But then Galula put the boot in to the aspiring counter-insurgents. Whether it was due to his disenchantment with what had happened in Algeria is not clear - but Galula laid out the central problem for the counterinsurgents when they tried to mirror the communist revolutionaries - they didn’t have a cause:
"One basic difference between insurgency and counterinsurgency is that the insurgent starts out with nothing but a cause and grows to strength, while counterinsurgent often starts with everything but a cause and gradually declines in strength to the point of weakness"
So the RAND corporation decided to find something equivalent to a cause, powerful enough to bring the villagers in SE Asia over to the American side.
Up to this point RAND had been exclusively dealing with the tactics of nuclear warfare, but in the mid 60s it turned its attention to counterinsurgency - or what they started calling COIN. And very quickly there was a furious debate within the think tank.
The traditionalists argued that you stuck with the Hearts and Minds approach - or what they now called HAM. But others said that this never worked because the Americans didn’t have as powerful a vision to offer the peasants as the communist revolutionaries did. They didn’t have a romantic picture of creating a new world.
The solution, they said, was to fuse counterinsurgency with modern economic theory - above all the theory of the free market - and treat the villagers as “rational actors” in an economic system. You didn’t offer them a vision, or a cause, instead you gave them “selective incentives” to co-operate with the government, plus disincentives to stop them resisting.
wow. So a former true-believer who has seen how worthless counterinsurgency is (Galula) tells counterinsurgency wonks the obvious reason why this is so (that frankly I’m baffled no one realized in the first place): They begin to work from a place of zero vision, particularly vision FOR those they want to dominate and pretend to help (this in itself being a problem as well that goes unsaid). So instead of abandoning counterinsurgency the RAND corporation (essentially the forefathers of COIN) try to infuse something that’s even worse and more morally bankrupt than having no vision whatsoever: modern economic theory, the theory of the free market, Rational Choice theory, and all that nonsense for fucking academic 2-year olds…
I mean, I knew COIN was some absurd, dumb shit devised by clueless assholes, but holy crow it’s somehow even a lot worse than that.