Topics: World War II, Vietnam War, Iraqi insurgency Pages: 5 (1758 words) Published: May 21, 2013
What are the primary factors that must be present for an insurgency to succeed? Are these factors open to attack? Why? Introduction:
“I can understand the military rationale, facing such a horrible enemy, this insurgent, who does not respect any law of war, ...”Jean Ziegler. Insurgents wage war to achieve the same outcome as traditional war combatants. Victory is the desired outcome and it is just the method used that has changed. Instead of conquering your foe by force-on-force engagements insurgence try and exert influence over the home nation’s population. 1 In order to gain support insurgents use persuasive techniques like propaganda, coercion and subversion to influence people’s perceptions of their opponents by discrediting their actions. They may also try alliances with local tribal leaders, warlords, criminal organizations and religious leaders. They may choose to intimidate or eliminate those who stand against them. 2 One thing that insurgence will not do is fight a war in the traditional American sense. That is why American’s have had such a difficult time dealing with this type of enemy. Factors required for successful insurgency:

Core Grievances. What motivates people to rebel against the establishment? It is common for a country to have groups of people who feel upset and even angry over government policies or controls. These feelings may grow into mistrust and even hatred if left unchecked or handled incorrectly. Core grievances are one of the most important factors for any insurgent. 2 Think of it as one of the primary building blocks of influence. Core grievances give the insurgent leader the causes required to motivate the population. During the Cold War, Communism influenced several Latin American countries into insurgency by appealing to the gap between the large poor majority and the small wealthy minority. 1 In 1994, Mexico witnessed the birth of the Zapatista insurgency. Amerindian Mexicans had suffered from a lack of identity and discrimination as a direct result of policies by the current ruling class. This grievance was mishandled by the corrupt Mexican government and as a result is still a problem for them today. 2 These examples of grievances can be categorized as economic, repression, corruption, identity, and essential service. So what other influence or motivator has plagued the US over the past 20 years? Religious fundamentalism has been a powerful catalyst for the rise in extremist groups all over the world. Many of these groups were started in the wake of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan and the spark in religious revival following the end of the Cold War. The US did not see the rise in extremist support as much of a threat and did not have a clear picture of what was being taught. We can now see this lack of a plan to counter this religious grievance has led us into many precarious wars. Vulnerable Population. Having a cause is not enough to get people off the couch and into a fight. Successful insurgency needs, what the Joint Pub describes as a vulnerable population. The population must have a fundamental core grievance, perceived or real, for the insurgents to exploit. 3 During the Vietnam War, the Viet Cong seduced the locals by offering them land ownership and significant reduction in taxes. What the local population failed to realize is that a Viet Cong victory would mean the end of land ownership and their crops would not be taxed but seized for government use. Insurgents need only address grievances until victory is achieved. Leadership. An organizations success or failure can be traced back to its leadership. Influencing a population requires guidance, vision and goals. This can be done through one dynamic leader or through collective leadership. These leaders must be committed to their cause in the face of overwhelming odds to be successful. They must be, as Steven Metz put it, “true believers”. The Muslim extremist movement is a...
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