Friday, February 13, 2009

Success means crisis?

The latest incarnations of Masters of the Universe, at least in their own minds, are the so-called COIN (counter insurgency) experts. A number of them roost over at abu muqawama, where, apart from cutely referring to themselves in the third person, they take turns slapping each other on the back for all the great successes recently in our excellent adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This post is of some interest, it seems they had a bash over at the Center for a New American Security to help launch Thomas Ricks' new book, Gamble, and the COIN crowd was there in force. CNAS seems to be the new, hot think tank, putting people into the Obama administration's FP team, and probably getting some big money. Ricks is now a member, and his latest boosterism of Petraeus and Odierno fits in well with the COIN people.

Someone there asked this question, more or less, as recounted by abu himself:
"The successes of Iraq have given rise to some very prominent and powerful officers in the U.S. Army. Has one of the side effects of the development of counter-insurgency theory been a new crisis in political-military relations?" (This is the question as I remember it and was probably not what Thomas said. But I think the "soldier and the state" question post-Iraq is a really good one.)
Calling Iraq a success demands some curious reasoning, what with 144,000 troops still there, but the idea that it might cause a new crisis in political-military relations pushes against some boundries that most military people usually don't want to go. As we've seen, Petraeus has already shown some distain for the chain of command, are his latest 'successes' going to push him further down that road? The reactions in comments at abu muqawama indicate that if he does, the COIN people are going to be behind him. If I were Obama, I be careful about these CNAS appointments, and make sure they know who they are working for.


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