holes in social structure which provide life-cycle sustaining points for "criminal-terrorists." Robb (2007) also provides some good starting points toward an "emergent intelligence" model of the transmutation from terrorist to insurgent-criminal. It may also be noted that from a spectrum of conflict approach, perhaps the best thing that can happen, ironically, is for an insurgency to mutate into crime. Handling the situation as a crime problem affords an end to the glamorization of insurgents as "terrorists" and starts recognizing them for the "street thugs" they really are. And, while it must be remembered that fighting an insurgency is not the same as fighting crime, the end-goal is the same. To be effective, one's strategy must be to modify or alter the social order giving rise to the problem in the first place. Atkinson (1981) reminds us of this, and so does O'Connor (1994), although the main problem becomes "who's laws" are enforced and if legal reform is in the cards.
Fighting an insurgency is not the same as fighting a war on terror. Classic counterterrorism strategy is enemy-centric while classic counterinsurgency is population-centric. Counterinsurgency involves as many as 28 things different from counterterrorism, not the least of which is the importance of keeping the momentum (Kilcullen 2005; pdf articles: 28 Fundamentals of Counterinsurgency pdf; Countering Global Insurgency). A population- or environment-centric initiative aims to reduce "wicked" or complex chaos and violence coming from all sides. Spillover has already occurred. Every solution seems to make the problem worse. It must be accepted that counterinsurgency is both part of the solution and part of the problem; i.e, a quagmire exists from which short-term extraction is impossible. Combat operations do not win COIN. Judicious use of firepower works. Force must be used as carefully and with as much discrimination as possible. The key to success is not to create more insurgents than you capture or kill. It is also important to be agile, meaning that trust must be vested in the lower ranks to make on-the-spot decisions (rank doesn't matter; talent does). Civil and military operations should cut across a number of sectors or lines; i.e., security, economic, political, and information sectors must all be making progress at the same time.
CHARACTERISTICS OF FOURTH-GENERATION WARFARE
Since the way a society conducts warfare tells a lot about its social structure and the beliefs it holds dear, it helps to have some kind of theoretical perspective on warfare to begin with, and a Darwinian perspective (war evolves) is as good as any, which in fact is the approach taken by Hammes (2004) who outlines the following four stages in the history of warfare:
First-generation war (1GW) -- the kind practiced by Napoleon in the 19th century, involving line and column attacks, and dependent most of all upon patriotism to provide a continuous supply of manpower
Second-generation war (2GW) -- the kind displayed during the two World Wars in the 20th century, involving campaigns of movement which eventually get bogged down in trench warfare where defense assumes supremacy over offense, and mostly dependent upon a strong economy and superior firepower
Third-generation war (3GW) -- the kind exemplified by Hitler's blitzkrieg actions during WWII, involving the projection of power and maneuver warfare over vast distances quickly to wipe out an enemy's command and control, and mostly dependent upon propaganda to rob the enemy of their will to fight
Fourth-generation war (4GW) -- the kind that focuses deeply in the enemy's rear, like an evolved form of insurgency, which uses all available networks (netwar) - political, economic, social, international organizations, the media, the Internet, and world opinion - to make the enemy's goals seem unobtainable or too costly. This is the only kind of war America has ever lost, and it has done so three times (Vietnam, Lebanon, and Somalia).
Terrorism, ruthlessness, and asymmetric tactics characterize fourth-generation war. For example, the enemies of the U.S. have long learned the lesson that to defeat superior firepower, all that is necessary is to push women and children to the front, and to practice classic Maoist insurgency tactics:
Di jin, wo tui (When the enemy advances, we withdraw)
Di jiu, wo roa (When the enemy rests, we harass)
Di pi, wo da (When the enemy tires, we attack)
Di tui, wo jui (When the enemy withdraws, we pursue)
Almost all insurgents practice a form of urban terrorism invented by Frantz Fanon in Algeria and Raul Sendic in Uruguay. Fanon's notion of "terror for terror's sake" is some kind of psychobabble which argues that commitment to a death-thrill cult can be a therapeutic force for building self-esteem, especially among oppressed people. Raul Sendic represents, for all intents and purposes, the "Robin Hood" ideology of terrorism (killing and stealing from the rich, and giving to the poor). Both advocated or practiced an urban terrorism strategy (aka Marighella strategy or Tupamaros strategy) of doing everything in their power to provoke government retaliation and hence separate the government from its people in every way possible. This is primarily accomplished by ensuring the unnecessary killing of innocents; i.e., collateral damage which is planned to occur during both the terrorist attack and government response.
