Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Defeating Insurgency: War of Words Part II

The Declaration

Continuing the project from Tuesday, exploring the war of words in an insurgency and ways to defeat the insurgency using words, today we will explore the meaning of "the declaration." Very few insurgencies go on without the combatants stating the purpose of their actions. Before the "declaration", there are usually books and speeches that outline their general grievances and expectations of the future. Few, if any, actually read these books or treatise until after the "revolution" begins and they must furiously catch up to where the insurgents stand, trying to identify similar trends and statements from other groups to determine their connectivity and operational cooperation.

Once the insurgency begins or the group feels that it is strong enough to act, the insurgents will typically issue a "declaration" that gives a brief outline of their cause, list of grievances and expectations. However, the crafting of the message, the words they use, also have meaning, in and of themselves, and are used to lend confidence to their members, attract additional followers and to identify both those that they are at war with and those that they would like to stay out of the war.

The declaration can be split into five main parts and actually reflects similar political statements by states in the lead up of state on state war:

1) Establishing moral authority to commit war
2) Establishing who the war is on behalf of
3) Establishing the opponent
4) Establishing the neutral parties
5) Establishing the list of grievances

The linguistic style of the declaration is usually written or stated in a manner that will appeal to all three parties involved: the people; the opponent and the neutral parties. Although, it can be said that the declaration is mostly directed inward towards the insurgent group and the people they hope to rally. By the time an insurgency has committed itself to a declaration it has already decided that words or dialogue with the opponent is useless.

It is an accepted fact that insurgencies are never defeated by military means alone, but requires political solutions. It should be accepted that the use of the military is solely for the purposes of attriting the insurgency to negate its voilent power. That attrition cannot, by itself (unless you consider the totalitarian method of reduction through ethnic, religious or other cleansing or extermination), bring insurgents to the table for negotiations, but must be accompanied by political manouvers, wars of words, that also attrit the insurgents ability to attract followers, attrit the ability to maintain peripheral support of sympathizers and demoralizes the insurgents, making them believe that "war is not the answer".

In short, preparing the field for politics to resume.

Clausewitz, On War, Chapter 1, Part 11

11.—The political object now reappears.

Here, now, forces itself again into consideration a question which we had laid aside (see No. 2), that is, the political object of the war. The law of the extreme, the view to disarm the adversary, to overthrow him, has hitherto to a certain extent usurped the place of this end or object. Just as this law loses its force, the political object must again come forward. If the whole consideration is a calculation of probability based on definite persons and relations, then the political object, being the original motive, must be an essential factor in the product.

Insurgencies are not born in a vacuum. Neither do they rise up out of thin air or even begin with an extreme amount of power or force. Typical insurgencies wax and wane depending on their successes on and off the field and how well their political message is accepted over the course of action. Some insurgencies have risen up and created the necessary power to over throw the opponent immediately, but this is only possible if their original message was allowed to circulate unchallenged, inducing large migration of followers to the cause and inducing the forces of their opponent to reject orders, to either join forces with the insurgency or remain "neutral". In either case, whether a long insurgency or a quick overthrow, the insurgents message must attract sufficient followers. The largest influx of supporters occurs at the beginning of an insurgency. After that, the attraction will depend very much on the actions and words of the opponent, the capability of countering the insurgency militarily, but equally, the capability to counter their words and prevent them from shaping the field of battle.

Recalling that the "declaration" of an insurgency has three audiences, each with varying degrees of importance, then the message of the opposition must be aimed at all three of these audiences as well in basically the same degree. Since the "declaration" of the insurgency is the first act to attract the largest amout of possible followers, the opponent's first message must likewise aim at "the people" and must be constructed to immediately counter the insurgents ability to attract.

In order to do so, the opponent must understand all parts of the message, not just the declaration of war and the list of grievances.

Establishing Moral Authority

War is typically seen as a state on state act. In state on state war, the parties declaring war are usually the government and leaders of the state. These governments and leaders obtain their power over the state through various methods. However they obtained power, the fact that they have the power of the state automatically assigns them the power to declare war.

Since insurgents are automatically assigned the role of "not in power", the insurgents do not have the formal power of the state to declare war. Therefore, they must assign or attribute a power to themselves through some other authority, real or perceived. But the secular, physical power to declare war is only one aspect. Not only must they have the secular power, but they must have "moral" authority, or righteousness of cause to do so. Since grievances about power sharing, wealth and land are secular, they cannot be the purveyor of "morality" or "rightousness". There must be an outside source.

