Gilliard Shoots Down the Iraq/ Malaya Trope
Steve Gilliard drives a silver stake through the persistent hope of some that Iraq’s “insurgency” can be defeated as the communists were defeated by the British in colonial Malaya (Malaysia). This comparison always neglects to note that the British had been the colonial power in Malaya since the nineteenth century, with a brief interregnum. They hadn’t just shown up suddenly in 1952. They had enormous logistical and intelligence advantages deriving from this long presence. Moreover, the defeat of the mostly Chinese communists in a largely Malay country came just before the British were forced to give the country independence. I was on a radio show with John Mearsheimer and Max Boot one time, and Boot (inevitably and tritely) brought up the British success in counter-insurgency in Malaya. Mearsheimer witheringly pointed out “The British aren’t in Malaysia anymore.”
See also Bulloch, who points out that the British achieved a 20 to 1 military superiority over the guerrillas in Malaya!