The anti-COIN beat goes on with Gian Gentile's latest - this time at War and Game.
Writing "current history" is not an easy task for historians because it involves delving into topics that are often loaded with domestic political implications. It also involves writing about people who are still active in the topic of the current history. Yet, it is very important for professional historians to bring their expertise to the field of current history, if for no other reason than to provide an important corrective to other accounts of the recent past by pundits, so-called experts, journalists, and bloggers of various shapes and sizes.
The war in Iraq is a perfect case in point. Already, a very misleading narrative has been created by memoirists, journalists, and others. That narrative goes like this: because of the U.S. Army's lack of counterinsurgency doctrine and preparation prior to the start of the war it fumbled at counterinsurgency after the fall of Baghdad in spring 2003 until the end of 2006. But then, as a result of newly written counterinsurgency doctrine and inspired leadership, plus an additional five U.S. combat brigades that all entered into the mix in early 2007, Iraq and the American army were rescued. This flawed narrative puts the U.S. Army and U.S. foreign policy on a trajectory toward more Iraqs and Afghanistans.
The interlocutors of this flawed narrative are legion. But a few examples of the texts, articles, and blog entries that have built the matrix-cum-metanarrative include Tom Ricks's Fiasco, published in 2006 (and one can only assume Ricks will add more force to the matrix in his forthcoming The Gamble); Steve Coll's recent lengthy and gushing article in the New Yorker on General David H. Petraeus ("The General's Dilemma," September 8, 2008); and Pete Mansoor's, John Nagl's, and Fred Kagan's numerous writings arguing that prior to the surge the U.S. Army just didn't "get it."
More at War and Game.
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq - Tom Ricks
The General's Dilemma - Steve Coll, The New Yorker
Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq - Pete Mansoor
Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power - Fred Kagan and Tom Donnelly