"God" as the "Moral Authority"

Using one of the most widely recognized "declarations" as an example, we can ascertain the use of "God" in declarations:

[snip]to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them[snip]

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,

  • "God" is intangible, unassailable by acts of war and unchangeable
  • "God" is the ultimate purveyor of "morality"
  • "God" as the moral authority for the insurgent movement, implies the immorality on the opponent, regardless if the opponent believes in God or not
  • "God" and faith is shared in some form by most cultures
  • "God" expressed in the widest terms as "Nature's God" and the "Creator" seeks to be inclusive of all expressions of faith, thus finds the widest possible audience
    • "God" was not expressed as the trinity, "father, son and Holy Ghost"
    • "God" was not expressed as "through Jesus Christ, the savior"
    • "God" was not expressed through the recognized terms of any church

  • The power of "God" trumps the power of "man"
  • Takes the power of "God" from the opponent
    • Most state actors were queens and kings who considered their inheritence of the throne to be "ordained by God"
    • Queens and Kings are crowned in the church to seal this ordination
    • The state controlled the church and thus expressions of faith and "God"
    • State control of the church was used to abuse and persecute
    • Rejecting the Queen or King as a power or representative of the church or "God"
    • The act of declaring "God" as a moral power for "all men" rejected the king or queen as ruler by ordination of "God"

    All of these statements were conveyed in two sentences containing an expression of "God".

    Most insurgencies that declare "God" as the power of moral authority do so for most, if not all, of these reasons. In fact, the use of faith as an aggregator and the church as a tool to spread revolution was not new in the time of the American Revolution and has been used even more effectively in the past 230 years.

    The Polish Solidarity movement was greatly assisted by the Roman Catholic Church by providing a unifying presence, a place to express opinions about the government and, with the visit of Pope John Paul II, a protected place in public under international media watch where they could let others know that the movement was huge, the people were not alone and the power of their numbers trumped the state.

    Lech Walesa wrote in a 2003 tribute to Pope John Paul II:

    During his first pilgrimage to Poland, the Holy Father uttered two sentences of great significance: "Be not afraid" and "Renew the face of the earth." The pope showed us how numerous we were and showed us the...power we had if we joined together as one. We stopped being afraid and gathered together 10 million people in our trade union, Solidarity, which changed the face of this earth.

    Not all insurgencies that invoke "God" are successful. By invoking "God" as the moral authority, there are certain expectations of conduct. In fact, "immoral" behavior on the part of the insurgency, such as gratuitous violence against non-participating entities and citizens, can destroy or greatly diminish the "moral authority" of the actors in the eyes of the two audiences that the insurgency hoped to address in their declaration: the people that they want to attract and the neutral states that they hope will abstain from interfering or even help them by providing smuggled funds, materials and weapons.

    Therefore, the first act of the opposition is to destroy or diminish the moral authority of the insurgency by highlighting every act that is "immoral". The opposition should be careful to assign immorality based largely on the actions against the primary audience, the "people". Trying to assign immorality to acts against the opponent's own forces or government is difficult, particularly if it is violence against police or military. The only time immorality against these entities can be assigned is when any of the members of the group do not die in "direct action", but are bound and executed. The execution of "helpless" victims, even if they are associated with the government or the opposition, can invoke fear of similar treatment as well as a subconscious withdraw based on personal morality.

    This method requires that the opponent attempt to abide by moral standards as well, even if the insurgents continue to act "immoral".

    Most cultures also revere the "warrior", largely perceived as a heroic figure that stands and fights his enemies. The fact that most insurgencies now rely on complete stealth, hidden bombs, assasinations and quick retreat with little face to face battle can work against them. So, it is also important that the opposition avoids extrajudicial executions of prisoners and shows its soldiers or police as standing in the open, the epitome of the "warrior", taking pains not to attack the populace, inflict undo "collatoral damage" and, in fact, seen as helping the "people", which not only invokes morality on the part of the opponent, but plays to the audience of the "people".

    Words are equally important. The state or opponent of the insurgency should describe the acts in words that imply "immoral" even if they do not use that word itself. Extreme caution in using the word "immoral" directly since the insurgency can use the word in return for any act that is perpetrated by the opponent. It also implies that the state is the arbiter of "morality" instead of "God" and the opponent should avoid relinquishing the moral power of "God" to the insurgents if at all possible.

    Appropriate words would reflect the actions such as:

  • Cowardly
  • Dastardly
  • Sneaky
  • Merciless

    Words describing behavior that most cultures abhor in daily behavior.

