The war we are fighting in Iraq

David Kilcullen, an advisor working with Gen. Petraeus, appeared on Charlie Rose this past Friday. He is an expert in counterinsurgency, and has studied Islamic insurgencies in particular. For all those who are wondering how we’re going to succeed in Iraq, they should pay attention to what Kilcullen says.

The picture he paints is another facet of this “different kind of war”. One of the facts he lays out straight away is that “insurgents usually lose”. Historically 80% of insurgencies have been defeated. He said it’s a myth in this country that insurgencies can’t be defeated. The question is are we willing to do what’s necessary in the time that’s necessary to do it.

He basically says the war in Iraq will be won by a two-prong approach, using the military for security, and using our diplomacy for political stability. It’s not one or the other. While the Iraqi national government is getting its legs, we’re also working town by town, province by province to set up strong civil institutions that can repel the insurgents by themselves. He said it’s going to take a while, but he also said we might be able to leave before the insurgency is defeated, leaving it for the Iraqi government to finish. There is historical precedence for that.

I like that Kilcullen has a can-do attitude. He “knows this beast” and has ideas for how we can defeat it so we can leave.


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