Monday, 16 November 2015
The Paris Attacks and how Guerre Révolutionnaire can help us understand- and counter- terror.
Despite the horror of the terror attack it is not the last of such to occur, I believe that we will see a similar development globally. And, it is a perfectly logical and legitimate attack in the mind of the guerilla fighter.
I will outline his methods below.
Let me first quote the father of modern guerilla; Mao Tse-Tsung, "It is a weapon that a nation inferior in arms and military equipment may employ against a more powerful aggressor nation".
When there is some sort of (perceived) repression, the ground is ripe for a reaction. Sometimes and somewhere that reaction will be militant.
This will often happen if the repressor is unwilling to find a political solution and give concessions or is perceived to be so.
The natural resort of the repressed will then be to employ guerilla to liberate themselves. The course of action thereafter can be divided into phases.
Mao uses the following:
1. Arousing and organizing the people.
2. Achieving internal unification politically.
3. Establishing bases.
4. Equipping forces.
5. Recovering national strength.
6. Destroying enemy's national strength.
7. Regaining lost territories.
Practically, Ho Chi Min and Giap organized this into five phases:
1. Propagandists and agitators start a subterranean work in the population. They are attentive to and receptive of dissatisfaction with the legal authorities (those imposed by the reigning system, it may be the occupation authorities as well but we will refer to them as legal authorities hereafter) and the pervading social conditions.
Their primary task is recognisance and they are thus careful not to call attention to themselves by revolutionary rhetoric. Instead, they can start discussion groups and clubs, for example, where their ideas can be debated and discussed. In the current Islamic vs The West conflict, Mosques, Islamic schools and- most of all- social media.
2. When these agitators has ensured local support they start to organise activists in groups according to age, profession or interests, it does not matter as long as they are organised. These groups have the task of surveying each-other and the individuals in them, in the political work and are themselves surveyed by committees. The goal of this organisation is to enmesh the individual tightly in a network of parallel hierarchies. Or rather new hierarchies organised and depending on the rebels/partisans/freedom fighters/resistance. One hierarchy is territorial; starting with the family, city block, farm etc. and is subject to various levels of a hierarchy topped by the rebels' provincial government. Another hierarchy is based on the above organisations, it incorporates male and female youth groups, mother's groups, peasant organisations, workers' organisation and any conceivable organisation the rebels can think of organising their subjects in. The imperative is that no one escapes being spun into the new parallel hierarchies where the territorial one "crosses" an organisational one surveying it that it itself surveys. To engage and organise the individual politically and generally and to ensure that there is always an eye kept on it in every aspect of its life. In the current global conflict, this differs slightly as this is a religious conflict while the Communist insurrections of the anti-colonial area were atheists. But there is a parallel to the religious hierarchy governing the life of the “Faithful”, and the various political organisations based on Sharia they are part of. But also family and clan organisation and loyalties is very important here, and these are based on a code of (dis)honour and upheld by slander and snitching. No one in the Middle- East is free of it, and no Moslem immigrant in a Danish or French ghetto is either- though some ignore it. It, with the religious codex and Sharia, is a very strong and successful social control.
This is where organised resistance to the legal authorities starts spreading, a process referred to by the French as "pourrissement" (rot/rotting); as a subterranean network of spies and agitators starts spreading and channel dissatisfied elements into the movement while they assert pressure- economical and physical pressure (by violence)- on the authorities' supporters and neutral persons to spread terror. Those pressured will consequently be frightened from further supporting the authorities. Those authorities that will often only discover the ripples on the surface of the water created by the dissidents at this stage (the guerrilla thrive, struggle and live in the population like the fish does in the sea as aptly described by Mao "The people are the sea and the guerrilla fighter the fish"). The ripples being the various signs of discontent and lacking support of the authorities.
This, then, suddenly places the authorities in a struggle to maintain authority and governing as the rebel network, organisation and hierarchy will have supplanted legal rule in many places and compete with them in many others. Further, the rebels are now able to escalate the number of agitators, saboteurs and terrorists from their safe bases; i.e., the havens of safety where their rule has totally supplanted the legal one. In the Islamist struggle versus the West they are aplenty in their so-called Kalifate, Sahel, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, there are also neighbourhoods in European cities not under government control, and they work the same. Hence, terrorist cells are planted or organised in local Moslem population of the West.
3. Armed gangs are raised for smaller actions such as ambushes on government patrols and raids on isolated police posts. The agitation, sabotage and terror started in the last phase is stepped up in intensity and the latter proves itself the most powerful tool in the rebels’ arsenal. Terror can be both indiscriminate and selective; a bomb in a cafe with supporters of both sides will create an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety (which is ripe ground for agitation and recruitment- and polarises the situation as neutrals seek the extremes on both sides). And it challenges the authorities' ability to govern and protect the population- and showcasing that inability to do so; while assassination of the authorities local representatives and selected supporters (or perceived such) will have the same effect with the added benefit that it will make people hesitate to support authorities or accept working for them. Attacks on symbols of the enemy and his ideology is important in this phase as well; be it the American Embassy in Saigon, ancient monuments in Palmyra, World Trade Centre or a night club. In the current struggle, terrorist cells start attacking such targets in the West. These can be the organised sort like Madrid, London, Mumbai, Charlie Hebdo or 13-11, or encouraging “lone wolfs”/madmen to strike alone.
