We received this "Who's Who" current history recap out of the blue from Hamid
Hussain. He was born and raised in Peshawar, is an allergist by
profession, but has been unable to cure his affliction with military history.
That condition has been observed before on these premises. Hamid is now
freelancing and doing analysis on security issues in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and
the Middle East.
As for this piece, many of the players and muscle movements will be familiar
to regulars around here. For folks that haven't been following the story
for long, it's a handy recap and there are plenty of links to many of the
milestone articles. Here it is basically as received, with some minimal
tweaks to the links. Thanks, Hamid, and good luck with your new venture.
by Hamid Hussain
'It takes one madman to throw a stone down the well. It
takes ten wise persons to get it out'.
- A Persian proverb
In the last three years there has been a subtle shift in U.S. military
thinking where colonel level officers have come to the forefront of a debate
about ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of this debate is going
on the sidelines away from the media limelight but influence of some colonels is
being felt well beyond their rank. This article will summarize the background
of some of these mid-level officers and the important role they played in the
shift in Iraq policy as far as military operations are concerned. It will also
look at current ongoing contribution of these officers and point to some of the
potential pitfalls of solutions offered by these officers for a diverse and very
complex strategic environment.
Traditionally there are two types of mid level officers. One is 'commander'
type excelling in combat at company and battalion level but not having necessary
intellectual capacity to see the bigger picture. Other group is 'intellectual'
type having the capacity to think in various dimensions but are poor managers of
men therefore they are usually not successful in combat. The group under
discussion is unique in that they have not only excelled in combat but almost
all of them hold a PhD. These colonels have a rare combination of combat
experience along with impeccable academic credentials. They have been to the
hell hole in Iraq and saw their comrades killed and maimed partly due to the
inertia of their own higher command. The group has been given various titles
such as 'Council of Colonels', 'Brainiac Brigade', 'Patreaus's PhD Posse',
'Petraus's Guys' and 'Baghdad Brain Trust'. Former Army Chief of Staff General
Eric Shinseki was probably a bit ahead of his time. He was not convinced that
army was being trained for coming conflicts and he chose a retired colonel to
diagnose the malaise affecting the organization. In 2000, he asked retired
Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Wong to look at the overhaul of army training.
Shinseki liked Wong's findings and 'sent him into the lion's den of two-star
general's conference to present his findings'. (Dan Baum.
Battle Lessons. The New Yorker. January 17, 2005.) As expected this
did not stir any enthusiasm among the senior brass. Life was going on at a
usual pace in the army until it got its rude awakening when it was ordered into
Iraq in 2003.
Soldiers on the ground very quickly realized that all was not well after Iraq
invasion in 2003. It became quite clear to company and battalion commanders
that things were not going in the right direction, however they also noticed
that senior officers had no firm grip on the situation. Senior officers were
cowed down by abrasive Defense Secretary Donald Rusmfeld and most of them simply
kept their mouth shut. A group of thinking colonels started to voice their
opinions which were not in conformity with conventional wisdom. Except one,
none of them had any special academic interest in counterinsurgency. Their PhD
dissertations were about army budget cuts, infantry offensive in Europe in
Second World War, Thomas Jefferson and failure of senior brass in Vietnam. One
thing which was common among this group was the intellectual capacity to grasp a
rapidly changing battlefield which was unfolding in front of their eyes.
In 2006, one group of colonels was assembled as a study group on Iraq
strategy at Joint Chiefs when General Peter Pace was Chairman. In the ensuing
year, they contributed their input at various forums. In early 2007, a group of
colonels along with few other civilians was herded together under Joint
Strategic Assessment Team (JSAT) where they spent long hours debating all
Braniac Brigade). Goal of U.S. army at that time was to hand over to Iraqi
forces as soon as possible no matter whether they were ready or not and pull
back as country was sinking rapidly into a ferocious civil war. This group of
colonels convinced the senior brass about their case of abandoning the idea of
'commuter war'. U.S. soldiers were securely penned behind heavily fortified
large bases and they were commuting to battlefields in tanks and Bradley armored
vehicles with guns blazing and then coming back home in the evening to rest. In
the process they had only earned hatred of most neutral Iraqis who were on the
receiving end. The colonels advocated a bold albeit risky plan of sending
soldiers to live with Iraqi forces and in the neighborhoods to protect the
population. Majority of senior officers were not enthusiastic about sending
more troops which was in line with American public opinion. However President
George Bush was not —to scale back and this new idea was quickly embraced
The idea was fraught with dangers and in traditionally casualty averse senior
brass and American public it could have easily backfired. There was a distinct
possibility that new approach would expose U.S. soldiers to more harm and if
large number of soldiers were killed and wounded, the public support could have
evaporated more quickly. This could have then heralded a hasty and messy
retreat. However, at that particular time some senior officers feared a
'Vietnam style collapse' of the whole Iraq adventure and started to use the
dreadful F word of 'failure'. In the absence of any coherent plan of their own,
they concluded that the risk was worth taking.
