Skip to comments.Bush Adopts British (Malayan) Colonial Model For Iraq
Posted on 12/02/2005 5:49:01 PM PST by blam
Bush adopts British colonial model for Iraq
By Alec Russell in Washington
The success of British colonial forces against the Malay rebellion in the 1950s is being commended in the United States as a template for victory in Iraq.
Col Andrew Krepinevich, a Vietnam veteran, has been touring congressional offices, the Pentagon and newspapers since autumn espousing an "oil spot strategy".
An American soldier hands out colouring books to Iraqi children
This week President George W Bush all but formally endorsed a modified version of that approach as official policy.
Rather than focus on hunting down the enemy, the American-led coalition forces should be concentrating on securing specific towns and making life so good there that no one will want to support the insurgents, Col Krepinevich argues.
In time, the success will spread slowly outwards as if from an "expanding oil spot" or ink blot, as happened in Malaya. "You focus on a spot segment by segment, area by area," he said.
With despair becoming the predominant American reaction to events in Iraq, the colonel's argument has been seized on by the White House and the US ambassador in Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.
It is cited approvingly by liberal and conservative newspapers and some generals have also approved, although the implicit criticism of strategy to date has inevitably had a cool reception.
Col Krepinevich, the executive director of a Washington military think-tank, the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, described the generals' reaction.
"It has ranged from 'Very interesting, right on, this is just what we should be doing. . .' to 'Don't worry, we are already doing this. No need to fret. We're securing the population. We're defeating the insurgents.' "
He added: "I guess the third reaction is, 'This is too late.' "
Col Krepinevich agreed that there were many differences between Iraq and British-run Malaya. "The British controlled the government in Malaya," he said, "whereas whatever approach we take we have to negotiate with the Iraqis. They have to be full partners in the strategy."
Also it took almost a decade to crush the Malayan insurgency. Generals accept from the US military's experience in the Philippines that rebellions classically take a decade to eliminate but, with more than 2,100 American soldiers killed since the invasion in March 2003, the public is unwilling to tolerate an open-ended commitment. While not acknowledging a shift of strategy, the Bush administration is clearly moving to adopt something close to the oil spot concept.
In his formal enunciation on Wednesday of a strategy for "victory", the president stressed that the focus was to "clear, hold and build": clear an area of insurgents, secure it then win over residents by ensuring that it has a functioning infrastructure.
That was very different from the original strategy after the fall of Baghdad. It focused on raiding an enemy stronghold, killing or capturing insurgents then moving on to the next target.
James Jeffrey, the state department's chief policymaker for Iraq and the senior adviser to Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, said the clear, hold and build strategy had had a range of influences. He added that the United States had been following it for a year.
"We have been pursuing this now since the summer of last year," he told The Daily Telegraph. "Fallujah [the former insurgent stronghold recaptured in a bloody battle in November last year] in particular was key, because after it was cleared it was then held in a sophisticated way by Iraqi forces and US marines.
"We brought the population back. . . then went down the list of everything - schools, medical centres, sewerage, water, roads, electricity, the whole gamut of services - to give the population a sense that they had a future."
However, critics of the Pentagon argue that its original approach still predominates.
Sen John McCain, the maverick pro-war Republican, said last month that the Pentagon badly needed to change its strategy. He cited the oil spot idea as an alternative approach.
"In their attempt to secure all of Iraq, coalition forces engage in search and destroy operations to root out insurgent strongholds with the aim of killing as many as possible," he said.
"But our forces cannot hold the ground indefinitely and when they move on to fight other battles the insurgent ranks replenish and the strongholds fill again. Our troops must then re-enter the same area and re-fight the battle."
His solution is unpopular: send more troops, a route taken by the British in Malaya in the early 1950s.
However, the administration's hope is that the fledgling Iraqi forces will do the legwork.
You've gotta be kidding me. Even the UK press has picked up that line?
(Denny Crane: "I Don't Want To Socialize With A Pinko Liberal Democrat Commie.Say What You Like About Republicans. We Stick To Our Convictions. Even When We Know We're Dead Wrong.")
We've been using the "oil spot" strategy all year in Western Iraq. McCain simply picked up on it. The Fourth Rail has been reporting on it.
And now Bill is reporting on it through Threats Watch
Roman model worked pretty good.
No no no, by "line" I mean prefacing every reference to McCain with the moniker "maverick."
Actually the majority of guerilla movements have failed. You tend to hear about the sucessful ones though.
"It is cited approvingly by liberal and conservative newspapers........"
There is more than one conservative newspaper??????
You seem to forget that the communist insurgency in South Vietnam was defeated by U.S. and RVN forces. South Vietnam fell to an invasion of conventional forces no different than the German Blitzkrieg in WWII Europe.
And then there was El Salvador, Guatemala, etc.
Actually, pacifying Germany after WWII took years. Ultimately, it worked out, until Gerhard Schroeder, that is.
"I think the Malay victory is actually the only victory against guerrilla forces in recorded history."
The Phillipine Insurrection was countered by the US
Germany was pretty pacified after WWII... in fact, it was totally decimated. There was no real will to fight left.
At what point does the word "maverick," in reference to McCain, dry up and blow away from overuse?
The man is no "maverick." He is pro-McCain in his every action.
The "emergency" in Malaya ended when the Brits gave Malaysia independence in 1957, taking away one of the communist forces main recruiting tools ("liberation" from "colonialism").
However, once rid of the Brits and the "humiliation" of western occupation (little thanks for the role of allied forces during WW2), the Malaysian pendulum swung the other way and went on to turn its back on the western ideals of equality and soon declared itself an islamic state and institutionalized islamic religious apartheid under its "bumiputra" system.
Mahathir, hating all things western and especially British, went on and employed his "look east policy" sucking up to the Japanese, while taking every opportunity to verbally attack the west (the Brits and the US in particular) and cast "Europeans" and Jews as evil bloodsuckers.
At the very minimum, we defeated the Viet Cong in Vietnam, and the French defeated the NLF in Algeria. Both were lost to political decisions after the fact.
A number of things the British had going for them was that the Chinese population was easily isolated from native Malays, by the end of the thing the guerillas were left starving in the jungle. They could also use independence as an easy incentive for the Malays to get their act together. It also picked up when they properly coordinated police and military actions, for the first few years they acted largely independent.
OK let me correct you. The successful guerilla insurgency is extremely rare... most of them took to guerilla tactics in the first place because they lost the straight-up fights.
Name one guerilla insurgency that succeeded without the direct sponsorship of a major power.
Not true Magoo.