THE SANDINISTA REFINEMENT
A war of attrition accompanied by extensive international propaganda is the fastest way to weaken an enemy's resolve. What matters is whether the international press is covering the story, and whether there are also international academics who see the insurgent's side of things. This tactic is called the Sandinista refinement (Hammes 2004), and historically, it derives in part from Che Guevara's "foco theory of insurgency" (from the Spanish word foquismo for torch). It holds that a small focus or nucleus group of guerrillas will be able to stimulate a spontaneous and popular uprising by playing their cards right. Examples in the modern context include socialist revolutionaries who disavow and dissociate themselves from anything resembling Communist doctrine. Another example is when a hate-filled terrorist group seeks out an alliance with some peace group or religious organization. It is important with the Sandinista refinement to appear to have taken the moral high road, so what Palestinians do, for instance, is stage for the press images of youngsters throwing rocks at Israeli vehicles (avoiding the more practical method of throwing Molotov cocktails). They will also portray Hamas and terrorist groups as providers of medical care and social services. It must always appear that the fighters are oppressed, impoverished people fighting for human rights and human dignity. They must enshrine themselves in international law. The goal is to change world opinion. If taken prisoner, the fighters must be ordered (as the al-Qaeda training manual instructs) to claim they were beaten and abused. If all else fails, it's time to use an accelerated birth rate to simply out-demographize the enemy. Insurgent fighters don't even have to win; they simply have to stay the course until the other side gives up or gets distracted by something else. Less global versions of the Sandinista Refinement are possible. Terrorists who practice insurgency almost always adhere to guerrilla warfare doctrine by trying to earn the loyalty of the people.
Overall, seven key aspects or dynamics of an insurgency exist: leadership, ideology, objectives, environment and geography, external support, phasing and timing, and organization and operational patterns. The root cause (or center of gravity) is generally some socio-demographic aspect of the population (shared ethnicity, religion, or grievance). The insurgency will have mouthpieces who try to infiltrate traditional politics. The insurgency will have paid protestors to disrupt elections. The insurgency will have enough external support to harass the police and military authorities with constant rocket fire. The insurgency will have operatives to sabotage critical infrastructure so that electricity and other public utilities are constantly disrupted. On the social level, the insurgency will exploit any and all class divisions it can within the society. Many insurgencies also take interest in re-educating the youth of a society.
THE VARIETIES OF INSURGENTS
TYPE #1: Regime Loyalists -- These are people who consist of the old military and security forces of the previous regime, and would include all the volunteer, civilian militia groups, as well as all the intelligence assets (domestic spies and snitches) for the previous regime's officials. They are not criminals, and many are, in fact, quite well-educated, wealthy, and speak English. Their employment records and histories are likely to have been kept secret, so there's no use in trying to work off some central directory of government employees. This makes their exact number unknown. Their modus operandi, however, is quite predictable. They operate on the basis of inspiration, not taking orders directly from anybody, but dispensing attacks whenever they think the moment is right, almost as if they could read the minds of their leaders. When they attack, they do so with reach, skill, strength, and sophistication, and the attacks are coordinated in military fashion to include distractions and account for counterattacks.
TYPE #2: Disaffected Citizens -- These are untrained, leaderless, delinquents and criminals for the most part, who will do anything for money, anything in hopes of making an illegal profit, and may or may not be genuinely angry about the occupation of their country. Their weapons are frequently homemade weapons or what they can find, and their attacks are quite unpredictable and on an ad hoc (occasional) basis. The problems they present are much like the problems of gang behavior on the homefront, and their actions are sometimes predicable from reading the graffitti they seemingly put on everything. Their modus operandi is not too smart, however, as they always seem to exposing themselves in crowds where they try to whip up a protest into mob violence, and then they get killed. The smarter ones, like citizens in general, keep their role down to serving as spotters for other insurgent groups.
TYPE #3: Terrorists -- These are terrorists who may have been operating in the country beforehand, or terrorists who have come into the country after the occupation. Either way, they represent the same kind of threat, which is that they are usually well-armed, well-trained, and have an interest in weapons of mass destruction. Standard terrorist ideology calls for a "scorched Earth" policy after a safe haven has been occupied, so it isn't past them to use some biological, chemical, or nuclear weapon to destroy the whole area, civilians and all, to get at the occupiers. Actually, it seems the continued influx of terrorists to the region works against their interests, because they spend a lot of time on organizational matters such as "who's in charge" and so forth. Nonetheless, well-organized, military-style terrorist organizations represent the gravest threat during most phases of an insurgency and counter-insurgency.
TYPE #4: Foreign Fighters -- These are people from neighboring countries who either sympathize with the cause of one or more other insurgent groups, or hate the occupiers so much, for their own reasons, that they jump at the chance to immigrate and fight the enemy, "infidels" who have invaded the Muslim world, for example. Generally, they have little or no military training, and their connection to a cause is usually quite religious, but the locals often don't want them around. Some come on their own, or at the prompting of some religious leader, and only a few of them have any resources or money to operate successfully. However, in late 2007, American forces cracked a terrorist stronghold in the Syria-Iraq border region, and found records documenting an organized smuggling operation of foreign fighters from 2006-07. This "Sinjar cell" was responsible for the import of about 700 foreign jihadists into Iraq, 60% of whom came from countries supposedly allied with the U.S. (e.g., Saudi Arabia 305; Libya 137; Yemen 68; Algeria 64; 50 from Morocco, 38 from Tunisia, 14 from Jordan, 6 from Turkey and 2 from Egypt). Foreign fighters represent a wild card, for the most part, for counter-insurgency efforts.
TYPE #5: Criminals -- These are most likely gangs, narcotraffickers, narco-guerrillas, or other aspiring drug- or crime kingpins and their henchmen. They will do almost anything for money or power, although some have ruthless loyalty to a cartel, cabal, or other transnational criminal organization. Local gangs also present a problem. The criminal element is the most vicious, attacking and preying upon ordinary civilians. They almost never have any stated goals or political philosophy. Their objective is to create havoc for the "hell" of it. Criminals often prey on refugees or easy targets of opportunity, and while their dangerousness should not be underestimated, they are a nuisance, for the most part.