A brief review of background of this group of colonels is essential to
understand how their thought process evolved in the middle of a sanguine war.
Lieutenant Colonel David Kilcullen is an Australian army officer. His
experience includes a short stint in East Timor after which he emerged as expert
on terrorist groups. In post-September 11 world, various security entities
began mushrooming in all departments of U.S. government, adding more bureaucracy
rather than fresh ideas. He landed in one of State Department's shop named
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism where he was Chief Strategist for
the office. In 2006, he wrote a mini counterinsurgency manual for company level
officers. (David Kilcullen. 'Twenty
Eight Articles: Fundamentals of Company-level Counterinsurgency'.
Military Review, Insights, May-June 2006, pp. 103-108.) He advised General
David Petraeus on various issues pertaining to Iraq war.
Colonel H. R. McMaster
served as Director of the Commander's Advisory Group at CENTCOM from 2003-2004.
He commanded 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Tal Afar area in 2005.
His bold initiative in the absence of higher command plan saved Tel Afar which
was then known as 'second Fallujah'.
This Sunday Times piece praised him stating that 'If there had been more
McMasters in Baghdad in the beginning, and less US hubris, Iraqis might be in a
far better position'. After a stint at International Institute for Strategic
Studies in London, he served as special assistant to General David Petraeus.
McMaster was passed over for promotion twice but finally in July 2008, he was
promoted to Brigadier rank and appointed director of newly created Army
Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) at US Army Training & Doctrine Command.
Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl is an armored corps officer who served with Ist
Battalion of 34th Armored Regiment in Iraq in early part of the war.
After Iraq tour, he served as an assistant to then Deputy Secretary of Defence
Paul Wolfowitz and commanded a battalion which trained U.S. soldiers for their
Iraq tour focusing on how to train Iraqi forces. He has decided to leave army
and join Center for a New American Security. Academically, his PhD dissertation
was about war in Malaya and Vietnam.
Colonel Peter Mansoor commanded Ist Brigade of Ist Armored Division in
Baghdad and spent a little over a year in combat zone in 2003-04. Later, he
served as director of Counterinsurgency Center at Fort Leavenworth and executive
officer of General Petraeus in Baghdad. Mansoor was not promoted to the next
rank and joined the faculty of Ohio State University. His PhD thesis was about
U.S. infantry offensive in Europe during Second World War. Colonel Michael
Meese is a gunner who has served as executive officer of Petraeus when later
served in Bosnia in 2001. In 2003, he was special advisor to then Major General
David Petraeus who was commanding 101st Airborne in Mosul in the
early stages of Iraq war. On academic side he is an economist and currently
deputy head of Social Science Department of Military Academy at West Point.
Colonel Sean McFarland commanded Ist Brigade of Ist Armored Division in
Ramadi in 2006. On his own initiative, he focused on counterinsurgency measures
rather than blindly following senior commanders obsession of 'capture and kill'
strategy. He was serving as commander, Joint task Force North at US Northern
Command when he was
promoted to the rank of Brigadier in July 2008. Lieutenant Colonel Charles
Miller joined 3rd Battalion of 187th Infantry Regiment
where his first commanding officer was then Lieutenant Colonel David Petraeus.
His PhD dissertation was about doctrinal changes in U.S. army. In 2004, he
became executive officer of Lieutenant General David Petraeus who was then
heading Multi National Security Transition Command responsible for training
Iraqi security forces and police. Petraeus called him back to Iraq during the
surge where he served as Deputy Director of Commander's Initiatives Group and in
this capacity was an influential member of the group of colonels advising about
the changed course. Since early 2008, he has been working as special assistant
to the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen.
Lieutenant Colonel Douglas A. Ollivant served as the operations officer for
Ist Battalion of 5th Cavalry Regiment in the tough neighborhoods of
Baghdad, Najaf and Fallujah. Later, he became Chief of Plans of Multi-National
Division in Baghdad and in this capacity was the chief architect of the security
plan for Baghdad. He is now Director of Iraq on the National Security Council.
