Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why a military victory in Iraq is impossible

almost 50% of Iraqis support attacks upon U.S. troops.

Let's do a little history here. It takes the support of approximately 33% of the population to create and sustain a viable guerilla movement in opposition to an occupation army. In both Germany and Japan after WWII, this percentage was never achieved because a) over 33% of their adult males had been killed during the fighting thus there just wasn't enough adult males left, and b) the political war was won by the Allies and thus there was no political support for guerilla war. The end result is that 0 (zero) American soldiers were killed by hostile fire after the German and Japanese surrenders.

By contrast, let's look at the American Revolution. Overall, roughly 33% of the colonists supported the rebellion against their lawful government in London, 33% opposed it, and the remainder simply wanted to go about their life in peace. Despite the rebellion having the support of only 1/3rd of the population, this 1/3rd of the population eventually won out over the largest empire on the face of the planet at that time, the British Empire, and brought the other 2/3rds of the population with them.

The tactics used by the "Sons of Liberty" terrorists in the American Revolution were similar to the tactics used by the Iraqi terrorists, albeit the fact that high explosives had not yet been invented meant that some of the more deadly terrorist tactics couldn't be used. Supporters of the lawful government in London found their businesses burned down or destroyed. This was especially true if they were in the newspaper business, soon supporters of the lawful government were unable to get their position out before the public. People who sold supplies to or interacted with the British soldiers soon had rocks thrown through their windows with the notice to quit doing that or the next time it'd be a firebomb. Prominent supporters of the British position were tarred and feathered and run out of town. "Collaborators" who turned in "Sons of Liberty" terrorists were tarred and feathered then hung, and their possessions burned to deny sustenance to their wife and offspring. The result is that the 33% of colonists who didn't care simply hunkered down and let the "Sons of Liberty" control the political future of the soon-to-be new nation, while the 33% of colonists who supported their lawful government in London were swiftly intimidated, marginalized, and removed as a potential factor.

Now, coming back to the present, the Iraqi insurgency has far more support than the American insurgency had. This does not, in and of itself, mean a military victory over them is impossible. But it does mean that a military victory is impossible WITHOUT KILLING AT LEAST 15% OF THE POPULATION OF IRAQ. I.e., GENOCIDE.

And genocide is one of the things that the U.S. simply doesn't do in the modern era.

Of course, I thought that invading countries that hadn't attacked us was something that the U.S. simply doesn't do in the modern era, and was proven wrong. I thought that torturing prisoners was something that the U.S. simply doesn't do in the modern era, and was proven wrong. I thought that imprisoning American citizens without charges was something that the U.S. simply doesn't do in the modern era, and was proven wrong. So I might be proven wrong about the U.S. not doing genocide in the modern era, too. But I sure hope the hell not.

-- Badtux the Military History Penguin


  1. Great history lesson, unfortunately people do not care about history.

    Even Cheney, who was against an invasion of Iraq during the first gulf war, he agreed that civil war and distabaliztion would occur, does not remember the recent past.

    But when money is involved people get stupid. Hence the US re-electing Mr. tax cut.

  2. It's people like YOU that cause the troops to lose their assurance of doing a good job! Because of YOU the war in Iraq is taking longer to win. YOU should be ashamed of yourself. YOU should be moving out of USA. YOU are no PATRIOT!!

    How did that read? Did I sound like a nutjob?


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