In reality, there are many more types of insurgents than these basic five. To name a few more, there may be: insurrectionists (defying authority at every turn), revolutionaries (seeking the creation of a new government), dissidents (who critique just about anything), secessionists (seeking the establishment of a spin-off state), extremists (creating general mayhem and chaos), and militias or vigilantes (paramilitary groups trying to keep the peace). There are also fugitives from justice, as in the case when you have war criminals that have melted into the countryside. One may also encounter rebel groups, factions or splinter groups, cliques or juntas (a political or military faction). Spin-off groups like these tend to create cadres (small cells of people organized for rapid expansion) and cabals (small cells of people, sometimes related, organized for secrecy). In addition, there may be outside state support or sponsorship of an insurgency, and this is similar to what is called a proxy war. Such outside support is usually given for geopolitical reasons, and may involve assistance with weapons, money, material, or a safe place to organize and train (safe haven). Diasporas, or immigrant communities established in foreign countries, frequently support insurgencies in their homeland. Refugees, guerrilla movements, religious organizations, wealthy individuals, and even human rights organizations have all been involved in supporting insurgencies, for a variety of reasons. For all these reasons, countering an insurgency is a complicated process, as evidenced by the following actual map of COIN dynamics in Afghanistan:
ORGANIZATION OF A RESISTANCE MOVEMENT
Although resistance movements are known primarily for uniting people across ethnic, age, and gender lines (i.e., women and children are recruited into the resistance), the ultimate goal of a resistance movement is to break down the ties of people with their duly constituted government, and to do so by a strategy of attrition (lassitude or weariness). Such movements are not very selective about what it takes to accomplish this, and the intensity of attacks will vary (sometimes being quite focused). They will seize upon any source of discontent among the people to rally support for the "movement" -- a hatred of anything. In other words, resistance movements are not politically well-organized, at least at first, in their so-called "passive" stage. Insurgencies benefit from chaos, mob violence, societal breakdown, and psychological turmoil. The (usually) charismatic leadership of an insurgency doesn't really provide vision or guidance, other than to excite the people into action - militant action where somebody gets killed or property gets destroyed. Leaders gain prestige by how quickly they can mobilize people into action, and most groups use multiple leaders since the movement would be doomed if a single leader were assassinated. Note that this is not leaderless resistance (as found in some forms of terrorism); instead, it is the concept of collective leadership.
At some point, the resistance movement selects an ideology that has great appeal to the most number of people. Often, this ideology is copied in whole or part from the literature on anti-colonialism or anti-imperialism (e.g., Lenin, Mao, Guevarra, liberation theology, etc.). Ideological conflicts will inevitably arise within the movement because the group must be vague enough for broad appeal and specific enough to address important issues. Additionally, insurgents will have to be ambiguous about how they plan to accommodate differences among the various groups within society once they do come to power and get the chance to institute reforms. It is extremely difficult to sort through the ideological machinations of an insurgent movement; and it is also extremely important to distinguish the true ideals that fuel the movement from propaganda. In the secondary stages of an insurgency, armed conflict becomes less important than the practice of psychological warfare.
Insurgency and counterinsurgency are asymmetric forms of non-traditional warfare. The insurgents are fighting for the most effect with limited resources, and the counter-insurgents are fighting for the hearts and minds of the population. It is important to clarify that winning over "hearts and minds" is NOT the same as trying to get a local populace to "like" the COIN forces. This gratitude theory, that "being nice to the people means they will feel grateful and stop supporting the insurgents" does NOT work, and in fact, aggravates the insurgency problem because support based on liking does not last. This does not mean that efforts at likeability are totally irrelevant, but it does suggest that the true meaning of the phrase hearts and minds is as follows:
Hearts -- the population must be convinced that COIN success is in their long-term interests. Calculated self-interest, not emotion, is what counts. Keys to success include hitting the enemy hard, kinetically, publicly, responsibly (no innocents are killed), and when it is most politically feasible.
Minds -- the population must be convinced that COIN forces are actually going to win, and that a transitional government will eventually become a permanent government and protect their interests in the long-run. Assurances of longevity must be given since any insurgency's asset is the argument that they will be around once the COIN forces leave (Dilegge 2007).
