Much has been written about counterinsurgency (COIN) strategies and tactics being used in Afghanistan and Iraq – or rather not. Back in my army days in Kandahar in 2007-2008, I remember commanders endlessy bragging about how “we totally nail that COIN thing”, keeping on gargling out quotes from the likes of COIN scholar David Galula, a French army officer who fought in the Algeria Independence War and is considered the leading COIN theoretician, cited as an inspiration to David Petraeus’ “Surge” strategy in Iraq which helped making that war a little less of a fiasco than it eventually became.
Except we weren’t. At all. This is the second of a three-part series of articles that addresses serious issues about the way US, Canadian and other NATO countries conducted what they thought were COIN operations and suggests new approaches that, in current and future conflicts, may improve efficiency and minimize civilian deaths so that wars can no longer be, in the words of my former PSYOPS platoon commander, “about buying time”.
Part 2 : Politics
In Ancient Times, the Roman Empire was built upon a succession of military conquests followed by the spread of their culture and technology – what they considered “civilization”. Famed political philosopher Montesquieu, whose theories inspired, among many things, the concept of separation of powers in several Western States including the US, once wrote in a work called Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline that “it should be noted that the main reason for the Romans becoming masters of the world was that, having fought successively against all peoples, they always gave up their own practices as soon as they found better ones”.