I was at the Solidaridad Bookstore in Padre Faura the other day and one of the books that caught my eye was the book “Victorious Insurgencies: Four Rebellions That Shaped Our World” written by Anthony James Joes. The author looked into the experience of 4 successful insurgencies – the Maoists in China, the Viet Minh against the French in Indochina, the Castro forces against Batista in Cuba and the Afghan mujahideen against Russia in Afghanistan.
Since a successful insurgency means a failed counterinsurgency, what then are the lessons from the perspective of counterinsurgency? According to the author, a successful insurgency happens because 4 “failures” or blunders on the part of the counterinsurgent:
1. Failure to provide quality military leadership. – The counterinsurgent underestimates the enemy and deploys poorly trained or even corrupt military leaders in the field.
2. Failure to provide their adversaries a path to peace. – The counterinsurgent fails to offer the insurgents a sustainable and durable nonviolent process to redress grievances. Most of the insurgencies were fueled by a lack of clear alternative to war.
3. Failure to prevent outside assistance. – All of the successful insurgencies studied were successful because of unimpeded assistance from interests and parties outside of the conflict to the insurgents.
4. Failure to commit sufficient forces to the conflict. – The counterinsurgent commits “woefully insufficient forces to the conflict”, i.e. the forces “cannot simultaneously isolate the battle area, defend what must be defended and carry out disruptive operations.”