Rapp is an Engineers officer with PhD from Stanford University. He served
in Iraq with 101st Airborne Division in North where he commanded 555
Combat Engineer Group. He was a key player of the in house team assembled by
Petraeus. He served as Director of Commander's Initiatives Group from February
2007-February 2008 which was advisory group for Petraeus in Iraq executing the
surge. Lieutenant Colonel William Ostlund commanded 2nd Battalion of
503rd Infantry Regiment (part of 173rd Airborne Brigade
Combat Team) in Eastern Afghanistan. In July 2008,
nine soldiers of Ostlund's battalion were killed in an attack on the forward
post in Wanat in eastern Afghanistan. Lieutenant Colonel Jen Easterly
contributed to the deliberations for senior brass and his input was likely about
the role of computers and internet in the operation. He served as director's
fellow for the National Security Agency and in July 2008 took command of the
newly raised Army Network Warfare Battalion (ANWB).
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling's case is most important. He is an
artilleryman and has served two tours in Iraq. First tour was with an artillery
battalion which was involved in training Iraqi security forces. Second time, he
served as deputy commander of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2005.
Yingling holds masters degree from University of Chicago. In May 2007, he
published an article in Armed Forces Journal titled 'A
Failure in Generalship' accusing senior brass of failing the nation and the
army. He commented that 'the system that produces our generals does little to
reward creativity and moral courage.' The piece itself was astonishing as well
as the fact that an important army journal decided to publish it. An Iraq
veteran and history professor at West Point Colonel Matthew Moten
stated that Yingling was 'speaking some truths that most of us talk about
over beers' but 'very few of us have the courage or foolhardiness to put them in
print'. To the credit of the army rather than ending his career which many
expected, he was given a seat at the table of debate. The institutional
response to Yingling's piece shows the approach of different segments of the
organization. Fort Hood Commandant Major General Jeff Hammond assembled about
200 Captains to announce that 'Colonel Yingling wasn't competent to judge
generals because he had never been one and has never worn the shoes of a
general'. Colonel Kevin Benson of Army's School for Advanced Military Studies
which trains best Majors of the army for future dropped all lesson plans and let
his students discuss Yingling's article. Yingling co-authored with Lieutenant
Colonel John Nagl few pieces about counterinsurgency tactics. (New
Rules for New Enemies. Armed Forces Journal, October 2006, and
the Long War: A New Mission in COIN. Field Artillery Magazine.
Lieutenant Colonel Gian P. Gentile is among the minority of colonels who
warns against drinking too much from the goblet of counterinsurgency and a
critic of his counterinsurgency enthusiast colleagues. He has doctorate in
history from Stanford and teaches at West Point. He has served two tours in
Iraq. He argues that decrease in violence in Iraq is mainly due to paying off
Sunni insurgents and unilateral ceasefire of Muqtada al-Sadr's Jaish-al-Mahdi
militia and not due to 'surge' (Misreading
the Surge Threatens U.S. Army's Conventional Capabilities, World Politics
Review). He warns that counterinsurgency gurus are advocating a narrative
which 'resurrects dubious battlefield lessons from the past -- Vietnam,
principally -- applies them to Iraq, and extrapolates from there into an unknown
(Slightly) Better War: A Narrative and Its Defects. World Affairs).
He is not —to accept the success of the surge although in 2006 what he
wished has now been achieved. He wrote then that, 'The war I faced was an
insurgency within a civil war. I wish it had been the other way around. Had it
been a civil war within an insurgency, the extremes could have been targeted and
controlled and the large center of the people moved toward local compromise' (In
the Middle of a Civil War. The Washington Post, August 07, 2007).
The civil war within insurgency occurred when tribal and nationalist element
broke with Al-Qaeda in Iraq and turned on extremists. This also gave U.S. army
the opportunity to tame Shia militias and at least a temporary compromise has
been reached. However, we should be aware of the fact that ethnic and sectarian
communities have been consolidated in their own respective areas after
'cleansing' with few mixed areas left which was also a contributing factor in
decreasing the ferocity of the fratricidal war among Iraqis.
We are walking into a dangerous arena if we over simply the past experience
by arguing that Vietnam was lost due to bad tactics and if we had a good cook
book of a counterinsurgency manual we could have won it. And now that we have
mastered a cook book we can simply march into any country whenever we want.
