Thursday, January 14, 2010

The False Grandeur of Partisan Warfare

Or..."Where there is no Political or Religious Will, there is no victory against the Guerrilla."

In today's modern world, there is a false and undeserved legend and body of myth around guerrilla warfare and how it is unbeatable, able to bring down mighty super powers, global empires and interstellar consortiums. The problem is, it is a myth, or rather it is a reality of today's warfare not because quality of the national troops set against the partisans but because of the lack of political will and religious fervor in the nation who owns those soldiers.

The job of the guerrilla is quite simple: inflict enough casualties on the standing enemy till he finally accepts that the cost of occupation is not worth the prize. Meanwhile the guerrilla must not take to many casualties that he, himself ceases to exist or matter. If you have an angry and fractured population, backed up by a radical faith that idolizes religious warfare and violent death, all the better.

On the other hand, if you are facing a foe who is lack luster in his own faith, at best, or faithless at worst, who is spoiled by the "good" life and who sees no reason to be there, outside the profit of a few hundred elites, than the job is that much easier.

As a battlefield "success" the guerilla is anything but. If used in combination with a standing army, the guerilla can be a major force multiplier, tieing down enemy formation that would otherwise be at the front and disrupting supply and communications, as well as demoralizing the enemy. This is exactly the roll that was played by the Spanish peasants, from whom the term guerilla warfare or "little" warfare, comes from, during Wellington's Peninsular Campaign. This is also the role played by Russian partisans in both the Napoleanic Invasions and to a much greater role against Hitler's Axis forces.

However, when facing a determined enemy by themselves, the guerilla will always loose, so long as a basic principal is followed by the occupier: seperate the partisan from the people. Mao wrote that the guerilla must swim through the people as a fish through water. This is because, without a local population supplying food, clothing, shelter, information and most importantly cover, as well as replacements, the guerilla, who usually suffers 10 to 1 losses, is doomed.

Examples of these are many. Chechnya in the 1700s and early 1800s was a patchwork of clans raiding for Russians, Georgians, Ossessian, Armenians (all Christians) for slaves to sell to the Turk and Persian. The Russian empire practiced counter punitive raids for almost a hundred years, with little results. Finally, under the strong rule of Nicholas I, a new strategy was taken. Russian Cossaks, of the Tarek Host, settled the Tarek River basin, in what is now northern Chechnya. They built a series of forts across the north. The Tsar's armies moved in in force, building roads, burning forests and demolishing villages. They relocated the Chechen peoples near forts to civilize them and keep an eye on them. Then, the Tsar demanded that each noble family, first in Chechnya and than in the whole of the Caucuses, send its oldest son for a ten year stint to St.Peterburg to serve as a special host/guard of the Imperial Guard.

When these half savages went, they travelled the length of Russia, which helped them realize just how giant a country they were fighting and how few they were themselves. When they arrived in St.Peterburg, a giant modern city, it was in sharp contrast to their small villages and fortresses. There, at the royal barracks, they were settled, given a stipend, a full modern education and put in service to the Tsar. They were allowed to go home on leave, where they told their families all about the empire and its wealth and strength. After ten years, they were given officer's rank and pay and sent home to organize a local militia for the Tsar. In effect, after numerous generations of this, and starting with the first, the Tsars created a pro-Russia faction of established men in the local community, many of whom had converted to Christianity.

Americans are a seperate extreme in dealing with guerillas, in this case the American Indians. To conquer the populations, the Americans first steadily drove the Indians off their lands, be they ally or enemy with one treaty after another. When warfare broke out, they destroyed what portions of the population they could and forced the remainder onto reservations. Those tribes who resisted were first starved, for which the gigantic herds of American baison, numbering in the millions, were exterminated. If resistance persisted, the American military simply exterminated those tribes. That is why there are more Daghistanis, Chechens and Ingusheties alive in Russia than American Indians in the US, even though at one point they outnumbered the Caucasian tribes by a factor of 50 to 1.

Many other examples abound, such as the Indonesian proxy war against the Malaysians or the English war against the Boars.

