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Ideology in COIN

Posted By Grim • [April 14, 2008]

Small Wars Journal has a short paper by COL Robert Jones on the subject of ideology in counterinsurgency.  Section Five is worth reproducing in full, which I will below the fold.  The heading is:

V. U.S. ideology holds that when government fails insurgency is both the right and the duty of the populace.

Emphasis added.  Read the rest, below.

The American Declaration of Independence is an amazing document. It is the cornerstone of American government, and forms the core of American Ideology. Many students of insurgency take the position that during the post-WWII insurgencies of the 50’s and 60’s that the U.S. Ideology was one of capitalism versus the ideology of communism used to unite the populaces of those poorly governed nations that rose up to throw off western colonialism.ii During the post Cold War insurgencies of this generation the conflict is characterized as one of democracy versus the fundamentalist Islamism that speaks to the populaces of those poorly governed nations that are currently rising up to throw off the less direct form of western exploitation that replaced colonialism.

What makes the Declaration of Independence so amazing is that in such a concise and complete manner, it conveys a message that is universal and timeless. This is a powerful beacon of hope to populaces everywhere, and generations of every time. In this globalized age of shrinking state power, and growing popular power, this message is more than ever not just a relic of America’s

noble past, but provides the roadmap to an even greater future. Consider these tenets contained within this codification of American Ideology:

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That governance is "of, by, and for" the people, and that all populaces are unique in their needs, and will chose the form of government which suits them best (this means that government is subordinate to the populace, and that no power external to that populace has the right to dictate what form that governance will take).

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That every populace has both the right and the duty to rise up in insurgency when their government fails, i.e., becomes "despotic" (rights and duties are two of the most powerful concepts in law. A right is an authorization to act that cannot be infringed, and a duty is an order to act that cannot be ignored. The populace not only can revolt, they must).

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Certain rights, to include, but not limited to, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are inalienable (This means that they come from God, not man, and that no government can infringe upon them. This, by the way, is a point that no Islamic fundamentalist can well counter).

America is uniquely positioned to assume a leadership role on a global scale that is focused not on the governments of the world, but on their populaces. America has the strength of resources and the proper ideology to not control the world, but rather to shape its development. By empowering populaces everywhere with the ideology contained in our Declaration of Independence, and by using our strength and wealth to facilitate good governance on their terms, we stand an excellent chance of becoming not the heavy handed nation that others see us as, but rather as that noble nation we see in ourselves.

The fact is, that neither capitalism nor democracy are mentioned directly in either the American Declaration of Independence, or the U.S Constitution.


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