On Revolutionary Warfare and the Plight of South Africa-GENERAAL ROLAND DE VRIES

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    Nat Quinn

    The only South Africans who have had that experience are the handful of soldiers who saw what Angola looked like in the seventies and eighties after years of civil war and cross border strife. To this day many of them remain haunted by memories of the wholesale destruction, immense human suffering, and complete loss of hope they witnessed.

    Do we, the people, want that? Obviously, we would all say “no”. Yet we seem to be heading that way in every field of endeavour. Still, no sensible answers are emerging from the Union Buildings in spite of the warnings of scores of experts in half a dozen fields. In some people’s minds the only solution is revolution, the overthrow of the entire status quo, after which something better will arise from the ashes. There is a phrase which aptly describes this sort of approach: “wishful thinking”.

    Revolution is not a bad thing per se. After all, society cannot stand still; there must be constant renewal: all fruitful evolution could therefore be described as being a revolution taking place in carefully handled slow-motion.

    The trouble is that many armchair revolutionaries, including a powerful bloc within the ANC’s command structure, do not see it that way. They have an idealised view of the “struggle” they look forward to. But because of this they need to be briefed on a couple of necessary facts:

    -Firstly: Unless very carefully handled, a more or less peaceful revolution can very suddenly become very violent and destructive, especially if there are some genuine grievances rearing their heads – hunger, for one thing. Lack of services. Unemployment … all the usual rascals.
    -Secondly: Protests might start more or less peacefully but can become ever more militant if the authorities’ only response is to rely on suppression instead of seeking solutions.
    -Thirdly: The wrong type of revolution is comparatively easy to get going. All that is really needed is a confluence of some or all of the various ingredients – and then one spark on the resulting powder-keg is enough. What is much more difficult is controlling it, never mind actually stopping it, because a revolution feeds on itself.
    -Fourthly: Any curtailment of a people’s personal freedom brings the threat of escalation that much closer. People like the Chinese, the Cubans, the North Koreans, whose citizens have never known anything but harsh dictatorships, probably would not even realise that such an encroachment was taking place. But a country whose people have experienced freedom is another matter altogether. Sooner or later, they will resist any attempt to take those liberties away. There is no going back for a nation once its people have breathed the pure oxygen of a true democracy.
    -Fifthly: It should never be forgotten that warfare of any kind is a brutal, wasteful, and usually economically disastrous pastime which should be cautiously resorted to. It should also be remembered, however, that if he is pushed far enough, or concludes that he is in danger, a peaceable man will rise against his tormentors, whoever they might be.

    So logically the approach of any governor should be to strive for peace by preventing the torment – official or unofficial – unless or before the citizenry take matters into their own hands. It is not an easy task, for sure, because peace is a fragile thing that requires zealous cultivation and preservation by whatever means are necessary. At the same time, however, as President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Wars are, of course, as a rule to be avoided; but they are far better than certain kinds of peace.”

    For those vulnerable millions of South Africans who live through every day under the threat of violent crime, let us do a quick reality check.

    During the Roman Empire’s twilight, the author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, while not a particularly astute historian or the possessor of any military experience, nevertheless coined a famous maxim about the relationship between war and peace: Si vis pacem para bellum – if you want peace, prepare for war.

    Pacifists have ever since decried this as a handy excuse for warmongering, forgetting (wilfully or otherwise) that no formal preparation is necessary for war, that even an empty fist or a broken brick can be used as a weapon. They forget (or do not want to acknowledge) that what is important is not Vegetius’s actual words but the thought behind them: peace through strength!

    Our country’s politicians need to take note: If a situation becomes bad enough, a moment will come when a community decides that enough is enough, that to secure its peace and freedom it is necessary to prepare for the worst and act accordingly; that if people set their minds to it, they can devise the ways and means needed to protect themselves effectively, and also to do so in Faith.

    The bottom line, then, is this: Let us be strong in Faith and do what is necessary to protect the lives and functioning of all peace-loving people. Let us be strong enough to face reality, unpleasant though that might be, given the escalation of violent crime and the high levels of political transgressions and indiscretions in our country!

    Let us focus for a moment on the sheer brutality of the totally unacceptable number of farm attacks and other murders. Consider the military precision with which these acts of violence are carried out! It is akin to terrorism and the well-known methods of guerrilla warfare – a criminal is in fact a terrorist who has deliberately declared war on civil society, with no cause except his own welfare.

    Take note of the ANC government’s inexplicable silence about the slaughter of people of all races in our rural heartland. Enough water has passed under the bridge for us to realise that talking about it serves no purpose, that they do not even acknowledge there is such a phenomenon. The ANC views beseeching as a weakness. In short, the government does not care!

    But denialism is not going to make the threat go away, any more than it did AIDS. It is here to stay, and likely to escalate. Think about the danger signs threatening South Africa.
    In his well-known treatise The Art of Counter-Revolutionary Warfare, John J. McCuen writes that the principles adopted by terrorists (including our own criminal terrorists) should be reversed and used to fight them. I believe that McCuen is right, although this is easier said than done, especially for civilised people.

    This is how McCuen describes the phases of revolutionary warfare in countries plagued by revolutionary onslaughts (including criminal onslaughts) in various countries in South America, Africa, and the Middle East:

    Phase 1: Organisation, mobilisation, networks and subversion: The revolutionaries (organised crime as well), usually start from nothing and then organise in secrecy against their adversaries. The wrongdoers then develop extensive criminal and terrorist networks of conspiracy until the inevitable cracks in the social and administrative fabric start to appear.
    Phase 2: Terrorism and low-scale guerrilla type warfare: Before long governing authorities are faced with unprecedented acts of terrorism and criminal action. Normally a reign of terror follows, whereby the revolutionaries make their mark and establish political-military baselines. This can be related to the high level of organised crime in South Africa and what is believed to be politically sponsored attacks on our farmers. Think about the leftist organisations threatening war against whites in our country and taking land by force.
    Phase 3: Guerrilla Warfare: The raging conflict usually swirls out of control as the “revolutionaries” (criminal gangs) shift to full-blown guerrilla warfare – by ambushing and attacking, extorting “taxes”, policing, administering justice, recruiting and so forth, in their own persuasive ways. Meanwhile they increase their effort to mobilise the people in support of their political objectives. The revolutionaries continue to build on their strength and try to gain legitimacy and to win broad-based popular support.
    Phase 4: Total anarchy is next. This can result in civil war, the final phase: No government control, major bouts of civil disobedience, rioting and mayhem with the intention of destruction and in gaining power.

    Benchmark the above pattern of revolutionary warfare to what is happening all over in South Africa today. Take the tragedy of what is happening in Kwazulu-Natal presently (July-August 2021) as a point in time. Be true to your findings, and ask yourself: Where do we find our place on McCuen’s list? When you have done that, and there is only one way forward: the people of this country need to do everything possible to prevent full-fledged anarchy and even civil war.

    Things are that bad.

    I do not exaggerate. In my military career I was taught to analyse a situation without fear or favour, and then accept the results without flinching. That is what the law-abiding and peace-loving people in South Africa will have to do. The state has failed them. They will have to protect themselves and their future, no matter what it takes.

    Look at the miracles happening on the ground in KZN in real-time, where ordinary peace-loving people worked and are working together to protect themselves and support each other – it is ordinary people of all colours and creeds! Our hope lies in the humble and Faithful!

    “The inevitable is only what a fool hasn’t the wit to avoid” – Somerset Maugham.

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