Victory in COIN does not always run through jobs

Harriman, P. (April 13, 2008). Dangerous close to having no law. Argus Leader. Available online:

The situation in South Dakota’s Lakota Indian Country is bad as always, if a bit worse this year than previous one. A crime rate ten times the national average, illegal armed militias (the Rosebud police force let its certification lapse, making its “arrests” perilously close to kidnapping and leading to the release of hundreds of criminals), and general misery. The situation among the Lakota brings about comments that could be said about Iraq:

“I come back to the basic premise if you don’t have security, it’s hard to have anything else,” he told the Standing Rock Sioux tribal council during a February visit. “It’s hard to have economic development without public safety. It’s hard for kids to learn if you don’t feel safe.”

And yet, the Counter-Insurgency (COIN) success of the US government is complete, in spite of minimal security and few jobs. How? Family liberation, the destruction of the social and cultural infrastructure of a people. Family liberation has been successfully applied against the Lakota Sioux, though obviously would not be appropriate everywhere: the destroyed culture better now be the local majority over a large area!

Still, not all COIN is touchy-feely jobs-based nation building. That’s something to keep in mind.