Echoes of Spain

Many people have drawn historical parallels between Iraq and other conflicts, usually for a partisan purpose. At United Press International, security experts John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt offer a new one:

The conflict raging in Iraq has been compared to many earlier wars, but the best historical comparison has been largely overlooked. ***
The civil war that is the most fitting historical reference point to Iraq today is the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). That war revolved around two main sides: one pro-democracy, the other pro-fascist. Neither side was particularly cohesive or well-organized. Both consisted of fractious coalitions of diverse organizations and agendas, many based on personality. It often looked more like a war of fragmented tribes and clans than modern organizations.

Arquilla and Ronfeldt offer several more parallels between the two conflicts, including the importance of foreign fighters and the primacy of propaganda. They acknowledge that the analogy is “imprecise,” but overlook several blindingly obvious differences between the two conflicts. More about that later.
Like most who draw historical parallels, Arquilla and Ronfeldt are quick to jump to policy implications:

The Spanish model serves to confirm that Iraq is indeed undergoing a civil war. It speaks to man

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