The key in all this is to first separate the people from the guerrilla. This can be done either viciously, by whole sale extermination, as practiced by Nazi or by more humane relocation. An excellent example of this is the lost Ten Tribes of Israel, who were taken by the Assyrians and dispersed in foreign lands, believed by many to be in modern Pakistan. Stalin also did this to the Chechens in 1944, after they sided with the Nazis during Hitler's drive on Stalingrad. They were dispersed throughout the Soviet Union.

By resettling the population in a new area, rebellion is forestalled as the population must regain its barrings. Often they are surrounding by peoples of different ethnic groups who hold little sympathy for them. Dispersal is even more powerful, making them a minority everywhere and thus unable to unify or offer support for the guerrillas.

The open and depopulated areas are then declared free fire zones, where anything moving that does not belong to the military is killed. Artillery fires harassment fire randomly, helicopter and fixed wing aviation attack targets of opportunity and all buildings are destroyed, while infantry mount active combat patrols. Soon, the guerrillas are so preoccupied with mere survival that they are no longer in position to actually mount combat missions.

Taking hostages and or executing them has mixed results. It worked for the British against the Boers, when the British grabbed the Boer families and put them in concentration camps, where many thousands died, until the Boer guerrilla bands surrendered. It failed miserably for the Germans in Greece and Yugoslavia, where they would shoot five to ten civilians for every soldier killed and yet in Yugoslavia alone suffered 750,000 killed and wounded, over 4 years.

Another powerful tool is propaganda aimed at having the locals buy into the occupier's civilization. You want them to become like you, to assimilate your culture and thus take away a reason to rebel. If successful, the locals will begin to look at their brothers the guerrillas as bandits, radicals and fools, throw backs to a primitive past. The most powerful way to accomplish this is to convert the population to your faith.

Of course to do this, the occupying culture must be strong, hard working, rigid, homogeneous and religious. A culture built on vice, laziness, post-belief and spineless nihilism will hardly have anything to offer anyone in its own population, let alone a rebelling one. This is why the West is hopelessly lost in such situation.s

When dealing with Islamics, forced, whole sale conversion to Christianity must become the norm. Do it twice, since after the second apostasy, a Muslim can not return to the Islamic faith and must be put to death by his own people. This way, an instant, desperate and loyal population is created.

For all of these issues, the occupying power must have the political and religious will to impose such an end game upon the population or face a protracted, unwinnable war that will only result in defeat for the occupier as well as untold horror and death for the occupied.

On a side note, when grabbing a country or territory with multiple factions, the very worst thing to do is to stay neutral, as no one will ever believe you are neutral and each side will suspect or "see" you as the ally or collaborator of its enemy factions. In this way, the occupier becomes the target of everyone. Choose a side and prop it up as a vassal, giving it absolute backing and power to enforce YOUR will. Of course, choose wisely for you must stick with that side and its leaders, no matter what. The worst example of this is the Americans, who choose poorly, get sick of their choice and then either dispose of them or allow them to be disposed of for a "better" choice. Examples of this can be found in American policies in Vietnam, Pakistan, Iraq, and recently in the Afghan elections. Such stupid actions show all sides concerned that not only is the occupier choosing sides, but that even those allied to him can never really trust him, thus there is no living with him no matter what.

Thus the solutions are actually quite simple and clear, one must only have the iron will to carry them out, something many countries today, and the West in particular, do not. Our own Russia has shown only a lack luster will in Chechnya. While I despise Stalin, I can tell my dear readers this: when Stalin rounded up and dispersed first the Chechens and then the Crimean Tartars, there were no incidents of anyone opening fire on the military, they were all very well aware of what the results would be.


vonbach said...

I wouldn't go praising the Soviets actions during ww2. The acts committed by the Soviets during and after ww2 will stain Russia for millennium.

Max said...

Would you praise allies in WW2? "The acts committed by US during WW2 will stain them for millenium"?

USSR biggest crimes are against its own citizens. Stalin was the main culprit. Americans atrocities committed against foreign populations rival those of Hitler though.

Cobra said...

Are you kidding?
You have no idea what you are talking about... said...

Great blog.
BTW Max has studied history.

jack said...

Actually Stalin during his reign ordered the death of no more than 1 million people of which about 2/3 rd were actually guilty of crimes and punished/sentenced to death those who used excess measures and killed thousands of civilians during Trotskyite sabotage and plot to conspire to overthrow against the Soviet government prior to WW2. The Gulag penal system did not exceed more than 2 1/2 million.

vonbach said...

