The scope and structure of the insurgency in Iraq

This lengthy assessment of the insurgency in Iraq in the Boston Review paints a depressing picture (well, “depressing” depending on if you see the insurgency as a bunch of medievally minded mafias or as a national liberation force.)

“Muqtada [al-Sadr] has managed to alienate a considerable element of his community. In fact, none of the insurgent groups, whether Sunni or Shi’i, have a nationwide legitimacy in this fragmented country; each has a message that appeals only to a specific community.

But these limits on support for the insurgents have not translated into an advantage for the coalition. In preventing the insurgency from transcending the constraints of localization, the center of gravity remains, without a doubt, the people—ordinary Iraqi citizens who crave security and law and order, and then economic activity.

The insurgency can evolve, and indeed, from the vantage point of summer 2004 appears to be evolving, into patterns of complex warfare and violence. Should this evolution continue, the prospects for American success in bringing about Iraqi security, political stability, and reconstruction will be nonexistent.”