RANGER AGAINST WAR: Iraq is ETA and IRA, not Vietnam <

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Iraq is ETA and IRA, not Vietnam

Our press, government and military focus on the U.S. experience of counterinsurgency in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) as analogy to Iraq. This is erroneous and misses the point.

The levels of violence we are now confonting in Iraq are more analogous to the Spanish and British experience with their own home-grown insurgencies than to the U.S. RVN experience. Vietnam was a campaign which had already gone beyond the Low Intensity Conflict (LIC). In fact, an examination of the Basque ETA and the IRA is much more relevant to the current situation in Iraq. The fighting in Iraq has not surpassed British or Spanish models and certainly are not on the same level as RVN.

Both ETA and IRA are indigenous separatists, and therefore similar to the Iraqi separatists. Iraqi separatists cannot be equated with the VC or NVA threat in RVN. The VC approached a military competancy far exceeding anything that can be expected in Iraq. VC units operated at regimental level, and actually fought pitched battles with RVN government forces, the battle of Ap Bia being a prime example.

Both ETA and IRA have political wings. The Iraqi separatists have religious wings that co-opt this function. The mullahs are the heart of these initiatives. The group's goals are analogous to the ETA and IRA, as each wants autonomy within their region. If we would understand what an endgame might look like, we will have to study the right game book.

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