    The opponent would do well to describe their own actions as the opposite:

  • Brave
  • Heroic
  • Honest
  • Compassionate

    An insurgency that invoked "morality" that was not a complete success was the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland. The failure of this insurgency to reach its widest goals, withdrawal of British Forces and union of North and South Ireland can be attributed to several factors. In regards to this topic, two of these factors include:

  • The narrow definition of the divinity ("God" as the Catholic representation)

  • Gratuitous acts of violence against "civilians"
    • Even accidental deaths can be detrimental
    • Lack of remorse for the gratuitous acts of violence

    The role of the church and faith in insurgencies has been an important factor in providing a place to voice opinions, meet others who have similar faith and political leanings, provide cover for messages to pass and even provide sermons that either overtly or covertly promote the ideology of the insurgents. It is not limited to the "church" as a Christian entity. Mosques have been used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the Caucuses and many European nations to spread the word of Islamic revolution through "jihad" or promote a more localized insurgency and their message.

    The fear of the church or mosque as an aggregator for political and social change has convinced many governments to share power with or enact controls over the organizations or to ban them completely.

    Saudi Arabia
    Prompted by the government's arrest of two dissident Wahhabi clerics for anti-government preaching, several thousand protestors staged demonstrations in the Saudi town of Buraida. The clerics had accused the monarchy of corruption and of betraying Islam by allowing U.S. troops on the Saudi peninsula. While the government admitted it arrested over 100 protestors, opposition groups claimed thousands were arrested after the demonstrations.

    The incident forced the government to cede more control to the Wahhabi clerics, but only with the promise of their support. The clerics were quietly released from prison in 1999.

  • China
    Aikman: During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) every single church building (and mosque and temple as well) was closed in China. The formal, permitted structures of Chinese Protestantism and Catholicism had also been dissolved by Mao's Red Guards.[snip]
    Lopez: Are democracy advocates in China more likely to be Christian than not?

    Aikman: No. There are plenty of pro-democracy secular activists in China. What has happened, however, is that some intellectuals who were dissident within China and then came to the West and became Christian, have integrated their faith with proposals for a new democratic governance in China. It is nevertheless true that all of China's Christians would strongly support democratic change in China.

    Further discussion of the church or faith in insurgencies and whether these entities can be cooped or neutralized in fighting an insurgency needs to be addressed. For this discussion, it suffices to say that the imparting of moral authority by the invocation of the divinity is a difficult obstacle to overcome, but can be addressed, largely through the implication of immoral behavior on the part of the insurgency. Particularly insurgencies that commit gratuitous acts of violence, that are not remorseful and even those who are not influenced to moderation in their acts by faith, but insist their faith allows them or demands them to commit such acts. It is also made easier if the insurgency claims a specific invocation of the divinity as a representation of their religious sect instead of an all encompassing divinity.

    The important part is to not cede morality to the insurgents.

    Rejection Of the Divinity In Declarations

    Other insurgencies have actually been successful by rejecting "God" as the moral authority. This tactic has worked best in situations where the church is complicit in acts against their adherents, where the church is seen as an arm of government or, at least, has been largely ineffectual in alleviating the suffering of the masses.

    The most widely recognized insurgency rejecting a divinity is the Russian Bolshevik revolution in 1917. The complete rejection of the church did not occur until five years after the revolution. In the 1920's the Soviet government had instigated and directed wide spread persecution against the church, killing many believers, priests and Bishops. The rejection of the church by the base revolutionaries was the result of their belief in social justice through the work of the common man and not the church which, even in European nations, was seen as a tool or arm of the government and a part of the system of repression. The Russian Orthodox Church was no exception.

    The rejection of the church or a divinity can also result in the rejection of any moderating force on the act of the insurgency. Another example would be the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. During this period, Robespierre rejected the church and its representation of the divinity, creating the Cult of the Supreme Being:

    If the satellites of tyranny can assassinate you, it is not in their power entirely to destroy you. Man, whoever thou mayest be, thou canst still conceive high thoughts for thyself. Thou canst bind thy fleeting life to God, and to immortality. Let nature seize again all her splendor, and wisdom all her empire! The Supreme Being has not been annihilated.

    This rejection was also based on the church as a state entity, arm of the government and the long history of french kings declaring themselves "absolute" rulers by ordination of "God". The revolutionaries eventually abolished special privileges of the clergy, annexed their land and forced the clergy to swear allegiance to the state. The split with the church also led to the persecution and death of priests.

    In both cases, the church and faith as it was known at the time were rejected.

    Summary on Morale Authority

    The most important concepts to carry away from this review are:
  • Insurgencies issue declarations of intent
  • Words within the declaration have intent above the declaration of grievances and war
  • Declarations usually include the method of moral authority
  • Moral authority can only be defeated by implied or actual immorality
  • Do not allow the insurgency to own "morality"

    Next discussion, parts 2-4 of the declaration, their meaning and methods to combat the message.
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