Lessons for Iraq from Cyprus and Malaya

Last year, I had the great good fortune to be invited by my old friend from Oxford days, Lt Col James Sterling Corum, to stay for dinner and overnight at All Souls College, Oxford. Jim was on a visiting fellowship to do some research on counter insurgency. He has just emailed me news of the publication of his monograph. It takes a detailed look at British operations in Malaya, which were successful, and in Cyprus, which were not.

In Malaya, the British initially threw manpower at the problem of the Chinese Malayan insurgents with little success. With good leadership, the indigenous police force was given high quality training and local leadership. Corruption in the police force was tackled seriously and the police were trained, notably in intelligence gathering. A further successful policy was the recruitment of officers from "the enemy" Chinese ethnic group and the training of the Home Guard as an effective force for local security, even where that meant arming and training local Chinese communities. In Cyprus, corruption in the police force was not tackled, training was not given priority and the "enemy" Greek ethnic group was greatly assisted in recruiting by the corruption of auxiliary Turkish police who notoriously refused to intervene when local Turkish people attacked Greeks and looted Greek property.

The conclusions applies the lessons to the current situation in Iraq. If you are feeling jaded by the routine denunciations of "Bush" and would rather read something that offered a positive way forward, this is a good place to start. The article is listed at the moment on the front page of the Strategic Studies Institute. Here is a link to the pdf of the monograph itself. Look out for his new book Quelling the Beast: A Counterinsurgency Strategy for America, to be published by Zenith Press later this year.

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