March 16, 2006

The Sources of 'The Will to Kill'

Brian J Dunn usually does better than this:

When I've discussed dealing with Iran I've mostly focused on the need for regime change. But I've always assumed that it would be a military coup-driven change resting on the support of the people who will be grateful that Iranians are toppling the mullahs. I've not had much faith in the ability of the Iranian people to pull down the regime in an Insert-Your-Color-Here Revolution.

Strategypage notes that people power revolts rely on a regime too reluctant to unleash the forces of the security apparatus on the people--either from moral sensibilities or fear the guys with guns won't shoot at the people if ordered to do so. And the Iranian regime is more than happy to kill and has the killers reliable enough to do the job:

The problem is that neither Dunn's article nor the underlying Strategy Page article actually look at this hundred thousand man force and what makes them reliable killers for the regime. This is reducing a key political player to a bunch of myrmidons, cardboard cutouts, imitations of human beings with complex emotions and motivations. This will not do for serious analysis.

It's crucial for any sort of internally driven revolution to understand these men and what motivates them. If it's money and power, can they be bought? If it's fear of the hangman, can they be given pardons or guarantees of comfortable exile? If it is out of religious fervor, are their mullahs that could turn them with a well written fatwa declaring that they must change sides?

No matter what the answers are, it is in the details of the motivation of the hard men defending the mullahs that will determine if a people power revolt is possible. Not all of them have to be turned, just enough to make resistance hopeless and demoralize the regime to the point where it negotiates a surrender.

It is very likely that intelligence agencies from various countries have pursued this information and that a pretty good map of regime military/paramilitary/police motivations exist, unit by unit. That's not the kind of thing that is going to go open source intelligence anytime soon. But it behooves us on the open side to recognize the limits of our analysis and to point to where the obvious holes are instead of filling them in with our own prejudices.

Posted by TMLutas at March 16, 2006 11:59 PM