Thursday, August 18, 2005

Downward Spiral

Strategypage notes something that I've pondered for quite some time now. I don't remember if I've addressed it in more than a passing manner. I certainly meant to do so. Namely, in a classic insurgency you go from agitaiton and propaganda, to terrorism, to formed units in increasing size that ambush, strike outposts, take on conventional government units, and eventually carve out "liberated" zones until large insurgent units can defeat the government in pitched battles.

I've watched events in Iraq carefully to see if anything like this is happening. It is not. Police stations are no longer overrun. Attacks by the enemy in platoon-strength or larger have dwindled. The enemy does not stand and fight--not even against Iraqi government forces. Instead, the enemy is regressing to terror attacks against civilians. Read what Strategypage has to say:

Normally, guerilla warfare strategy is to start out small, escalating your attacks and operations until your guerillas have gained enough popular support and recruited enough fighters that regular military units can be formed, and you are able to defeat enemy troops on equal terms. In Iraq, this is playing out in reverse. The current “insurgents” started out over two years ago as the Iraqi army and security forces. This crew, led by the Baath Party, had the support of most of the population via an ongoing terror campaign that convinced people that disloyalty was not worth the risk. Right after Saddam’s crowd was driven from power in early 2003, many of Saddam’s core supporters, members of his security forces, and Sunni Arabs in general, continued to fight. But over the last two years, the number of Sunni Arabs supporting the fight declined. Increasingly, the attacks were carried out by foreign Sunni Arabs. Since the guerilla warfare process is rarely tried in reverse, there’s not a lot of research available on how it will all turn out. It would appear that the Baath Party and al Qaeda terrorists, if they continue to make themselves unpopular by killing Iraqi civilians, will eventually disappear.

I've said it before and I'll repeat myself. This is no proper insurgency based on mass support. It is a revolt of Baathists with jihadi friends paying for the all-day pass at Jihadworld that has no hope of beating the vast majoritiy of the population once it gets properly organized. Only the massive amounts of money and weapons inside Iraq before the war and accessible to the Sunnis have made this fight drag on as long as it has. Absent these factors, the tiny community upset with the overthrow of Saddam could not have resisted for long.

And even with the advantages of money and arms and foreign jihadis, the so-called rebellion is dropping down the escalation ladder. How long will it be before the insurgency is just a jihadi version of Democratic Underground?