Weekend Reading and Listening Assignment

The Kilcullen Doctrine - Mark Safranski, ZenPundit.

While relatively short and designed, naturally, to help promote a book by a friend and CNAS colleague, Dr. Nagl has also taken a significant step toward influencing policy by distilling and reframing Dr. Klicullen's lengthy and detailed observations into a reified and crystallized COIN doctrine". A digestible set of memes sized exactly right for the journalistic and governmental elite whose eyes glaze over at the mention of military jargon and who approach national security from a distinctly civilian and political perspective.

New Doctrines Without Strategic Foundations - Raymond Pritchett, Information Dissemination.

I am not an expert on counterinsurgency, but ever since the surge and getting turned onto the topic by reading the Small Wars Journal, I have studied it enough to understand when COIN is and is not effective. I don't believe that COIN is a subject anyone will truly master without a great deal of regional centric training, education, and experience, although I really appreciate how many concepts of COIN scale in warfare, in particular the complicated discussions of how to operate military forces in populated environments (like the littoral).

Legal Advice From the Taliban - Patrick Devenny, FP's The Argument.

So far, NATO has responded to Taliban expansion by reinforcing its units in the area, boosting its firepower, and combating the poppy economy through interdiction and crop substitution. That's the easy part. The real challenge will come after territory is regained and NATO begins its fight for the population -- not just the land. To get this next phase right, NATO and its Afghan allies would do well to take a lesson from the force that has been managing much of the south for the last two years: the Taliban. Yes, time to take advice from the enemy. What methods of "guerrilla governance" are attracting the support of local populations? And how could NATO and Afghan forces use them to "clear, hold, and build?"

Pakistan on the Brink - Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books (Hat tip to Tom Ricks).

Pakistan is close to the brink, perhaps not to a meltdown of the government, but to a permanent state of anarchy, as the Islamist revolutionaries led by the Taliban and their many allies take more territory, and state power shrinks. There will be no mass revolutionary uprising like in Iran in 1979 or storming of the citadels of power as in Vietnam and Cambodia; rather we can expect a slow, insidious, long-burning fuse of fear, terror, and paralysis that the Taliban have lit and that the state is unable, and partly unwilling, to douse.

Petraeus: Video Shows Strike Aimed At Taliban - Steve Inskeep, NPR interview.

Gen. David Petraeus: I have. In fact, I was in Kabul the other night briefed by the brigadier general who I appointed to carry out an investigation of this particular incident, and there is indeed video from a B-1 Bomber that very clearly shows bombs hitting individuals who are the Taliban who are reacting to the movements of the Afghan and coalition forces on the ground.

What's Up With that "Global Engagement Directive"? - Marc Lynch, FP's Abu Aardvark.

The White House announced the other day that there would be a new desk at the National Security Council called the "Global Engagement Directive" which would take the lead in public diplomacy, international communications, foreign aid and other areas of engagement. This is a good move, which could potentially overcome a number of persistent problems in American public diplomacy and strategic communications.

5 Reasons Why this North Korean Crisis is No Groundhog's Day - Dan Twining, FP's Shadow Government.

North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, new threats of war against its declared enemies, and the predictable results of these developments -- expressions of concern at the UN Security Council, U.S. offers of more unconditional talks, China's ambivalent response - suggest that we remain in the Groundhog Day" cycle of crisis and response that has characterized U.S. policy towards Pyongyang since 1994. In fact, new dynamics on the peninsula and in the region, and the fresh opportunity provided by what can now clearly be judged to be years of failed policy on denuclearization and disarmament, present an opportunity for a creative rethink about U.S. policy options. To clarify a way forward, it's worth considering how the playing field has shifted (I see five ways that it has), and how this may create a different set of possibilities for the United States and our allies vis-í -vis the North Korean regime -- one that breaks decisively from the past and offers real hope for change.

Anything at Abu Muqawama.

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