The (Insurgent) Campaign For Liberty

The term ‘insurgent’ has been used (and misused) a whole lot since about ten minutes after the officially announced ‘end’ of the Iraq War.

Lucky for us, the US Army Special Forces Counterinsurgency Field Manual

(the book that ‘Surgin’ General’ Petraeus is said to have ‘written’ on the subject)

contains, along with tips on how to win friends, subvert democracy and destroy due process in an occupied country, a handy field guide to three main types of insurgency.

One of these, in light of the end of Ron Paul’s Republican presidential bid, and the beginning of his new vehicle for change, The Campaign For Liberty, is pretty interesting;

“Foco Insurgency.

A foco (Spanish word meaning focus or focal point) is a single, armed cell that emerges from hidden strongholds in an atmosphere of disintegrating legitimacy. In theory, this cell is the nucleus around which mass popular support rallies. The insurgents build new institutions and establish control on the basis of that support.”

Except for the “armed” part (The Revolution has always been explicitly peaceful and anti-war) and the “establish control” bit, this essentially describes the new strategy – to establish a core group of liberty-loving people and to have them (democratically) infiltrate the current system so that they will be ready to liberate the masses when the corrupt, incompetent Empire falls flat on its face.

“The insurgents build new institutions and establish control on the basis of that support. For a foco insurgency to succeed, government legitimacy must be near total collapse. Timing is critical. The foco must mature at the same time the government loses legitimacy and before any alternative appears. The most famous foco insurgencies were those led by Castro and Che Guevara.”

Bad role models from a philosophical perspective, for sure, but in terms of strategy pretty relevant.

“The distinguishing characteristics of a foco insurgency are The deliberate avoidance of preparatory organizational work. The rationale is based on the premise that most peasants are intimidated by the authorities and will betray any group that cannot defend itself. ”

This part doesn’t apply, because this revolution is peaceful, democratic, and overt, the ‘counter-insurgency’ strategies to this will be completely ineffective. Unfortunately, many other CI strategies are already in place and are well-advanced;

“Restrictions. Rights on the legality of detention or imprisonment of personnel (for example, habeas corpus) may be temporarily suspended. This measure must be taken as a last resort, since it may provide the insurgents with an effective propaganda theme. PRC [Population & Resources Control] measures can also include curfews or blackouts, travel restrictions, and restricted residential areas such as protected villages or resettlement areas. Registration and pass systems and control of … critical supplies such as weapons, food, and fuel are other PRC measures. Checkpoints, searches, roadblocks; surveillance, censorship, and press control…”

You get the picture.

Apparently ‘Counter-Insurgency’ has become ‘Pre-emptive Counter-Insurgency’.

We have our work cut out for us.


2 Responses to “The (Insurgent) Campaign For Liberty”

  1. June 19, 2008 at 7:18 am

    He’s right about Castro et al. And you’re right that the difference lies with the use of violence. But the last part cracks me up in that the existing government must become even less legitimate in the face of the foco! At least he’s following his own advice in the Middle East.

  2. 2 libertyvini
    June 19, 2008 at 8:46 am

    Well, yes, that the existing government, in this scenario is de facto illegitimized only provides a stronger rationale for stronger, even more delegitimizing intervention, in this kind of thinking. Essentially the intervening empire establishes and extends the rationale for its own actions and its very existance, while the “Host Nation” (exactly in the host-parasite sense) is coerced into acting against not only the interests of the people it claims to represent, but ultimately compromising its own interests too. The Iraqis appear to be pushing back against US plans for a permanent CI presence for the reason that they sense a trap, too late I’m afraid.

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