Thursday, February 28, 2008

COIN's demise

The mega-trends of an insurgency are well described by W. Polk in the book I linked to below. But the day to day process of advancing and retreating fortunes are what our politicians depend on for their narrative of victory and defeat.

John McCain was on the losing side of the insurgency he faced as a combatant, but his sunny optimism about the current conflict (100 more years!) has been bolstered by the slick propaganda operation known as 'The Surge'.

Global Guerrillas points to an article by unembedded journalist Nir Rosen, The Myth of the Surge, and then points out:
This situation puts the US military in a difficult position, one that goes deeper than being caught on the horns of dilemma (as in: caught between supporting "former" insurgents or government forces). The improvised theory that led the US military to fund the insurgency (the "Awakening") has transformed the US Counter-Insurgency doctrine (COIN) -- a document was so carefully prepared and announced with such fanfare -- into a mere pile of paper. Why? Because we have abandoned the doctrine's binding assumption: that everything we do in counter-insurgency should increase the legitimacy of the host government. Essentially, the abandonment of our doctrine means that the US military is now completely adrift in Iraq without a counter-insurgency roadmap.
As usual, the guiding compass for actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere is domestic politics. The mess worsens, becomes more complicated and expensive, but the press has stopped talking about Iraq. Victory!

Speaking of Kosovo, the recent recognition by the the US and the EU of Kosovo's independence could easily lead to another insurgency. William Lind's article Kosovo: Fools rush in discusses the mess being created there. Lind proposes a conference to defuse the Balkans, but we know that Feckless Leader doesn't do conferences, unless they're useless, such as Annapolis.


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