Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Algebra of Occupation

By Conn Hallinan | November 27, 2007
Foreign Policy in Focus

Contributed by Lucia in Spain

"......In each case, a great army won a decisive victory only to see that victory canceled out by what T.E. Lawrence once called the “algebra of occupation.” Writing about the British occupation of Iraq following the Ottoman Empire’s collapse in World War I, Lawrence put his finger on the formula that has doomed virtually every military force that has tried to quell a restive population.

Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk has cited Lawrence to this effect: “Rebellion must have an unassailable base…it must have a sophisticated alien enemy, in the form a disciplined army of occupation too small to dominate the whole area effectively from fortified posts. It must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 percent active in a striking force, and 98 percent passive sympathy. Granted mobility, security…time and doctrine…victory will rest with the insurgents, for the algebraical factors are in the end decisive.”......"

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