Originally Posted by Professor
"Would you say everybody in each population is an insurgent, including women and children? Would you say every male, no matter how old or young?"
Was that from a US military training manual?
I was attempting to demonstrate that the insurgency is less than or equal to the size of the supporting population. I then suggested that at its MAX size (in that culture) it must be... Insurgency population = total - female population - (males below critical age + males above critical age). Then go to a population study (CIA posts that for many countries) and compute the total number of males in the appropriate age group for fighters. Ooopsie, we forgot to subtract the feeble and infirm males.
So for a population of Sunni Arabs (say) of 20% * 30,000,000 = 6,000,000. Half being female = 3,000,000 possible insurgents.
Now lop the tales off the population curve (say 20% at a guess) = 4,800,000. Remove another 2% for feeble and infirm = 4,600,000 is your POTENTIAL max pool of Sunni insurgents. That's like saying what the maximum number of military recruits is possible in the USA. Big diff from actual, but let's leave it at the max just for fun.
Shiites represent 3x Sunni and assume the same proportionality, = about 15,000,000 possible combatants.
And the (Sunni) Turkomen, Kurds, Christians and Jews represent the remainder. All of them benefit by a fight between Sunnis and Shiites because in a fight, those two groups will degrade while the minorities consolidate their own gains.
The Sunnis Arabs used to run Iraq and they are pissed. The Shiites used to be oppressed and murdered by the Sunni and they are now in power. Who represents the greatest danger to stability in Iraq, Sunni or Shiites?
Now balance that against external factors. Shiites get support from Iran and the Sunnis get support from Arab Sunnis. But the Shiites are themselves divided between the Arab Shiites and Persian Shiites. Persians have always felt patrician contempt for Arabs and Arabs have always thought of Persians as untrustworthy snobs. Like for 5,000 years or so.
Mix thoroughly with local tribal hereditary elders (sheiks) who jockey for power and prestige with other elders.
This is the brew that Saddam kept stable by murder, torture and oppression. We are hoping to guide them to a different way, some form of democracy.
It may work.