Global guerrillas are in the final stages of the systematic elimination of the all-volunteer Iraqi security system (which started in earnest with the siege of Fallujah). As anticipated (particularly given John Negroponte's appointment), the interim government's response has been to delegate power to loyalist paramilitaries. For example: Kurdish paramilitaries are now responsible for the security on convoys from Turkey and the northern oil pipelines. This decentralized approach draws on the same source of moral strength that powers Iraq's global guerrillas: primary loyalties.
Drivers and dynamics
A primary loyalty is a connection to a non-state group that is greater than loyalty to a state. These loyalties include those to clan, religion, tribe, neighborhood gang, etc. These loyalties are reciprocated through the delivery of political goods (see the brief Weak, Failed, and Collapsed States for a list of political goods) by the group that the state cannot or will not deliver. Here's a list of the dynamics driving behind primary loyalties:
- Catalytic systems sabotage. Global guerrilla system sabotage undermines the delivery of basic political goods (see the brief State Failure 101 for more). The state's failure to deliver these goods undermines its legitimacy and radically increases the strength of ties to non-state groups.
- A decentralized moral center. These loyalties supply global guerrillas with the moral cohesion they need to sustain operations. Additionally, these strong non-state connections drive coherent network growth, despite its decentralized form. NOTE: This continually confounds American strategists/planners searching for a centralized political center to target.
- Economics provide positive feedback. Despite appearances, nearly all guerrilla activity in Iraq contains an economic feedback loop that reinforces ongoing activity. Guerrilla entrepreneurs use the lure of direct payments, theft, ransoms, and other forms of financial reward to co-opt their groups into participation.
Globalization and Primary Loyalties
Contrary to conventional wisdom, globalization isn't a destabilizing challenge to primary loyalties. Connectivity via globalization heightens the threat by turbocharging otherwise disconnected guerrillas into innovative, resourceful, mobile, and dangerous global foes. Here's how:
- Knowledge. Globalization provides a layer of sophistication and expertise necessary for global guerrilla innovation. Think Internet and cell phone communications, international money transfers, attacks on network vulnerabilities, etc. Unlike Vietnam, where our opposition was mainly uneducated rural farmers, we face a well educated foe in Iraq.
- Leverage. The presence of complex infrastructure (for example: the electricity, communications, and transportation infrastructure necessary to support globalization) provides global guerrillas with the network leverage they need to turn small attacks into extremely costly and disruptive events.
- Global scale. Operations directed against strategic infrastructure (ie. OIL), have already had a global impact. This will continue (see the brief, A Shadow OPEC for more). Additionally, the sophisticated use of communications (for example: professionally produced videos posted on the Internet or sent to al Jazeera) that can cross borders without restriction, will quickly spread destabilization.