May 30, 2005

Gary Brecher on Iraq

War Nerd on "Iraq: Guerilla Evolution" - Brilliant, as usual. Why isn't the War Nerd on television every week explaining what is going on in Iraq? (Other than that he might not, technically speaking, exist... and that didn't stop Max Headroom.)

Now comes stage two of the insurgency: the flag-waving fools are gone, and it's the survivors in control -- guerrilla evolution, survival of the practical guys who want to win instead of dying gloriously. You see the same pattern with insurgencies in Algeria, Chechnya, Colombia: the martyrs get killed off, and the cold-blooded guerrilla operatives take over.

These guys know that there's only one way to win a guerrilla war: blinding the enemy by killing his spies, his native police force, anybody who cooperates with him. That's what's been happening in Iraq for months now, and nobody understands it. All they notice is that attacks on US troops are down.

Of course they are; they didn't work. Killing US troops was the insurgents' Plan A: "If we put enough bloody GIs' bodies on US TV, the cowardly Yankees will run away!" It was a reasonable idea, considering we pulled out of Somalia after losing only 18 men. But what the insurgents didn't realize was that Americans had toughened up after 9/11. Casualties didn't faze us like they used to. By election time the Iraqi insurgents had killed 1100 GIs, but Bush still won.

Time for Plan B. Plan B is classic guerrilla doctrine: "the long war," where you attack the invaders' local allies, not the foreign troops themselves. The idea is, if you wipe out Iraqi collaborators, the US is just a blind giant. He'll stick around for a while, stumble over the countryside wrecking stuff, but sooner or later he'll get sick of stubbing his toes and go home.

So the insurgents are ignoring the hunkered-down, heavily fortified American bases and hitting the key, soft targets: the Iraqi police. And damn, are they killing a lot of those boys! On one day, May 9, 80 Iraqi police were killed. On average, five cops a day are dying. It's safer selling Bibles door-to-door in Peshawar than strolling through Baghdad in an Iraqi cop suit.

The insurgents' other strategy is using foreign and Iraqi-Sunni suicide bombers against Shia and Kurdish civilians, hoping to set off a civil war. This doesn't seem to be working as well. It rarely does. Just look at Beslan: the Chechens killed all those kids hoping to draw the Ossetians into an all-out war, but all the raid did was ruin whatever was left of the Chechens' rep.

The Kurds and Shia aren't retaliating. Why should they? The whole US-funded military machine is doing that for them. Besides, their casualties in the bombings have been mighty small by Iraqi standards.

The Shia are sitting pretty, laughing at us while they wait for us to leave. Thanks to our obsession with the "democracy" thing, the Shia, who are 62% of the population, are guaranteed to win -- and in the meantime, we're footing the whole bill for their takeover! Sweeeet! Why should they shoot back and queer a great deal like that?

So with the civil-war strategy failing, everything comes down to a long, slow guerrilla war between our cops 'n' soldiers and their suicide bombers and assassination squads. It's going to be an Iraqi vs. Iraqi war from here on. US ops, like the Marines' big search-and-destroy sweep in Anbar, are just sideshows. Sure, they flushed a few foreign guerrillas who fought to the death, yelling about Allah like idiots. But in a guerrilla war, foreigners are hopeless. The game is about fitting in, avoiding detection, and foreigners just can't compete.

That goes for us too. We're never going to be able to pick out the bombers from the shoppers in Baghdad. It all depends on whether we can propagandize, or just bribe, enough Iraqis into doing that for us. [More]

Today in Iraq, the expected high is a spring-like 105 degrees.

One of the oddities of the Iraqi insurgency is that no charismatic leader has emerged from among the Iraqi Sunnis, at least that we know of. We hear a lot about the foreigner Zaraqawi, who is, I hope, dying slowly and painfully at present, but virtually no Iraqis.

Sometimes, a man arises from the chaos to meet the moment. Bonaparte being the most famous example. We could be in real trouble if the insurgents develop a strong leader. On the other hand, a leader would give us somebody to negotiate with. It's not beyond imagination that a settlement could be arrived at in Iraq, but right now there is nobody to negotiate with.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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