Battle of Algiers’ Stages of 4GW

From a anti-French FLN recruiter to a new member, in The Battle of Algiers:

First, we need to get organized
and secure our hideouts
then we can take action.

The organization’s getting stronger,
but there are still too many drunks, whores, and junkies.
People who talk too much.
People ready to sell us out.

We must win them over or eliminate them.
We must clean house first — organize the country.
Only then we can take on our real enemy.
You understand, Ali?

The first paragraph

  • Get Organized
  • Secure Hideouts
  • Take Action

Is close to Mao’s 3 Stages of 4GW

Organize, Contest, Conquer, then Win

However, FLN has is an innovator. FLN is different from the 4GW opponents America encountered. Specifically, the anti-French National Liberation front was much more Lenninist. Traditional guerilla warriors try to postpone killing countrymen — Mao, Ho, Ortega and others “cleansed” their movements last. While none of these victors shied away from killing their countrymen, they did not have the focus on purity that FLN had.

Given this difference, it is a surprise FLN won at all. The civil war FLN fought against MNA reminds one more of the Chinese Nationalist than their insurgent opponents. It appears that FLN was an even weaker opponent than the Vietnamese Communists. FLN probably would not have won if it were not for Charles DeGaulle, a man with a history of panicky foreign policy.

The lessons?

  • Though Fourth Generation Wars are similar, every opponent is different
  • Internal Weakness can lead to a lost 4GW, even against a weak opponent

Update: John Robb compares the Battle of Algiers to 7 / 7.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *