Saturday, March 31, 2007
Three Strikes, You're Out
From "Iraq’s Militias: The True Threat to Coalition Success in Iraq", in Parameters, the Army War College's quarterly journal:
But while religious extremism may typify the average insurgent, the biggest threat to American policy is not posed by the jihadist, who in most cases, lacks the ability to organize, effectively train and recruit forces (other than suicide bombers), and has no long-term strategy for generating resources, garnering public support, or achieving realistic strategic goals. The real hazard to American objectives in Southwest Asia comes from armed and active militias who, unlike most insurgents, have served as career soldiers, seized the support of their populace, and, in many cases, infiltrated national government institutions.
Though a form of resistance, militiamen are far different in nature than insurgents or terrorists. In the long-term, militias are most damaging because they weaken government influence by providing unofficial (and effective) security in localized areas using illegal methods. Due to the support they receive from their constituents and the resultant political power they wield, militias can only be neutralized through state-sponsored Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) initiatives.
Unfortunately, the DDR initiative outlined in the article depends on three components that seem to be lacking in Iraq: the political will to disband the militias, the economic conditions necessary to reintegrate militia members into civilian employment, and the re-establishment of security to obviate the perceived need for "private", non-state security agents.