Gentile is not —to give surge the credit it deserves, however he also has
a point. In this regard, colonel Gentile is correct when he states about
Vietnam that 'we lost it for reasons having less to do with tactics than with
the will, perseverance, cohesion, indigenous support, and sheer determination of
the other side, coupled with the absence of any of those things on the American
side'. (Gentile. A (Slightly) Better War, World Affairs) Similarly, if
we learn a wrong lesson from Iraq, we risk a much greater danger in the future
military posture. In any foreign adventure, no matter how we present it, a
large number of people of host country and world opinion will consider presence
of U.S. troops as an occupation force. We have the luxury of using euphemisms of
'host nation' but in reality counterinsurgency gurus are advocating occupation
of lands of other people. Many of these countries are very fragile and
sometimes our own ill thought actions generate new waves of complex violent
paroxysms. Our ill fated entry into Iraq generated a tsunami of hatred among the
Muslim world. The result was radicalization of hitherto neutral Muslim
populations all over the world. The anger and sense of humiliation generated
meteors traveling in all directions and the result was horrific bombings in
London and Spain.
First rule of the game is to see things as they are and try not to create an
alternative reality which fits into our own narrative. The plain fact is that
we are not welcome in many parts of the world in any capacity let alone
tolerance of our heavily armed troops knocking at doors of other people. It is
crucial that information is two way to include narratives from other societies
and cultures to understand their point of view whether we agree with it or not.
Current input from some dedicated officers is valuable in extracting ourselves
from a difficult situation but we should not loose the sight and still need to
focus on the central theme of how not to get into the mess in the first place.
Americans have very little interaction at a level where others can express their
opinions freely. The sources of information from 'other side' on the basis of
which we are drawing our conclusions are based on opinions of some 'overrated
natives' (a group of Americans of Arab or Afghan descent) or people who are
actively competing with each other for political and economic resources in Iraq
and Afghanistan and using us for their own reasons.
One flaw in most of the writings of these new military counterinsurgency
experts is that their narrative is being woven in a vacuum. They are letting
their imagination run wild and simply adding a long laundry list of
restructuring of the army and personnel training. Any end needs to be carefully
balanced with means and we can not keep checking on 'to do list' without paying
attention to the political, social and economic landscape of our country.
Asking a platoon and company commander to be master of language and culture,
negotiator, diplomat, economic advisor as well as a first rate soldier is quite
a tall order. Nagl and Yingling created a new acronym SWEAT-MS which stands for
Sewer, Water, Electricity, Academics, Trash, Medical and Security. (Nagl &
Yingling. FA in COIN) We are churning so many acronyms that very soon army will
have its own encyclopedia of acronyms. They are advocating that a low and mid
level officer should be trained to be an academic, electrician, plumber and
garbage collector in an alien country. He is expected to learn things in few
years which will need a life time. General Abraham Roberts spent fifty years in
India and his son Field Marshal Frederick Roberts spent forty two years in
India. Between father and son it comes out to be ninety two years which helped
British to embark on significant social engineering projects in alien lands. We
are sending young men for twelve months rotations and expecting the same
results. The means simply don't match the goals.
Advocates of counterinsurgency need to streamline their thought process.
Their long list for army overhaul includes making it more decentralized, adding
combined arms battalions, making the officers not only good at shooting but also
proficient in languages and culturally adept to little known societies all
around the globe. These are all fine ideas but they need to be put in a proper
perspective. In addition, some first criticize army for being too specialist
oriented and not well rounded but then turn around and advocate raising a whole
new corps of super specialist advisors consisting of no less than 20,000
soldiers (see Lt. Colonel John A. Nagl and Lt. Colonel Paul L. Yingling.
Enemies. Armed Forces Journal, October 2006, and
Interview of Lt. Colonel John Nagl with Laura Rozen, Mother Jones,
October 18, 2007). On one hand, they advocate that the basic tenet of
counterinsurgency is to empower central government and make it supreme not only
in coercive power but also in political and economic arenas. This they consider
essential to overcome competing tribal, sectarian and ethnic power centers.
Then in a one hundred and eighty degree turn, they applaud arming and directly
paying tribal and sectarian militias which operate in their own fiefdoms
completely out of control of central government. (For this see view see
Lieutenant Colonel Douglas A. Ollivant and Captain Eric D. Chewning.