4. Terrorism and guerrilla force the legal authorities to wholly give up on certain areas where the rebels can subsequently create their own provisional governments and further step up the work to mobilise the population and achieve international recognition. Powers of friendly disposition towards the rebels can be in the van of such recognition and the campaign to recognise them; and can now supply them with arms etc. and a regular rebel army can now be created. In the current struggle obviously, “the Kalifate” is such an area, but areas of Nigeria, Pakistan, Sahel, Yemen, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan are also outside of government control locally. And in a broader context extremist/conservative Islamic states also exists. The Gulf States and Iran just for starters. Some of whom play the role as our allies while financing Jihadist movements.
5. The last phase of the rebellion is a general, all-out offensive against the weakened authorities who are now ready for the death-knell. In the current struggle, when enough territory is united under Islamist rule, the Jihad to conquer “Dar al-Harab/Dar al-Garan” (House of War and House of the West respectively) and “Dar al-Kufr” (House of the Infidel), will be launched to give the death-knell to the West (and others, China, India and Russia are not friendly to Islam), and unite the world under one faith.
The rebel movement will be freely able to switch back and forth between the various phases and the individual struggle is too complicated and sophisticated to be covered by such a generalised model. However, it can provide a framework for the individual struggle to be studied within.
It is of great importance to recognise some aspects of guerrilla.
There is no difference between soldier and civilian in such a struggle. To differentiate would weaken the movement by taking away assets and resources from it, Mao says "Considering the revolutionary war as a whole, the operations of the people's guerrillas and those of the main forces of the Red Army complement each other like a man's right arm and left arm, and if we had only the main forces of the Red Army without the people's guerrillas, we would be like a warrior with only one arm". The struggle is also not about territory as in classical warfare but rather concerns the mind of the people. Even the regular forces of the movement must hence have a fourfold task to accomplish; to serve as political and military education (and conditioning) for the soldier and administrator, to create and spread propaganda in the population, to serve as a tool for exerting pressure on the opposition and, lastly; as a tool for warfare. Concurrently, tasks usually undertaken by the military; intelligence gathering and logistics, is performed by the civilian sector. However, the border between soldier and civilian is permeable; a teenager can throw stones at soldiers and a young mother is ideal for smuggling explosives. All while this is going on a struggle for support in the repressor's population as well as internationally is undertaken in order to mobilise support and weaken the backing of his struggle. Generally the repressor/legal authority will be weakened to such an extent before the final blow in phase 5 that the outcome of that is already given. In the current struggle the European left follow an ideology that makes them sympathetic to the plight of a Moslem world dominated by the former colonial overlords, and formerly used in the struggle of the Cold War. While the same left is also hostile to International Activism, capitalism, Realist international politics, government politics in their homelands and the US. Meanwhile the horrors of the Nazis and colonialism, and the decolonisation struggles, has made Europe reluctant to embark on aggressive wars as they would in the colonial era. Further, in rich, content states with high-tech weaponry; such as in the West, no one is willing to risk their lives unless absolutely necessary.
So as you see (if you are still reading), terror is a perfectly legitimate tool of the guerrilla as it holds a powerful sway over the mind of the population that are fought over. Terror is one of the only weapons available to the weak and oppressed to fight off the strong aggressor. Worse still; the only military solution to counter a guerrilla campaign is an even more bloody countercampaign. To scourge the countryside of all possible guerrilla fighters, round them up and kill or imprison them. Which is not really an option for a civilised country, as it will cost civilian lives. The only other solution is political or political-military and involves negotiations and concessions; i.e. giving the insurgent, what he wants. In this case the Islamists- I am actually uncertain what they want, but I am rather certain it is not something pleasant for anyone involved except the Mullahs/Imams/Ayatollahs…
So how does the model/analysis of Guerrilla Mao, Ho and Giap gives us work on the situation at hand? As stated and described above the model is useful, but I shall elaborate.
Starting with Iran’s Ayatollahs as well as Arab nationalists, there has long been a discourse against the West and “corrupt” Western lifestyle and “vices” in the Middle East. Dissent has spread- even into our own immigrant communities (who in many cases also feel estranged and discriminated against in the greater society). Against global Western military, economic, cultural and political dominance. Not to mention our colonialist pasts. There is also a growing inequality in the world, which fans the flames. And it does not help that we support autocrats in the Middle-East, nor did the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the intervention in Libya or our support for Israel and Israeli settlement policy. We have various reasons for all this, but it does not help; and in some cases, we have to admit in our hearts that they are right in their criticism of us- in some case, but not most.
The agitation has spread- currently helped by social media (a two-edged sword, for the youngsters with Western ideas and sympathies in the Jasmin Revolutions, used them as well)- and both armed resistance in the form of terror, and insurgent bases has popped up. We see their allies support them, and they spread terror amongst both our supporters in the Middle East, doubters and in our own population, while their sympathisers in the West spread dissent by claiming it is our own fault.
Hence we are probably in a sort of Phase Three, but it is really hard to say, and the resistance is not organised in a single, focused organisation. We have Taleban, Al Qaida, DAESH, Iran, and the Gulf States all vying for leadership of the resistance and regional hegemony in- often vicious- infighting.
What can we do about it?
My proposal(s) will be another day. Today was long enough already. But it will be built on Guerre Révolutionnaire. But in brief:
Drones are convenient for lazy buggers not wishing to risk lives as war is the easy solution to dumb chickenhawks- but the REAL solution to take out terrorists is the following counter; intelligence is the key to counter terrorism, all means must be employed and key enemy figures be taken out by small teams of special forces or agents in pinprick operations, while countering their discourse with our own and giving real concessions by enforcing less dicatorial regimes in their homelands and actually trading with them to create jobs. JWB chose something else. Obama choose something else again. Both wrong.
 Tse-tung, M, 1937 Kap. 1
 Tse-Tung, 1938, s. 238