Friday October 19 2007

euphemisms for civilians that fight

  • militias
  • death squads
  • paramilitary
  • civilian auxilleries
  • black water contractors


  • they are unique
  • their immunity is written into article 17 of the iraqi constitution

civilians that fight

  • regardless of sponsor all these groups operate in a grey area
  • their missions if performed by regular forces would be legitimate
  • they accomplish tasks that can be achieved by regular forces
  • they are an admission of the weakness of state capacity


  • often act in localized areas
  • Columbia is an exception where paramilitary groups had extended reach)

How to build a Death Squad

Step One

get locals

you need people familiar with local…

  • residents
  • customs
  • geography/ terrain
  • power structure
  • language

Step Two

find the notable people within the locals

Step Three

ensure they can do dirty work

  • ensure they are not accountability


  • they changed the laws
  • instituted special courts
  • conviction of subversion on no evidence

control is an alternative to terror

Anglo American model

  • institute reform
  • reform creates legitimacy
  • legitimacy creates popular support
  • no more gurillas

The anglo model is never questioned

  • however the anglo model has never been tested
  • the french model has been tried time and time agains
  • depending on ones definition of victory it has been largely successful
  • terror is a tried and true alternative


  • at this time their were 7000 gorillas
  • there were 30-40 thousand supporters
  • 500 k plus sympathized

the 30- 40 thousand supporters were targeted
human rights activists
trade unions

  • by the end of the 70's the 30-40 thousands supporters had been killed or exiled
  • In 1980 a general strike was impossible because everyone was dead
  • they had no local support

the police had feet in both cases

  • the police knew more about the killings than most other branches of government

Quote of the Week

  • By the way, if you ever find yourself with an RPG
  • and you need to shoot down a helicopter,
  • remember that it will probably only work if the helicopter is standing still.
  • Even then, if you are in a built up area the back blast will probably do more damage to you than the RPG will do to the helicopter.

Both sides have death squads

  • they monitor
  • they mobilize
  • they drum up support
  • insurgent supported terror
  • this a universal necessity for victory
  • this is because local knowledge is just as important for overthrowing and maintaining death squads

Why go after the supporters?

  • they are vulnerable
  • demonstration effect -
  • lack of commitment
  • the battle of
  • the supporters are public figure they are visible
  • their attitudes are visible - you can't organize a strike in secret
  • their visibility makes them easy to target
  • whereas gurillas are invisible supporters are in the open unhindened and visible
  • at best they will shut up at worst they will run
  • an act of violence against a supporter intimidates a lot more people than killing a gurilla
  • they are also vulnerable because they are armed or protected
  • usually states, even weak states, can control cities,
  • given their understanding of the situation - the actions of El Salvador


  • humiliation for everyone involved
  • terror
  • subjugation
  • social damage
  • demoralization
  • encourages refugees to flee


  • majority of armenians (120K)
  • the entire population was moved
  • terror is a cost effective way of moving civilian populations
  • Soviet term: facts on the ground
  • if you have the media it only takes one act


  • Sharon took over a town
  • all the women and children fled to a basement

sharom bombed the basement
from then on the palestinians fleed if the Isrealies came in
Hadifa village massacre
civilian cooperation improved after the massacre
dramatic increase in tips afterward

the principal of noncombatant immunity is destroyed


  • cheap
  • efficient
  • effective


  • a number of people can't make the transition back to normalcy
  • a lot of people turn to crime

Spontaneous Death Squads in Columbia

  • Lospepes
  • MAS
  • two private groups
  • depending of definitions there were an array of private armies (to protect ranches)

Pablo Escobar

  • boss of the Medine Cartel
  • Killing Pablo
  • the hunt for Escobar
  • he ran a city and fought the Columbia government
  • long history of kidnap for ransom
  • Escobar's sister or sister in law was kidnapped
  • created an organization "Death to Kidnappers"
  • Escobar and subbosses contributed men and money to the cause
  • a couple of bodies would be found each week
  • it made the city safer

Los pepes

  • a rival family in the city of Medijin
  • they started to kill members of the medijin cartel - not combattants
  • they were supported by the columbia government
  • assets were uncovered and targeted
  • as he was cornered these assets would be useful if he fled
  • allies fled Columbia or disassociated themselves from Pablo
  • Pablo became alienated and weak and was thus killed

Rule: Never go after the perpetrators of a crime, always go after their support network aka their family

SIGINT (signals Intelligence)

  • converted military jet
  • centraspike
  • run by a contractor
  • gurilla attack on an outpost
  • kidnap of 4 westeners
  • they were brought back into the mountains
  • for various reasons these westerners had to be brought back alive
  • from 30 miles away
  • they could detect crushed vegitation - so they could track their trail
  • night vision - blue and black - trail of orange and red
  • one gurilla was left alive to take the story back

1. Stay and Pray
2. Refugee
3. Negotiate a local solution

  • if you have local assets you ain't going anywhere
  • ranching is a good example

security problem

  • no justice, no compensation
  • the state is seen as ineffective



  • small ranchers vs. large ranchers
  • small ranchers invested in cowboys, red boots and sashes
  • large ranchers would rig elections
  • Wyatt Eurp -
  • Lincoln County Range Wars
  • merchants vs. ranchers
  • the point is that resorting to private assasins where the state cannot fulfill its role


  • operate over a large area - this is indicative of state involvement
  • arab villages have been attacked they have many african members
  • they are predominantly arab
  • target civilians especially women

Why would the Sudanese government want this sort of group?

  • displacement of people
  • why are the people necessary to exploit the natural resources
  • there are insurgents among the population in Darfur
  • isolate the popular support
  • rape is used as terror to encourage population flight
  • if the non-commited run those who stay are insurgents

soviet term for COIN - anti partisan

Why can't the Sudenese use the anglo model

  • reform would cause them to lose power and be executed

not all authoritarian regimes use terror and not all democracies used reform

  • when shit hits the fan you get: conventional war against civilian populations
  • for example World War 2


  • WW1 out of a population 9 million Canada had 1 million in uniform
  • total mobilization: it's like going "all in" in poker

How does one attain legitimacy

  • there are more ways to skin a cat
  • it goes both ways
  • do people prefer to be beaten by a policemen of their own language
  • the humiliation factor
  • it is something rooted deeply in psyche
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