PsyOps (Psychological Operations) can be also abbreviated PSYOP or PSYWAR (psychological warfare). Counter-propaganda campaigns on a global level have long been a part of American law ever since the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 which prohibits the use of domestic propaganda on American soil and uses a standard of reasonableness to determine the appropriateness of propaganda intended for foreign consumption. A psychological warfare campaign is a pure war of the mind, and involves the use of communication, television, radio, loudspeakers, leaflets, newspapers, books, magazines, music, and posters to deliver a message that supports loyalty to the objectives of those in power. In a technical sense, PsyOps are not a form of force, but a force multiplier that uses nonviolent means in a violent environment. On the other hand, PsyOps have been a recognized weapon of war ever since Alexander the Great. Today, the U.S. military recognizes three kinds of PsyOps:
Tactical -- addressed to a specific group of insurgents or an identifiable enemy
Strategic -- a carefully planned campaign against a larger target audience or population
Consolidation -- aimed at assisting civil authorities to restore law and order
The use of propaganda is a prominent feature of psychological warfare, and the CIA, among others, often classify propaganda as one of three kinds. So-called "black" propaganda consists of planted material that makes it look like the enemy insurgents are bad people. Doctored sound- or video-recordings of them saying they don't really care about their own people or that they are cross-dressing perverts are some examples. Then, there's "white" propaganda, which is usually easy to obtain and verifiable, that can truthfully point out how bad the other side is. The population would be informed, for example, that an insurgent leader has six illegitimate kids with women from the other side. Finally, there's "grey" propaganda, of the half-truth, half-falsity variety, otherwise known as misinformation or blowback. Grey PsyOps involve cover and deception, and are sometimes extremely complex and intricate affairs.
The most frequently used means of conducting PsyOps are radio broadcasts and leaflet drops leaflets. During World War II, the Soviets and Germans dropped leaflets containing sexual propaganda, suggesting to the citizenry that the enemy behind the front lines were ravishing the native women. North Koreans still use this technique today to keep their soldiers stirred up. The U.S. has a formal ban on sexual propaganda, and prefers to drop simple leaflets letting the citizenry know which radio frequencies to tune into.
Leaflet drops played a major role in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Grenada, Somalia, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, and the Invasion of Iraq. The content can range from the simple "Surrender or Die" theme to "Safe Passage" tickets for deserters. Radio broadcasts tend to replace leaflets when hostilities are declining. Leaflets have their problems, and far better are radio and television broadcasts for the "hearts and minds" of people. In terms of propaganda and counter-propaganda value, such broadcast have reached new level of sophistication in recent years. Most viewers are familiar with Radio Free Europe, for example, but Clandestine Radio Watch tracks the surging development of this phenomena worldwide. In 2004, the United States launched a TV station known as Al Hurra (the Free One) which is intended to be a fair and balanced answer to outlets like Al Jazeera. However, the TV station Al Jazeera is simply unstoppable. It is considered by many in the Arab world as the "voice of truth" because, despite repeated requests by the U.S. to the Emir of Qatar (who subsidizes Al Jazeera to the tune of $30 million a year) to tone down the anti-Americanism, some 80% of Arabs believe it to be truthful. From time to time, Al Jazeera receives videotapes from Osama bin Laden and/or Ayman Al-Zawahiri, which they sometimes edit before airing. U.S. requests for the original, uncut, raw tapes often go unanswered.
The Problem with Television Propaganda
|Television stations as a tool in the war on terrorism may have limited effectiveness, and in fact, may produce counter-effective reactions (if the broadcasts are seen as too strongly tilted or too dull). In the Middle East, for example, where over 100 TV stations exist, Al Hurra tended to rely upon the attractiveness of their female news reporters (which backfired) as a way to counter dullness, and other news reporting is seen as too strongly tilted pro-American. Effectiveness might be increased by abandoning any attempts at "real-time" news reporting, abandoning entertainment programming, and just sticking to documentaries and educational programming. A strong web site also helps with today's media, as does any of the new "social networking" stuff like Twitter, YouTube, etc.|
To be successful at winning over the "hearts and minds" of a populace, the best strategy is to utilize many different, interagency efforts and initiatives. These joint and independent efforts all need to be effectively coordinated, and in this regard, see the GAO Report on Interagency Coordination relative to countering Arab anti-Americanism. Propaganda can have a "thermostat effect" which heats up or cools down a crisis, and propaganda can also have a "wildfire effect" when it gets out of control and produces long-term, unpredictable effects. Some of these long-term, undesirable effects include the creation of zealots who, years after a crisis, are still carrying out hate crime against a demonized enemy of years ago. Other extremists may construct conspiracy-type distortions based on "outdated" ideas from earlier propaganda. Certain beliefs and attitudes, emotions and feelings, can rather easily lead to political extremism and fanaticism. Many of the crazies and fanatics in the world today exist because some government, somewhere, engaged in propaganda. It's a dangerous, dirty business, and no self-respecting government ought to engage in it because it borders on being state criminality (Johns & Borreo 1991). Another danger is trying to have too much mass appeal in winning a "war of ideas." Trying to use ideas to influence people who do not think is an exercise in futility. Such people are led and influenced by those who do think -- the elites, the educated, or the more literate in a country. On the other hand, it is often important not to forget the masses, and simple messages (or pictures) often work for this.
