Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Independence day (really).
  2. Mr Zhovitis.
  3. A trial.
  4. A corruption test for Kurds in Iraq.
  5. On happiness.
  6. Considering Afghanistan … which brings one to be more confused as to why the COIN manual is not more widely read (and therefore discussed) … of its advice and recommendations taken.
  7. Torture works, see.
  8. Kindertotenlieder, in prose (that’s Gerrman for “Songs for Dead Children”, which is a Mahler song cycle).
  9. Heh.
  10. Organ tourism.
  11. Art and an ethical question.
  12. Self-deception and the Christian life.
  13. A historical tome on Lenin and the Church.
  14. Well, I for one hope the TSA doesn’t get the dreaded memo.

2 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. I quoted this article extensively in my post about Afghanistan a little while back. Here’s the section on COIN which I thought about including just for you, but decided against it as it was largely tangential to my point, which was War in Afghanistan Getting Bigger; Still Pointless:

    But I remain far from convinced that COIN is the right approach, especially when compared not to total U.S. withdrawal but to a more minimalist strategy. The attraction of COIN seems to derive from learning only partial lessons from Iraq — conveniently forgetting that the “surge” and COIN were only one of a number of factors contributing to the changing conditions there, along with the Sunni turn against al-Qaeda which long predated the “surge” and the near-completion of sectarian cleansing in many urban areas, and that its long-term success in Iraq is far from guaranteed. And Afghanistan, as should be obvious, is very different from Iraq. Its advocates argue that this simply means that the approach needs to be adapted to the local conditions and the mission adequately resourced. I’m not at all convinced.

    The author is a “non-resident senior fellow” of a think tank that specializes in counterinsurgency.

  2. JA,
    I get no impression that these people who talk about COIN have actually read the manual. The COIN manual repeatedly talks about non-military institutional factors which go hand in hand with the COIN action, and which, if these institutions are lacking must be done (less well) by the military. This is a recurrent theme. When people talk about COIN, yet fail to mention this aspect to developing needed COIN/asymmetric action in the future … the only conclusion that seems reasonable is that they didn’t really read it, but have heard some “ideas” about what the COIN manual is about and made some assumptions and are just using the word COIN to be buzzword compliant.

    For example further demonstration, your author writes:

    And Afghanistan, as should be obvious, is very different from Iraq. Its advocates argue that this simply means that the approach needs to be adapted to the local conditions and the mission adequately resourced. I’m not at all convinced.

    yet COIN is not “a strategy” it is a manual of guidelines and things to consider when developing a strategy. It is a lot more general than this writer pretends … which is another reason I suspect he didn’t read it.

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