Friday, June 25, 2010
The Cult of Counterinsurgency | The American Prospect
Counterinsurgency means an attempt to defeat guerilla fighters who hide among a civilian population over an extended period of time, "low-intensity conflicts," French in Algeria, the British in Malaysia, and the Soviets in Afghanistan
current U.S. strategy based on French and English doctrine as well as Vietnam.
special allure for liberal writers because it offers a holistic approach, win the hearts and minds, transform autocratic governments into ones that respect human rights, women's education, and the rule of law.
Skeptics say warfare of the nastiest, most brutal kind, and it lasts for years and years. In the early days of Iraq, it was used on an ad-hoc basis to build relationships with local civilians in order to track down insurgents
It wasn't until Abu Ghraib scandal of 2004, Haditha in 2005 the need arose to re-evaluate wanton violence among some units. the dismal state of the war prompted Petraeus. In February 2006, Petraeus hosted a workshop, co-sponsored by Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights
in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
In COIN, civilian and military activities are integrated, cooperate with humanitarian workers in an effort to win over the local population, employs anthropological tools that map social networks
"the surge." to Iraq in 2007. The Washington Post Bob Woodward says High-Value Targeting, Anbar Awakening paying 100,000 individuals $300 a month. And Sunni tribal sheikhs make millions more through U.S. contracts. pullback by Muqtada al-Sadr.
These disparate elements have come together and tamped down the bloodshed
Still, the conventional wisdom is that Iraq has improved because of the new approach.
John Nagl does not like the word "colonialism, whether it is called neocolonialism or counterinsurgency, will be applied in various regions over the next several years.
The thinking man's war has a chapter on morals and values, big on hearts and minds. It has its own subculture, the rock stars (Nagl and Kilcullen celebrity couple (Kilcullen and Janine Davidson, author of the forthcoming book The Fog of Peace, a guru (Petraeus), and a cult-classic film (Battle of Algiers), a magazine (Small Wars Journal)
Nagl stands out. Counterinsurgency, as Nagl explains, is "80 percent political, 20 percent military." (He is quoting David Galula, "the Clausewitz of counterinsurgency. It could be modeled on the Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support, or CORDS which coordinated military and civil affairs in Vietnam.
Troops are studying manuals on cultural awareness and learning the basics of Islam. They are also learning how to fight in a civilian environment
The Marines are engaged, openly and passionately, in a discussion set in an empirically based field of study. Yet somehow they remind me of the guys in Reservoir Dogs -- jewelry thieves who join in a textual analysis of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" while sitting in a diner.
Counterterrorism is "the long war," and counterinsurgency is part of this effort. semantics matter. in Baghdad, they could find an insurgent or a terrorist.
counterinsurgency may also involve dirty tactic "the dark side." In Vietnam, "the dark side" was Operation Phoenix or the getting rid of Viet Cong leaders "by any means necessary, it was part of the CORDS program.
underlying ideas of Operation Phoenix have worked their way back into the U.S. military. The Iraq-era version of this is known as High-Value Targeting, house raids, "snatch missions," it used to be carried out by Special Forces only. Now, all troops conduct them. U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan have increased, "If you kill a very large number of civilians, you'll cow a population,"
Luttwak of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. It depends on how much "blood and treasure" you put into it. He is the author of Coup d'État: A Practical Handbook, says U.S. troops should pull out of Afghanistan
I've been to Afghanistan. Basically, you'd have to kill every single Afghan and take all the children and put them in boarding school, preferably in England."
current policy, less about making the world safe for democracy than making the world safe for U.S. economic and political interests