03 August, 2008

Learning from history

From the Washington Independent:
After nearly seven years of costly strategic ignorance in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a coming handbook written mostly by a former top aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus seeks to instruct senior civilian policy-makers about the complexities of counterinsurgency.


Asked for comment, the handbook's chief author, David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who is now an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, explained that it tells policy-makers to "think very, very carefully before intervening." More bluntly, Kilcullen, who helped Petraeus design his 2007 counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, called the decision to invade Iraq "stupid" -- in fact, he said "fucking stupid" ** -- and suggested that if policy-makers apply the manual's lessons, similar wars can be avoided in the future.

If we (re)learn some important lessons about the nature and limits of power, perhaps something good will come out of the war.

(Thanks to Fabius Maximus for the pointer.)

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