One of the most confusing aspect of modern insurgency for the "experts" * is that nearly every guerrilla group worth observing is advancing on the objective of state failure rather than state replacement.** As in, why would Hezbollah want to rule Lebanon? Who would want that headache?The reason that state failure, or a hollow state, is preferable to state replacement derives from the same counter-intuitive rationale that Lawrence (of Arabia) based his campaign against the Turks upon: partial failure offers many more benefits that complete failure. In this modern case, a hollow state is preferable because:
- It serves as a bulwark against pressure from external Western encroachment. Any action against the non-state group from the outside harms the fragile hollow government (particularly its legitimacy). Bomb the group, harm the state since virtual or defacto ownership of territory means that the group never really owns any infrastructure (it just rents it).
- The existence of the state provides a perpetual enemy against which to fight. Eternal warfare isn't a negative thing for groups founded on the proposition of struggle or competence in warfare. Often, meaning is only found in opposition.
- It eliminates any real requirement to actually provide social services. The state can be held responsible for any failure in this regard. The only true responsibility these groups retain is to their membership. Often the only external benefits (outside the group), these organizations provide are cessation of violence through imposition of codes of conduct/means of adjudication (from the PCC to the Sharia of the ISI).
* I agree with John Boyd in the term "expert" is akin to "half-wit" since expertise in a rapidly evolving field of knowledge is only valid on the first day it is attained. After that, you become a dogmatist unless you are constantly engaged in the synthesis necessary for updating your ideas.** This is also a great example of how an historical narrative can mislead. Experts, schooled in counter-insurgency, look to the narratives of Mao and Ho for guidance. Their method uses hierarchical and ideologically cohesive organizational forms to build a shadow state that moves from guerrilla warfare during to the early stages of the conflict to conventional warfare (which enables them to seize/control territory) in the final phases of the conflict. The empirical trend data of modern conflict suggests otherwise.