Much Small Wars food for thought over at Kings of War in post Greece and Rome in Iraq.
Who's good at small wars?
The answer is still debated, but the question endures because it goes to the heart of Atlantic relations and British identity...
This is an argument about a lot of things. About history: the British fought many insurgencies. So too did America, as Max Boot shows. American has a whole heritage of small wars, won and lost, it could draw on. But Britain prides itself on a depth of experience and inherited wisdom. One only has to start talking about COIN and the reverent names of Malaya and Templer are summoned.
Its also an argument about Britain's place in the world. More bluntly, about the eclipse of British global power. Its empire lost, its armed forces shrunk, and its strategic role and identity ambiguous, the complex business of patrolling frontiers overseas has become a site through which Britons (and Americans) articulate a relationship between the old hegemon and the new.
There are, in fact, good reasons to doubt whether anyone really has a natural expertise at counter-insurgency. Who is intuitively good at eating soup with a knife?