Nation building is neither impossible nor immoral. Tens of millions of people in places like Albania, Bosnia, Cambodia, East Timor, El Salvador, Germany, Japan, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Mozambique, Namibia, and Sierra Leone are living peacefully, most under democratically elected governments, because UN, NATO, European, or U.S. troops came in, separated contending factions, disarmed former combatants, promoted reconstruction, held elections, installed freely chosen governments, and remained long enough to see that these took hold. It's important to make at least some distinctions between nation building and standard warfare or other war-like actions which are bound by the dictum that "if you blow things up, you have to rebuild it." Since at least the 1945 War with Japan, the standard expectation has been that, after an invasion or occupation, annexation of territory may take place and/or the establishment of a friendly government will occur. This has been the traditional American approach as a "liberator" instead of an "occupier." Although the U.S. has some experience, since MacArthur in Japan and rebuilding Germany after WWII, at provisional or interim "constitutional-like" methods, these successes have relied primarily upon roundtables or revolving doors where at least some previous regime legality is left in place, in accordance with international law mandating preservation of the status quo. The U.S. is not yet skillfully experienced with what might be called "total nation building" where the breakdown has involved the loss of both legitimacy and legality. Nation building in such climates usually results from a MOOTW (Military Operation Other Than War -- pronounced "moo-twah"). These kinds of operations held a very low priority prior to 9/11. These kinds of operations can produce insurgency problems (Gallagher 1992; Poole 2004).
Nation building has the defining feature of mixing military and civilian forces, particularly in areas involving justice, negotiation, or dispute resolution. Military forces should never be deployed alone to engage in nation building. One of the most basic of all rules in international law is that you don't wage war on civilians, but in the sense of an occupier's "war on chaos" or "war on crime," that's exactly what certain occupations do. The insurgents are going to try and kidnap or kill as many innocent civilians as they can, and the counter-insurgents are going to be unable to distinguish criminals from combatants. It's true what Max Weber (1914/1978) said about legitimacy -- neither pure imposition nor pure agreement will achieve it. If you use strong-arm military tactics, you run the risk of uniting all the different factions, and then you've got a guerilla war on your hands. If you act too slowly or softly, a chain reaction takes place, and you've got countless acts of mob violence on your hands. To do nation building effectively, you need to have power and legitimacy. For power, there has to be an overwhelming police (mixed with military) presence. The RAND corporation estimates that twenty (20) security personnel for every thousand (1000) inhabitants is sufficient to establish such a presence, and produces no question about "who's in control" especially when combined with a massive gun control effort. Other experts say you only need ten (10) security personnel for every thousand (1000) inhabitants, especially if those personnel are specialists and coming from an all-volunteer military. Whatever the size of your force, your next step is to establish legitimacy, and conventional wisdom has it that, at least according to Elster's (1994) notion, you've got to establish electoral freedom and an interim constitution (called "midstream legitimacy") that eventually leads to adherence for the principles of plurality, publicity, and legality (called "upstream legitimacy"). The following are some other selected ideas on the topic -- presented as option A and option B.
Option A (Selective Intervention): You can let the civil violence run its course, or at least let selected acts of insurrection go unpunished. There's actually a school of thought that supports this idea of just letting things run its course. International law, despite whatever other values it may contain, requires a certain amount of tolerance. The principles of national sovereignty and noninterference mean that one nation doesn't normally interfere in the internal affairs of another nation, and the trick is to tolerate those parts of an insurrection that have the most to do with internal affairs (such as family or real estate issues). This strategy, of course, rewards the insurgency, and it will probably escalate to horrible dimensions. It will be terrible to see all those dead bodies and faces of starving children on the television screen every night (the CNN effect), but sometimes it's prudent to let the civil unrest reach its natural conclusion, and let the indigenous people of that country handle it themselves, much like a natural disaster -- such as a flood, earthquake, or volcanic disruption -- with the rebuilding effort focused on recovery of things that matter (such as health services, critical resources, and humanitarian relief). The CNN effect often triggers actions when people get sick and tired of seeing starving children and needless bloodshed. Playing out this strategy runs the risk of being labeled a colonialist exploiter (which is what you'd definitely be accused of if you partitioned the country into separate zones or provinces), but being called bad names is something you're going to be accused of anyway, even in humanitarian situations (needy nations sometimes resent receiving charity). It may be better to preserve your economic vital interests than save your political face or try to achieve political solutions in an insurgency situation. The U.S. democratic system doesn't travel well, and democracy cannot be exported wholesale to some other place. It must be a product of internal domestic development in a society. There are actually degrees of "letting things run its course" and most nations, do not, of course, ever follow the fully extreme, non-interventionist route. Far more likely to happen is that, with a relatively ignored insurgency, there will be more directed and targeted violence at expatriates, foreigners, and other targets of opportunity, and there is the risk that violence will spill over into internecine conflict on other lands.
Option B (Fiscal Law approach): You can engage in both humanitarian and political rebuilding in the form of leaving behind better roads, schools, food, hospitals, etc., and civilized nations adhering to the principle of civility have always thought that these "pre-political" acts of kindness and love will have important consequences for human dignity. The problem, however, is that during active upheavals of social upheaval, most humanitarian aid will be intercepted and monopolized by one or more of the insurgency groups. It can be almost guaranteed that the food, first aid, and supplies will never get in the hands of those starving children you saw on television. Insurgency groups have even been known to kidnap and execute Red Cross or Christian groups trying to get humanitarian aid into the country. Protection of humanitarian aid efforts and/or the notion that a threat to human rights anywhere is a threat to human rights everywhere are the only two good reasons for mounting an enforced humanitarian aid operation. In fact, it may be precisely at this point in the endgame -- when humanitarian efforts fail -- when it is time for the occupying power to "dump" the rebuilt nation on the world's lap -- or perform the handoff in some politically feasible manner. It's important to emphasize exactly how politically correct the handoff must appear because dumping must not appear to have occurred. However, it will always appear to be done abruptly, and it is never perfect. No transition plan in the world is likely to be satisfactory to all parties. If you leave an interim government in power assisted by your advisors, it will quickly be seen as having no legitimacy (a puppet government). Your hardest choice may involve a complete pull-out or withdrawal, leaving what precious few democratic institutions you've built in place and subject to fate. Your worst fate may involve a seemingly unsolvable refugee problem, and refugees flock not only out of safety but in order to obtain any handouts. Over 7 million refugees have been restricted or segregated in camps or settlements for a decade or longer (e.g., 300,000 Angolans in Zambia, Congo-Kinshasa, and Namibia; 2 million Afghans in Iran and Pakistan; 100,000 Bhutanese in Nepal; and 500,000 refugees from Sudan).
