How to fight insurgents?

Jill Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor has an article about the US military studying French tactics in the Algerian war for lessons on how to fight the insurgency in Iraq. The irony of this aside, the two situations show some striking differences and some unsurprising similarities:
As in Iraq, a foreign, largely non-Arab military occupied an Arab country. The French forces also faced a protracted insurgency that used "extreme and systematic use of terrorism" and was aided by neighboring countries, says (Christopher) Harmon, (who is the Kim T. Adamson Chair of Insurgency and Terrorism at the Marine Corps University, Washington).
The French went in with an overwhelming force determined to permanently control Algeria. Some 500,000 French soldiers occupied a country of 9 million Algerians and were aided by skilled Algerian soldiers called harkis. In Iraq there are roughly 150,000 troops in a country of about 26 million where efforts to train strong, nationalist-minded Iraqi security forces have had spotty results.
Unlike the Iraqi insurgency, that unity (among the rebels) helped Algerian insurgent leaders develop a strong campaign to undermine political support for the French occupation. They established formal diplomatic ties with other African countries and in Asia and pushed for the United Nations to help end the war and grant Algeria independence. There were also attacks in France proper by Algerian insurgents that killed some 5,000 people, Harmon notes, "to frighten France and make them stop the war."
But it was the French themselves that dealt the biggest blow to support for their campaign in Algeria, say counterinsurgency experts. The French military's systematic use of torture and extrajudicial killings contributed to France losing the political war at home and in Algeria.
(emphasis added)

That insurgencies inevitably lead to torture and other inhuman practices by the invading force should be obvious to any student of military history. Unless you are a blithering idiot and your name is Donald Rumsfeld.

History has shown time and again that insurgencies cannot be won on purely military terms, no matter how overwhelming the military force. As long as there is no political progress, the insurgency will continue to attract recruits. And as long as there are recruits, the insurgency will continue to thrive. Which explains why no insurgency has ever been defeated in the "next six months," though our political and military leaders continue to insist that everything is going to be A-okay in the next FU.

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