Hey Mister, Spare a COIN?
Truly excellent must-read over at the Christian Science Monitor on the nature of warfare in the 21st century and the intellectual dimensions concerning Afghan strategy. It covers the history of COIN (counterinsurgency doctrine), criticisms of said doctrine, its relationship to the Powell Doctrine/Vietnam, and its supporting grand strategic framework (see a particularly compelling question raised about COIN by Andrew Bacevich towards the end of the article). In a strange way I think COIN (the so-called “surge”) was not the biggest thing in Iraq, was not what brought the level of violence down (paying off Sunnis and the Shia ethnic cleansing of Baghdad did that) but it might actually work (kinda) in Afghanistan. Just not with the government side. Which, in other words, means it could succeed tactically and fail strategically. Which – if you are counting at home – is still failure.