Although far from a blueprint for nation-rebuilding (if anything like a perfect "blueprint" existed), the example of Iraq's Coalition Provisional Authority is illustrative of the magnitude involved in re-establishing a nation from scratch. Iraq's CPA was based on the idea of restoring a ministerial form of government in transitional form. Ministries are the same as executive cabinet agencies, and they have the power to propose laws that are approved by a temporary civilian administrator. As long as we are discussing what since 2002 have been called "Provincial (Provisional) Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), it might also be important to point out that, as Schnaubelt (2005-06), that tensions are inherent whenever "civilian" and "military" responsibilities intersect to implement frameworks or models. Human Terrain Teams represent the current model of mixing military and civilian expertise, and in those instances, there have been some serious conflicts between, for example, Special Forces and Ph.D. anthropologists. In the case of Iraq, the US went through at least seven phases of nation building, as follows:
Plan A -- liberation (March 2003) -- expectation of the populace to welcome liberation, with rapid stabilization taking place, and reconstruction handed off to someone else
Plan B -- reconstruction (May to June 2003) -- security tasks put in military hands with reconstruction put in the hands of an American proconsul
Plan C -- counterinsurgency (summer 2003) -- heavy-handed combat operations, raids, the filling of detention centers, and token reconstruction efforts
Plan D -- drawdown (summer 2004) -- phased withdrawal contingent upon the transfer of security responsibilities to indigent forces and the achievement of political milestones like a constitution
Plan E -- secure the capital ( June 2006) -- an operation to reduce sectarian violence neighborhood by neighborhood with a "clear, hold, build" strategy
Plan F -- surge (January 2007) -- use of additional troops to "clear, control, and retain" areas that are safe havens for terrorists and to allow time for the local government to make political progress
Plan G -- endgame (December 2010) -- the withdrawal of fighting troops, the declaring of an end to armed combat, and sending all but the most essential (approx. 60,000) personnel home within a year
THE POST-INSURGENCY BREAKDOWN OF SOCIAL ORDER
Post-conflict nation building is complicated by a number of factors. Let's take a look at some of the crime and social problems involved in the total breakdown of a society. In this scenario, there's usually a lot of the following going on:
murder -- innocent people are killed by the thousands
genocide -- sometimes a whole ethnic or religious group is wiped out
child abuse and neglect -- children are beaten, killed, or starved to death
homelessness -- homeowners are thrown out of their homes
robbery -- anyone found outside is beaten and robbed
rape -- the whole family system breaks down; any female is fair game
enslavement -- hostages are taken for sexual or personal purposes
torture -- cruel and unusual methods of pain are inflicted on thousands
executions -- wholesale groups of people are lined up for firing squads
no police protection -- armed vigilantees and militias will roam the streets
The regular police may have all disbanded, fled into the hills, been absorbed into some militia group, or divided up along ethnic lines. It should be obvious that one of the main purposes of counter-insurgency is to restore legal order, to act as some sort of international police force, but you will also need a court and penal system. Few military services in the world are designed for these purposes. The military is trained to take and hold territory, not demonstrate proper search and seizure procedures, nor maintain penal institutions. By the time you get any kind of ground force in place, it's often too late to conduct any crime prevention or community oriented policing, but that's exactly what you need.
The CIA did a study back in 1994, called the State Failure Task Force Report, the findings of which coincide with the findings of Kaplan (1994) and Rotberg (2003), which helped to determine what the primary factors were that lead to total social breakdown. They determined three primary factors:
international trade -- most of the countries that fell into chaos were drowning in debt and had depleted all their natural resources. They had nothing to export that other countries wanted, and they had to borrow money from IMF to import even the most basic things that would give their citizens a decent standard of living.
infant mortality -- overpopulation, urbanization, overcrowding, stillborn deaths, crib deaths, and fatal childhood diseases characterized most child-raising. No food, water, product, or environmental safety was in place. Disease was rampant. Medical professionals, like anyone with advanced degrees, had long left the country in a brain drain.
undemocratic elections -- the government and people just couldn't seem to implement the idea of honest and fair elections. Whole ethnic groups were excluded, elections were rigged, and ballots were either undercounted or overcounted. Tribalism and vigilante responses to crime and disorder were prevalent.
