Are India’s Maoist rebels winning the war?

Title of an article in today’s BBC News online by Soutik Biswas.

The fact that the question can even be asked tells you the answer.

As the article notes, the Naxelite insurgency follows the classical pattern identified by Boyd:

They feel ignored and deprived by the Communist government [CR note:  “Communist government” !!!?] which has been ruling the state since 1977. Most live in abject poverty. The only visible signs of “development” I spotted during a trip to the area some years ago were cheap liquor shops.

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People thoughts, etc., etc.

I don’t want to bore you all, but it’s hard to think of a more important topic in this day and time.  So far, I’ve mentioned the Naxelites in India and Jamaican drug gangs.  But the gold standard for swimming in the sea of the people nowadays is probably Hezbollah:

Ten years on since the withdrawal, the UN together with the Lebanese army patrol the border area. But flapping in the breeze along the fence are yellow and green flags of Hezbollah. Waving next to them is the flag of the group’s biggest foreign backer – Iran.

It is Hezbollah that has real control over what happens in southern Lebanon and many villagers say they like the arrangement.

“It’s the resistance, its weapons and [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah who make us feel safe here,” says Fawwaz Mohammed. “Without the resistance we could never be free.”

Update on Jamaica — reports that “thousands” of troops have assaulted Dudus’s stronghold.  The fact that, two days later, they’re still assaulting it tells you something.  Whether they eventually capture Christoper “Dudus” Cook, this cannot turn out well for Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding.  For one thing, Dudus’s gang, the “Shower Posse,” is (was?) closely affiliated with Golding’s ruling Labor Party.  And by launching the assault after initially resisting the US demand for Dudus’s extradition, Golding paints himself as more attuned to American interests than those of his constituents and countrymen.

We didn’t expect to be treated like this

Not from Toyota:

Five months before the new 2002 Lexus ES hit showroom floors, the company’s U.S. engineers sent a test report to Toyota City in Japan: The luxury sedan shifted gears so roughly that it was “not acceptable for production.”

The warning was sent to Toyota Executive Vice President Katsuaki Watanabe on May 16, 2001. Days later, another Japanese executive sent an e-mail to top managers saying that despite misgivings among U.S. officials, the 2002 Lexus was “marginally acceptable for production.” The new ES went on sale across the nation on Oct. 1, 2001.

From “Toyota took cost-cutting approach on lurching Lexus models, records show,” Ken Binsinger, LA Times, 23 May 2010.

You can practice the Toyota Production System all you want, but by treating your customers — Lexus customer, no less — with such contempt, it all goes for nought.  The moral level trumps the mental and the physical, in business as in war.

Here’s a thought:

Moral isolation

occurs when we fail to abide by codes of conduct or standards of behavior in a manner deemed acceptable or essential by others outside ourselves.

From Strategic Game of ? and ?, J. R. Boyd, June 1987.  As Boyd notes  few charts later, your competitors cannot morally isolate you — that’s something you have to do to yourself (although competitors can make sure you get full credit for your actions).

People thoughts must become guerrilla thoughts

Latest in a series.

For an example of how it’s done, read the Guardian’s series on Christopher “Dudus” Coke, a gang lord from Jamaica:

Coke is described as one of the world’s most dangerous druglords by the US justice department.

To the residents of Tivoli Gardens, the poor west side of Kingston where his gang has immense support, he is the benefactor who provides them with food, acts as mediator in disputes and even sends their children to school. They call him Presi, Bossy, Shortman or, most commonly, Dudus.

Residents, not affiliated with the gang, have erected their own barricades:

In the centre of Kingston today, residents could be seen standing behind roadblocks on street corners. Several barricades appeared to have been erected not by gunmen or gang members, but by ordinary residents seeking to protect themselves, or to obstruct the police, who often have a poor reputation for corruption and brutality.

A similar situation erupted in Brazil in 2006, when a gang called the First Command of the Capital shut down Sao Paulo for several days.

What could happen in Jamaica is that the government takes such losses in combating the gangs that its police and security forces refuse to engage.  At this point, the state has failed, and it will probably require massive and expensive intervention by the US to prop up some semblance of a government.  The alternative, that Jamaica, like India, works out a modus vivendi with the mini-state in its midst, was foreclosed when the US decided to force Jamaica to honor the American request to extradite Dudus to New York.  We should be careful what we wish for.

When guerrilla thoughts are no longer people thoughts

Support for the guerrilla cause can quickly dry up:

The continued agonizing over the May 5 killings was apparent during Greece’s latest general strike on Thursday. Roughly 20,000 union members marched through Athens, a fraction of the more than 100,000 who took to the streets the day of the murders. In the end, the anarchists also took part in Thursday’s protests, but turnout was modest, and those who did participate were peaceful.

“It’s a shock. We always thought of ourselves as people who are victims, not people who create victims,” says Panagiotis, an edgy 30-year-old who helps organize cultural events within the anarchist scene and condemns the killings. Like most members of the movement, he would only gave his first name.  “In Greece, Anarchy Yields to Soul-Searching,” Marcus Walker, Wall St. J., 22 May 2010.

As I noted in COIN, tight integration of guerrillas and people is critical if the cause is going to survive.  Otherwise, the public will — correctly — view the guerrillas as thugs and criminals.

CTW Now Available for Kindle

It doesn’t show yet on the main Certain to Win page, but [FLASH! Update:  Now you see all editions when searching for Certain to Win]  there’s a Kindle page for it:

CTW is also available in eBook format for a variety of readers at Barnes & Noble and BooksOnBoard.


“Insurgents” are people out to overthrow the government in some part, perhaps all, of a country and replace it with themselves.

“Guerrilla warfare” is a style of fighting.  It can be used for any purpose, including prosecuting an insurgency or resisting an occupying force of foreign troops.  It can also be an adjunct to conventional operations in a more traditional war between states.

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Certain to Win now at BN Digital

For $7.99.  Such a deal.   Works with iPod/iPhone/iPad, Blackberry, Windows and Macs, and of course with the Nook e-Reader.  Download free apps from their site.

Search their site for Certain to Win, or try the following link:

Why “certain to win”?  Well, I get reports that people who cultivate a deep understanding of this stuff develop ways to apply it that lead to orders of magnitude improvements in time to do things (and more important, to learn from what they do).

This is not a “how to” guide.  You internalize the principles, you reach deep understanding, and then you will naturally generate ideas for implementation within your organization and learn from the efforts you make.