Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A (Slightly) Better War: A Narrative and Its Defects

Gian Gentile has this essay on the "surge" in World Affairs Journal, via the Washington Independent's Spencer Ackerman.
"...For surge enthusiasts, there is no such thing as declaring victory too soon. Historically, in order for a counterinsurgency to succeed, the counterinsurgent force must operate in a society with a relatively cohesive identity and alongside a government that possesses at least some measure of legitimacy—two conditions plainly spelled out in the new counterinsurgency manual. Neither apply to Iraq, where ministries operate by sect rather than by function, sectarian hatreds have gone well beyond the point where “hearts and minds” campaigns will dampen them, and only a decades-long American occupation can prevent the country from coming apart at the seams. We are fighting an insurgency; they are fighting a civil war. In 2006, a Sunni brigade commander in the Iraqi National Police (a rarity in the Shia-dominated force) told me, shortly after the destruction of the Samarra mosque, that it would take “400 years” for Iraq to resolve this war. Recent history suggests that for Americans even ten years might be too long..."

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