Seventy percent (70%) of all insurgency problems can be predicted with just the first three factors, two years in advance. When a country breaks down, it becomes prime breeding ground for criminal organizations, terrorist training camps, and an economy of smuggling. It's not a pretty site when a country breaks down, but the interesting sociological question is whether social order breaks down. Chances are that some customs, folkways, and norms will remain, and the temptation of theocracy is that mores will cohere these remaining social building blocks into some sense of theodicy or predictability. In a post-insurgency situation, the people will flock to the religious institutions even more than before. A diversity of religious institutions is therefore important to have in place, or at least some other social institutions that provide countervaling values. The more secular and this-worldly an occupying power leaves a re-built nation, the better.
All insurgencies are in some sense civil wars, and along these lines, the work of Paul Collier, an Oxford professor and one of the world's foremost experts in civil war, is worth mentioning. Collier (2003) has written extensively about the causes of internal conflicts, but his main ideas can be summarized below:
The Collier Model of Civil War
|There are three ways to deal with civil wars: one, prevent them from happening; two, shorten the conflict; and three, reduce the risk of resumption of conflict in post-conflict situations. The biggest payoff comes from reducing the risk of relapse or resumption, since renewed violence accounts for around half of all global civil wars. The average civil war lasts for about seven years (Collier & Hoeffler 2004), and economically, each year of civil war reduces a country's growth rate by around 2%. Civil war also causes severe deterioration in health status. There is no clear evidence that a civil war usually spills over into neighboring countries, but there are, however, economic impacts and neighborhood arms races. Once a country has had a civil war, it becomes far more likely to have a further war (the so-called "conflict trap"). About half the problems causing a resumption of conflict come from problems generated by the initial conflict, and the other half are typically pre-existing grievances associated with such things as brutality and corruption by a dominant ethnic group or dictator. Poorly-timed aid to a foreign country in the throes of a civil war can make matters worse.|
THE LESSONS OF NATION BUILDING
Success involves a whole lot more than just holding free elections. There must be long-term implementation of sovereignty, sustainment, and freedom. How sovereignty is going to play out is a matter of politics, and freedom will likely be put on the back burner, so ECONOMIC sustainment becomes a priority, and the role of the private sector is critical in this. Take Kurdistan, for instance, aka the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), which is so eager to become nation-built that one of their leaders once told US officials "We are ready to become your fifty-first state and provide you with oil." Similar situations exist in South Sudan, the Falklands, and off the coast of East Africa. It would be a mistake to neglect the role of OIL in many places where nation building takes place. Let's take a close look at the examples of Kurdistan and Iraq:
Big Oil, Iraq, and Kurdistan
|The KRG governs its own region with its own armed forces, but as a part of northern Iraq, has had its oil revenue aggressively taken by the Baghdad government. Kurdistan has lots of oil, not as much as some of the large fields in central and southern Iraq, but lots of oil nonetheless. After Iraq was rebuilt, the government promised Big Oil companies they would eventually move away from "service contracts" (where 99% of the revenue goes to government) to "production-sharing agreements" (where only 80% of the revenue goes to government). Baghdad has never kept this promise, so some Big Oil companies started making deals with Kurdistan, who offered more profitable agreements. Baghdad responded by blacklisting these Big Oil companies from working the rest of Iraq, and even though some companies still find the 1% take profitable, the lesson is that newly-formed governments should not get too greedy.|
Economics aside, developing good political leadership is important. Many parts of the world have a sorry history of selecting bad leaders. Tribal cultures have a long history of only respecting the toughest person who rises to the top. Hence, the problem is not so much the top dictators and despots, but all the "petty tyrants" who are rampant in so many countries. This is often referred to as the phenomenon of warlordism. Warlordism is the main problem with the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and militias and cadres of this type need to be assessed from both exogenous (outside) and endogenous (inside) viewpoints (Thomas, Kiser & Casebeer 2005). Warlordism (as thuggish units) usually don't have the attitude, structure, or effectiveness of professional military units, or insurgents, but they are nonetheless masters of the more "criminal" realms of a society. The whole trick with a nation of warlords is to develop some type of community leadership structure, in which you have decentralized authority in provinces and towns. Warlords and militia leaders usually confine their interests to central state porkbarrel projects as well as large infrastructure projects, like transportation, electricity, water and sewage, agriculture, health, and education. The elites of a nation also tend to have a say in infrastructure projects, but they are often bought off or corrupted by the warlords. To summarize, Prof. Byman's (2003) list of challenges which any democratic nation-building effort faces is informative:
security fears from a weak government
lack of cohesive identity
internal border disputes
regime vulnerability to outside meddling
elites pursuing military adventurism
elites whipping up communal tension
elites refusing to democratize
lack of democratic tradition
no organized democratic opposition
The CIVILIAN role in nation building is also important, and many of them can be contracted with for reconstruction and oversight purposes. Civilians can find many ways and places to contribute to post-conflict situations (but they can also meddle and do otherwise). One of the lessons learned with post-conflict Iraq is that civilians should NOT generally be used to train security forces, at least initially. This is a job best left to the military. However, if "capacity building" is important (as it always is in any framework of post-conflict reconstruction), there is a need for civilian involvement, at least in the less law enforcement-related aspects of criminal justice. As many books (e.g., Schnabel & Ehrhart 2005) and the CSIS Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction (pdf) make clear, security is only one of four pillars of reconstruction principles, with all four as follows:
security -- all aspects of a safe and secure environment must be addressed, covering both collective and individual security, and most pressingly, securing the lives of civilians from immediate and large-scale violence, and the restoration of territorial integrity. This pillar is a precondition for success outcomes in the other pillars.