Producing Victory: A 2007 Postscript for Implementation. Military Review,
March-April 2007) Now that General Petraeus is heading CENTCOM, it is likely
that same recipe of directly arming and supporting tribal groups is being
contemplated for Pakistan's turbulent tribal areas.
We always need to look at the strategic landscape which is indeed complex.
Risk benefit analysis of any action needs to be more thorough and methodical
taking into consideration different views to limit negative fall out. A good
example is wholesale use of Predator attacks inside Pakistan. We have been able
to eliminate some extremists but in the process we have also made the position
of Pakistan government very precarious. It is like pulling the rug from under
the feet of political and military leadership of Pakistan. Our dilemma is that
to achieve some immediate tactical gains we end up speeding up the process of
fragmentation of fragile societies. We then turn around to try to put back the
humpty dumpty so that non-state actors do not operate freely in the ungovernable
areas. These actions are a good example of self fulfilled prophecies. These
countries have enormous social, economic, political and security problems. They
are going to tackle them in their own way and go through social upheaval and
fight their own civil wars. If we directly insert ourselves in this complex
equation, we will get all the blame for everything wrong and no credit for
anything which goes well. We will surely be spending our blood and treasure in
a thankless job.
There needs to be a clear differentiation between conventional war,
insurgency and fight against extremism perpetrated by non-state actors. Our
major focus should be on tackling threats from extremist groups for which we
have to look for different tools in our tool box. The fight against extremists
will be fought by bridging gulfs between nation states, solving existing
conflicts, preventing new conflicts, forging regional cooperation and developing
close working relations between intelligence agencies. American people want a
safe and secure environment but the very temperament of American people is not
conducive for such neo-colonial concepts even if we are able to co-opt some
liberal human right activists or intellectuals from liberal east coast
universities (Columbia University held a reunion of its graduates in the Green
Zone in Baghdad). Military obviously has a very important role in the national
security but we have to come up with a better model.
There are some disturbing signals that we are not paying attention to
feelings of common man on the streets of Middle East. Steve Coll of New Yorker
confronted Petraeus about views of some that current U.S. posture in the
region resembles very closely with colonial era where expeditionary forces were
followed by civilians to administer the region. Petraeus didn't address a very
important question which is the talk of the town in every café in the Middle
East and dismissed the notion stating that at a certain point you have to ask
"let's take the rearview mirrors off the bus". Petraeus is happy to use
Lawrence of Arabia's methodology who was responsible for restructuring of modern
middle east for British colonial empire and work of Captain David Galula of
French army on French Algeria; the last battle of French colonialism. However,
he does not want to acknowledge the obvious similarities of these past efforts
with his own projects in Iraq and Afghanistan. In any strategy prevalent
perceptions no matter how unpalatable need to be seriously studied rather than
A small group of colonels who had participated in combat in Iraq in very
difficult circumstances had the intellectual capacity to comprehend the gross
mishandling of war effort by senior brass. Most importantly, they had the moral
courage to stand up and express their views quite divergent from the senior
brass. Senior military brass in the run up to Iraq war and in its conduct of
operation was a dismal failure. They failed not only the preparation and
competency test but most importantly failed the moral courage test. To the
credit of the army as an institution, it turned over 'the war to its dissidents,
who have criticized the way the service has operated there the past three years'
and then literally let them 'try to wage the war their way'. (Thomas E. Ricks.
Officers with PhDs Advising War Effort. The Washington Post)
Breaking down many taboos, a batch of colonels was allowed to express themselves
freely and according to Colonel Peter Mansoor, "You had colonels challenging the
thinking of four-star generals and admirals". (Steve Coll.
General's Dilemma. The New Yorker) This is truly unprecedented not
only in U.S. army but it will be hard to find such an example in modern military
history. Some of these colonels are now advising General Petraeus in his new
position of command of critical CENTCOM. Colonel Peter Mansoor has been asked
now to look at the wider horizons in the area of responsibility of CENTCOM.
In the years to come, when operational details of the surge are declassified
then a clear picture will emerge about the role of the colonels in this
endeavor. No matter what is the outcome of the Iraq war, at least at tactical
levels, the impact of this 'colonel's intellectual coup' will be felt in U.S.
army for the coming decades. However, we will be deluding ourselves if we do
not fully comprehend limitations of the case presented by the colonels. It is
at best a tactical recipe to get out of a messy situation with least damage.
