Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Advice for General Petraeus

Advice for General Petraeus on the Rules of Engagement: It’s Neither/Nor, Not Either/Or by Juan Cole

"It’s time to stop talking about those rules and start talking about the madness of making counterinsurgency the American way of war. It wasn’t always so. Not so long ago, after all, it was considered a scandal that, post-Vietnam, the U.S. military rebuilt its all-volunteer force without rewriting or reconsidering its counterinsurgency manual.

... So, after being buried and disinterred, COIN, as its known, is once again the reigning monarch of American war-fighting doctrines as the Pentagon prepares for one, two, three Iraqs or Afghanistans — and the scandal is that (surprise, surprise!) it’s not working. This should, of course, hardly have been news. The history of counterinsurgency warfare isn’t exactly a success story, or our present COINistas wouldn’t have taken their doctrine largely from failed counterinsurgency wars in Vietnam and Algeria, among other places. It’s not so encouraging, after all, when the main examples you have before you are defeats."

I participated in the USMC Vietnam version of COIN in 67-68. It didn't work. The so-called friends we were making were giving detailed maps of our compounds to the VC, who continued to (savagely) rule the night.

To really understand all this is very, very simple: just imagine foreign soldiers walking your streets. What would you do?


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