justice/reconciliation -- the need for an impartial and accountable legal system must be addressed, including a system for dealing with past abuses. Effective law enforcement, fair laws, an open judicial system, humane corrections systems, and both formal and informal grievance mechanisms are hallmarks of this pillar. This pillar is often talked about as restoring "capacity" for the rule of law and is sometimes guided by restorative justice principles.
social/economic well-being -- fundamental social and economic needs must be met, including emergency relief, restoration of essential services, laying the foundation for a viable economy, and initiation of sustainable development.
governance/participation -- legitimate and effective political and administrative institutions and processes need to be in place, ideally incorporating a representative constitutional structure, a strong public sector management corps, and the creation of an active and open civil society which plays a role in keeping government in check.
There is perhaps nothing more important on the world stage than the outcomes of constitutional institutions and processes in states which have been rebuilt. Constitutional processes are the closest thing to "shining beacons of light." The goal of eliminating all the dark places in the Middle East will only be achieved if all the nations in the region turn to a constitution-based set of substantive and procedural rights. Exactly how these freedoms would be spelled out in the actual wording of a Constitution is not important; what's important is that the values are codified.
What's Needed in the Middle East
|A democratic government based on a federalist model - Swiss, German, or American, it doesn't matter which one - where all the separate states and provinces are unified and drawn upon geographical lines rather than ethnic lines; where minority rights are guaranteed - such as a model of allotting a specific number of parliamentary seats to key minority groups; where there is a guarantee of equality for all people, including women and built-in rights for women in regard to things such as polygamy and honor killings; where rational economic planning and fair distributions of oil profits are considered; and the government operates in ways that are consistent with God-given values without being subservient to theocratic law.|
ENDGAME OR EXIT STRATEGIES
Politically, there are only two methods of withdrawal from an insurgency: time-based withdrawal; and condition-based withdrawal. Either one will require an endgame or exit strategy. A "strategy" in this context means something more than what Sen. George Aiken once suggested for Vietnam: declare victory and go home. Traditional American foreign policy in this regard is driven by the concept of being an "honest broker" wherein the U.S. withdraws, leaves a modest presence, and does not take sides on any issues, letting the fledgling government make its own choices. Honest brokering requires calm tensions, the encouragement of compromise, and strong legal and constitutional processes. It also usually involves a 10-year plan. Numerous strategies have been offered. Egland's (2006) Weekly Standard article, for example, offers a sample ten-year, six-step strategy, as follows: (1) encourage innovation by emphasizing small-scale technological solutions; (2) improve training realism and abandon Cold War-era checklists; (3) allow local commanders to buy what they need; (4) strengthen intelligence sharing and develop a national insurgent database; (5) take the offensive by hunting, rather than chasing, the enemy; and (6) accept the realities of the media age by decentralizing the sharing of information.
There are many insurgencies for America and its allies to face. There will be other terror threats beyond al Qaeda with global reach. Endgame strategic thinking must ask questions like "would terror be over if Muslim leaders simply 'called off' of the jihad?" Actually, it is realistic to expect that jihadist remnants will remain, along with the many unstable places in the world which serve as breeding grounds for insurgencies. Strategically, the easy notion of putting "democratically minded strongmen" in place to replace dictators as well as partitioning a country up into ethnic enclaves are, in general, bad ideas because history has shown that installing "puppet" leaders backfires and partitioning exacerbates fighting over scarce resources. If partition must occur, David Apgar argues for a two-state solution in most cases because anything larger tends to aggravate neighbors. It is also possible that continued transitional military rule will be needed, as well as intervention in the form of "soft" coup-d'etats which at least install leaders able to implement orders which mimic the processes of democratic procedures. It seems inevitable that no matter what any rebuilt nation's future might hold, a strong degree of militarization is going to be necessary. Hopefully, it will not be of the kind where thugs raise their own paramilitaries. What is probably most needed are good, strong military traditions along with good, stable civil-military institutions. This involves a rebuilding of military tradition as well as the social order.
Clandestine Radio Watch
CNN Special on the Algerian Insurgency
CNN Special Report on Bosnia, Kosovo, and Yugoslavia
Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)
Crisis States Programme
CSIS PostConflict Reconstruction Project
East Timor: Another Somalia in the Making
Freedom Fighters, Dissidents, and Insurgents
George Mason's Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution
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Insurgency: The Unsolved Mystery
Iraq War Troop Surge of 2007
Jane's IntelWeb List of Insurgency Groups
Lyco's Infoplease on Indonesia
Operation Law and Order: The Surge Strategy
Palgrave Macmillan's Online Resource Center
Project on Insurgency, Terrorism, and Security
Psychological Operations and Psychological Warfare
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Last updated: Aug 07, 2012
Not an official webpage of APSU, copyright restrictions apply, see Megalinks in Criminal Justice
O'Connor, T. (2012). "Insurgency" MegaLinks in Criminal Justice. Retrieved from http://www.drtomoconnor.com/3400/3400lect08b.htm.