| 16 February 2005

Getting the job done: Iraq and the Malayan Emergency

Dealing with the entrenched insurgency in Iraq is the largest task facing the new Iraqi government, Washington and its allies. In a new Lowy Institute Perspectives, Dr. Milton Osborne, one of Australia's leading historians of Southeast Asia, analyses what lessons we can draw for Iraq from colonial Britain's successful counter-insurgency campaign during the Malayan Emergency. Dr. Osborne argues that the communist insurgency in Malaya had much shallower roots than the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq, while the British colonial authorities were in a much better position to tackle the insurgency aggressively than the new interim government in Iraq or the United States-led multilateral forces. Despite these more favourable conditions, the Malayan Emergency lasted for 12 years and required a very heavy application of military and police force. The roots of success in Malaya suggest that the Iraqi insurgency is a long-term problem with no easy solutions.Milton Osborne

  • Milton Osborne

Dealing with the entrenched insurgency in Iraq is the largest task facing the new Iraqi government, Washington and its allies. In a new Lowy Institute Perspectives, Dr. Milton Osborne, one of Australia's leading historians of Southeast Asia, analyses what lessons we can draw for Iraq from colonial Britain's successful counter-insurgency campaign during the Malayan Emergency. Dr. Osborne argues that the communist insurgency in Malaya had much shallower roots than the Sunni-led insurgency in Iraq, while the British colonial authorities were in a much better position to tackle the insurgency aggressively than the new interim government in Iraq or the United States-led multilateral forces. Despite these more favourable conditions, the Malayan Emergency lasted for 12 years and required a very heavy application of military and police force. The roots of success in Malaya suggest that the Iraqi insurgency is a long-term problem with no easy solutions.Milton Osborne

  • Milton Osborne