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Insurgency in America

Imagine sitting in your home. Imagine the street and the city around you. Imagine the look of the cars, some are beat up, some are brand new. Think of the street signs, the look of the street lamps, the plants and the vegetation.

Now imagine you are in a major city in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you think everything is radically different, you are wrong. The street signs look different and the people wear different clothes, but a side from a few inconsequential details, the cities are indistinguishable. Lots of people, lots of cars and lots of buildings.

And Iraq, Afghanistan and America all have insurgencies.

In America, the insurgents blend into society. Some parts of the society house them, aid them and give them money. You and your fellow citizens want your town to be free from the “insurgents.” The government passes legislation against the insurgents and harsh fines for aiding them. In America, insurgents do not actively try to overthrow the government, but they skirt its laws. Of course, I am not referring to terrorist extremists but to criminals, mainly drug dealers.

The drug dealer analogy is eerily accurate. They blend into society. They corrupt police agencies at the local level. The legal system is against them, but many civilians in the population support them. The War on Drugs started well before the Global War on Terror. You could argue that drug dealers and gangs in America are less openly violent than the Iraqi insurgents, but in Mexico they are more violent.

This analogy illustrates that insurgency is a completely different style of warfare, one without uniforms or territory to take and hold. Killing your enemy is the easy part; finding the insurgent is difficult, convincing the population not to support him is near impossible. Some have argued against treating terrorists like criminals, but on the insurgency battlefield this is the perfect analogy.

One comment

Mike, It’s been awhile but I’m glad you’re alive and well, and I’m glad you posted this blog. You say America had/has no idea how to conduct counter-insurgency warfare. Does any country conduct counter-insurgency well? How many other countries are as deeply invovled in a counter-insurgency situation as the United States (Israel I suppose)? My point is, is there anything to learn from military forces which face insurgents and are actually good at it (no offense)? I mean, even Israel used something like an “overwhelming firepower” strategy when they went to Gaza recently. Is the optimal strategy to fight a conventional war until you are fighting primarily insurgents, then send in what amounts to a military police force patrol the streets?