Electric Politics
 
Donate to Electric Politics
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank
Blank
Green Party USA
Blank
Socialist Worker
Blank
CoffeeGeek.com
Blank
Grist
Blank
Whole Foods
Blank
Whole Foods
Blank
Ben & Jerry's
Blank
Al Jazeera English
Blank
911Truth.org
Blank
Sierra Trading Post
Blank
Black Commentator
Blank
Black Commentator
Blank
Pluto Press
Blank
In These Times
Blank
USNI
Blank
In These Times
Blank
CASMII
Blank
CounterPunch
Blank
CounterPunch
Blank
News For Real
Blank
News For Real
Blank
If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger
Blank
News For Real
Blank
The Agonist
Blank
The Anomalist
Blank
Duluth Trading
Blank
Digital Photography Review
Blank
New Egg
Blank
Free Link

EP PODCASTSXML

September 13, 2013

Wrong Turn

Wrong Turn coverThe notion that America can fix politics in the Middle East or anywhere else is laughable. It won't happen through our good example, and especially not through war. Unless, that is, we were prepared to take over the government of Bamboozlestan and occupy the place for several generations, which we're not. To explain how U.S. military doctrine became fatally flawed regarding counterinsurgency strategy I turned to Col. Gian Gentile, Ph.D., a professor at West Point and author of Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency. Thanks, Gian, for your most helpful insights! Total runtime forty six minutes. Obscūrum per obscūrius.

Listen

« But For The Intercept | Main | Purge the Generals »



Comments


George,

The British counterinsurgency efforts in Malaysia are often held up as an example of "how to do it right." This campaign discussed in your podcast.

While the Brits did manage to get many things right, one overlooked factor in their success was the ethnic makeup of the opposing forces. The vast majority of the communist insurgents and their supporters were Chinese. The vast majority of those opposing the communist insurgency were Malay.

It was (relatively) easy to identify who was or was not likely to be for or against the communist insurgency. As such, the number of incidences where shootings by the Brits of those sympathetic or at least passive to the British role was rather limited. The Brits did not create new enemies by the shooting of innocents or passive observers.

In Iraq, Vietnam, Bosnia, Afghanistan, etc. it is/was hard for the non-expert observer to determine if the man/woman/child in front of you is likely to have pro or anti insurgency views.

This is not to take away from the British efforts, but life is easier when you can tell which team the players support.

[Thanks, Tom -- good points, and helpful, coming from someone who was in Bosnia at the time and has been in SE Asia. g.]

One long time listener, a retired US Army Colonel with senior civilian experience in the national security bureaucracy, tells me that initially Gian and I are talking past each other. This is true. Gian speaks to his point that only in the very long run could COIN be a success and that, strategically, the US does not have the vision or will to pursue a very long run plan. On that note I dropped my theoretical objection that a non-democratic polity, like the one we have in America, could ever impose a stable political system in a colonial satrapy. But the paradox remains. And thinking about it I suppose the converse is also a problem, viz. France and Algeria, specifically the averting in 1958 by General De Gaulle of a military coup. Maintaining a colonial satrapy also may well, in the very long run, always or almost always prove incompatible with maintaining a democracy at home.

Leave a comment