The Times assumes that the killers in Iraq are, in fact, "insurgents." But insurgents have a political plan; no matter how brutal they may be, they see their violence as leading to a political change -- the government will be cast out to be replaced by a new government, typically themselves. Thus, they tend to create shadow directorates that mimic the functions of a government; they have spokespeople who explain their political goals; they try to seize territory to prove they can run it better than the current regime, solving for the people there whatever burning issue is driving the insurgency (land distribution, famine, whatever).
But this is to assume what the Times purportedly wants to discover. If you begin by assuming the killers are "insurgents," then you have limited your conclusions to some Vietnam-style political revolution. Put another way, if you start by assuming that they are insurgents -- then you must wind up concluding that they are insurgents.
But if you look with a more open mind, the closest-fit historical model is not that of the followers of Uncle Ho in Vietnam from the 50s through the mid-70s, or the Algerian insurgency against the French in the 1950s, or the attempts at independence by the Kosovars against the Serbs in the late 90s.
Rather, the best historical precedents are the Aztecs, who turned mere human sacrifice into an art form by killing more and more and more people until they literally may have slaughtered an end to their own empire. Their intent was not to achieve some political goal; they already ruled. Rather, they developed the theological notion that the more people they butchered, the more pleased their bloody gods would be.
With that gloss, the Iraq "insurgency" comes suddenly into crystal-clear focus, like the beginning of the TV show the Outer Limits: the killers in Iraq have no political goal. That is not the point.
The point is to kill. They have invented a whole new kind of murder... they are serial spree killers.
Definitely worth reading, as are most of Daffyd's letters to bloggers. In fact they're usually the best parts of some of the more boring policy blogs. From Dean's World.