David Mamet: Hands Off My Gun

Started Jan 26, 2013 | Discussions thread
Chato
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Re: I asked a simple question
In reply to Sante Patate, Feb 2, 2013

Sante Patate wrote:

Chato wrote:

A ​very simple question.

If small arms cannot resist a modern army, ​What about the Vietnamese, the Afghans, the Iraqi's ​and quite a few others?

OFCOL. The circumstances in which guerillas can overcome a modern army have been pretty well worked out for 70 years or so, and small arms have nothing to do with it.

For a start, the guerillas must have a fully-equipped army backing them up - logistics, tanks, artillery, aircraft, anti-aircraft guns the whole shebang. As Mao pointed out, guerilla war cannot remain a hide-in-the-jungle hit-and-run war indefinitely: if you are going to take and hold large areas of the country there has to be stage of conventional war with large-unit battles, and for that you must have a modern army.

This is all very silly. Mao had no such army to begin with, any more then the Iraqi's had such an army. Gurrilla war leads to the creation of such armies. The only real criteria, is the support of the people.

Dave

That was true of the Vietnamese resistance to the French and the Americans and the Afghan resistance to the Russians. ​ Otherwise, the insurgency cannot get past the stage of a militarily insignificant irritant - the French and Italian resistance in 1943-4, eg.

A second critical factor is whether the insurgency has overwhelming mass popular support. The British were able to defeat the Communist insurgency in Malaya because there were only about 8000 insurgents and they were overwhelmingly ethnic Chinese of urban origin who had little or no support from the rural Malay population. The ability of the government to meet the community's needs is critical in generating mass support: groups like the Taliban and the Viet Cong are supported because they provide honest and efficient administration, not because people support their social or political agenda.

And under optimal circumstances, it is still, typically, touch and go. The British still defeated the Boers in South Africa, and the point about Vietnam, eg, is not that the Vietnamese won, but that they nearly lost. They had everything going for them: external support supplying heavy weapons, the overwhelming support of the population, terrain that made it harder for the Western army they were fighting to bring its superiority in weapons to bear, and there was not even the ghost of an effective indigenous government. But it still took them nearly 30 years to defeat the French and the Americans, and at many points they were in trouble and would have accepted a negotiated settlement that gave them much less than victory.

And you are ignoring the fact that in all those countries, with exactly the same number of guns in the hands of the population, there were governments that could suppress insurgencies: Saddam Hussein, the Vietnamese communists, the Taliban. The difference is that it is not the army and guns that suppress insurgencies, it is intelligence and the secret police.

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