Saturday, July 19, 2003

Much has been made about the supposed "guerrilla war" that is occurring in Iraq. The Media and armchair Generals, many of whom were all but declaring a loosing war or quagmire just two days into the war, are playing up the sporadic and isolated pockets of resistance in what is called the Sunni Triangle. Some are even invoking the curse of Vietnam to make their misconceived point that the US occupation of Iraq is in trouble.

The general definition of guerrilla warfare is operations conducted in enemy held or hostile territory by irregular predominantly indigenous forces. Vladimir Lenin provided a more complete definition by saying "Today as a general rule guerrilla warfare is waged by the worker combatant.... Guerrilla warfare is an inevitable form of struggle at a time when the mass movement has actually reached the point of an uprising and when fairly large intervals occur between the "big engagements" in the Civil War.... It is not guerrilla actions which disorganize the movement, but the weakness of the party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control ."

A general theme that runs through all successful guerrilla campaigns is not so much the tactics used, but rather the idea that an underrepresented majority is seeking to overthrow the power of a controlling minority. If one is to just consider the tactics used and not the totality of the circumstances surrounding the conflict, nearly any army, it could be argued, has engaged in guerrilla warfare. This Confusion is caused by leaving out the element of a popular political goal that leads to the confusion of asymmetric tactics with a popular uprising.

This is important to point out the absurdity of those who are comparing the current tactical situation in Iraq to Vietnam. Most people correctly call the Vietnam Conflict a guerrilla war. In Vietnam, the US was facing a popular movement to overthrow the French colonial yolk with the ultimate goal of unification. To achieve this goal, they used asymmetric warfare which gathered its soldiers from the general population. Those who are pushing to have the administration declare Iraq a guerrilla campaign are seeking to bolster their case that this war should not have been fought and to fabricate a public perception that the country faces the same result as in Vietnam. The fact is, in Iraq, we are facing resistance from a minority of people who tied their futures and success to Saddam. Their only hope is to continue fighting because they have no chance of success in the New Iraq. These people are joined by members of foreign terror organizations who see it as an opportunity to fight the US. The fact that nearly 3/4 of Iraq and the vast majority of Iraq's population support the overthrow of Saddam and the creation of a popularly elected Government makes the possibility of a guerrilla war nearly impossible. Those who claim it is now a guerrilla war are being dishonest and skewing the facts to fit their preconceived notions to cause support for a popular war to cease. These people are placing more soldiers at risk and harming the reputation of the United States.