Each colonel brings a sack of leaves to the table which he has carefully
collected and catalogued from his respective tree. Now we have several sacks of
different varieties of leaves on the table along with flashy power point
presentations which can overawe anyone. However, we will still need someone way
above among the senior military and political leadership to look at these sacks
in their proper perspective and not to confuse these sacks with real jungle.
There is a clear and present danger of militarizing our foreign policy if
current thought process gains traction at higher echelons of armed forces.
General David Petraeus achieved a remarkable tactical respite in Iraq and he
showed true leadership skills by bringing diverging opinions to the table.
However, now that Petraeus has found the right hammer in the tool box to address
the Iraq conundrum, he needs to tread carefully. There is a risk that by
bringing a group of people with similar ideas in the inner circle, his close
advisors may become an echo chamber, a charge which was leveled at senior brass
earlier. If he carry's the same hammer now as CENTCOM commander and start to
use this hammer for a different job in troubled border areas of Pakistan, then
he may be remembered as the general responsible for unleashing the 'mother of
chaos' by destabilizing Pakistan. If 'Anbar model' is replicated in
Pakistan's border areas without serious and in depth analysis then there is a
clear and present danger of sending the instability on a new trajectory thus
setting the stage for a conflict which may last for at least a generation. The
situation is very difficult and complex but if in the quest of stabilizing
Afghanistan, Petraeus ends up destabilizing Pakistan, then he may surely bring
strategic disaster for U.S. national security interests. Pakistan is surely
responsible for some of its ills but some of our actions are adding fuel to the
fire and Pakistanis are paying a very heavy price. Large number of Pakistanis
both soldiers and civilians are being killed and maimed in steadily escalating
violence and majority of Pakistanis hold us responsible for this. No matter how
aseptically we think about military affairs, we need to consider the human
suffering and can not absolve ourselves. A more cooperative approach between
United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan and brining others such as Russia, China
and even Iran to the table to focus on common interests is the way forward.
It looks like that everybody is jumping on the already crowded train of
counterinsurgency. We are witnessing the process of establishment of a
'counterinsurgency theme park' with a huge bureaucracy of its own. In no time,
this will become another expensive fixture in Pentagon and vendors and purveyors
of its ideas and products will be traveling salesmen of their products. At
strategic level, if political and military leadership for a minute thinks that
we have mastered the art of counterinsurgency, they may get some delusional
ideas in their heads which can send the nation to a real disaster. At strategic
level, still U.S. interests are best served by a little pull back rather than
thrusting ourselves more deeper into un chartered territories. Strategic myopia
of our political leadership coupled with lack of moral courage of military
leadership has brought us to our current strategic cul de sac. We need to
ponder and reflect more; otherwise we risk political, economic and military
bankruptcy in near future making us more vulnerable rather than secure.
War against extremism will be won by earning respect of others and in this an
ounce of humility will help us more than anything else. Chinese philosopher and
strategist Sun Tzu said long time ago that 'You don't want to go to bed at night
with more enemies than you started with in the morning.' Friends are gained by
understanding others and focusing on common interests. Respect is earned not
demanded and these are the tools which will be needed to isolate extremists. A
large part of this war will be fought in the shadows. If we approach in this
way, then we need not to patrol the dusty roads in God forsaken lands all around
the globe. In the newly found gospel of counterinsurgency, it is stated that
counterinsurgency is twenty percent military and eighty percent political
endeavourer. By this standard, the fight against extremism is less than five
percent military and more than ninety five percent intelligence and building
alliances across various divides. Even these new apostles of counterinsurgency
know the dangers as one of them colonel H. R. McMaster said, 'It is so damn
complex. If you ever think you have the solution to this, you're wrong, and
you're dangerous. You have to keep listening and thinking and being critical
and self-critical'. (George Packer.
of Tal Afar. The New Yorker, April 10, 2006.) Recent U.S.
presidential elections have generated a wave of hope all around the globe.
President elect Barrack Obama will be well served by national security advisors
who bring fresh ideas to the table. We have already squandered international
goodwill generated in the aftermath of September 11 attacks. It will be tragic
if we do it again in eight short years and in that case history will not judge
us with kindness.
Victory in the true sense implies that the state of peace, and of one's
people, is better after the war than before. B.H. Liddell Hart
Dr. Hamid Hussain is an independent analyst based in New York. He is
an American of Pakistani origin with interest in security affairs of
Afghanistan, Pakistan and Middle East. He is President of Coeus Consultants
LLC, a private consulting firm specializing in military and security issues of
Middle East, Pakistan & Afghanistan. For corrections, comments & critique