Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"Counter Insurgency" as Myth

"BAGHDAD — A chilling series of fatal attacks across Iraq on Monday sent a disheartening message to the Iraqi and American governments: After hundreds of billions of dollars spent since the United States invasion in 2003, and tens of thousands of lives lost, insurgents remain a potent and perhaps resurging threat to Iraqis and the American troops still in the country."

This is from the NY Times, today, August 16, 2011 and it made me think of a book I read and even reread recently entitled "Deadly Paradigms" by D. Michael Shafer. It was published in 1988 and Shafer argues that counter insurgency never works and that where it appears to have worked, like the Philippines, the insurgency ended because of factors, variables that were outside of the counter insurgency paradigm. The subtitle of Shafer's book is "The Failure of U.S. Counterinsurgency Policy." And it would seem that, once again, we are being treated to an illustration of the strength of Shafer's argument. Note well just how deadly our counterinsurgency policies have been in Iraq, with "tens of thousands of lives lost...."

There is a song, old now, "Where have all the flowers gone?" which asks, "Where have all the young men gone?" and answers, finally, "gone to graveyards every one." And then it asks: "When will we ever learn?" I can say, sadly but honestly, "Not yet."

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