"Cough Cough" 2.5 million my eye. 600,000 Hungarian men were shipped off to the Gulags alone. The total death toll was something like 65 million.
No Max has not studied history. Every country the Soviets ever invaded has horrid stories to tell. Like the Hungarians for instance say "god save us from another "liberation." The crimes of the Soviet union are so great it could be a blog in itself. Suffice to say Putin
was correct in calling Stalin rule "unacceptable."
Its like saying the sun is "a little hot."

Stanislav said...


65 million my arse. 60 million died in all of WW2 and 28 million of those were in the Soviet Union. Hell, why stop at a fantasy 65, why not a 100 or 300 or 500 million?

If half of the 65 were Russians, that would mean every fourth or fifth person was shot, hardly believable.

If the other 35 million were from Poland, the Baltics and Hungary, there would have been a huge population drop. Yet there weren't. All of Nazi Germany recorded 8 million dead civilians of which 6 million were killed by American and UK terror firebombing of every single German city and town of any real size.

As for the Hungarian men, the Hungarians were not "liberated" they were conquered, since they, just like the Italians were a strict ally of Hitler.

racketmensch said...

I don't have any quarrel with your theory of insufficient will against fourth generation opponents, but I don't think the U.S. has had "winning" as a goal since WWII, but simply occupation, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those that benefit from these adventures have no skin in the game and are not at all inconvenienced by the losses on either side. As far as they are concerned, the worse, the better.

I would be interested in knowing your thoughts concerning the last Soviet adventure in Afghanistan. Simply a lack of will?

jack said...


Where does that number come from?

Any documented evidence of this?

Professor Stephen Wheatcroft Soviet historian University of Melbourne.

“Repression and mass killings carried out by German and Soviet leaderships during the period 1930-45 differed in several respects. It appears that the German leader Adolf Hitler put to death at least five million innocent people mainly because of his antipathy towards Jews and communists. In contrast, Soviet leader Josef Stalin ordered the murder of some one million people because he apparently believed them to be guilty of crimes against the state. He was careful about documenting these executions whereas Hitler did not bother about making any pretence at legality.”

The scale and nature of German and Soviet Repression and mass-killings, 1930-1945", Europe and Asia Studies, Vol.48, no.8, 1996, pp. 1319-1353

vonbach said...

The casualty estimates I've heard for ww2 are 80-100 million. The 65 million covers everything in the Soviet Union's history including the holomodor. Thats what 10 million right there. That doesn't include the Germans who died after the war. Those casualties number into the millions too. Even the conservative estimates for Stalin's Reign are something like 30-40 million. There is a difference between what Stalin did and giving the muslims a pointed lesson in manners now and again.

vonbach said...

A few things I feel I have to get off my chest. As far as the western allies behavior during WW2. FDR and Ike were both war criminals and should've been hung. The strategic bombing campaign was a war crime and should have been treated as such.
As far as the actions of the Soviet Union staining Russia for a millennium. The leaders of the Soviet Union during ww2 were not even Russian as far as I know. Stalin wasn't even Russian hew was a Georgian of Khazar decent I believe. The Russian people are getting blamed for acts that in a lot of cases were not committed by ethnic Russians. Some of the things I've read show a drastic difference in the behavior and conduct of ethnic russian and non Russian troops.

jack said...


Suprised you have not done a piece on the upcoming election in Ukraine.


The Holomodor forced famine hoax was bunked at the time a being part of William Randoplh Hearsts pro-fascist media campaign series against the USSR who used Red Cross images from the 21-22 Volga famine against the USSR and phoney journalists who had personal relations and contacts with top Nazi officials and who’s foreign news service the International News Service would provide international news to Nazi Germany.
“It appears likely that hundreds of thousands, possibly one or two million, Ukrainians died -- the minority from starvation, the majority from related diseases.”

The estimates range from 1 million to 10 million deaths that include areas of Russia and Kazakhstan most from disease, a minority from actually starvation.

"Even the conservative estimates for Stalin's Reign are something like 30-40 million"

This main stream nonsense has been debunked by people who have studied the archives since the fall of Communism.

I this was true Germany would have breezed into Russia and Soviet production would have been non existent as there would not have been anyone to man the factories.