Eating Soup With A Knife

I wanted to write more about this but it’s getting too late, so I’ll just provide some links. Maj. John Nagl is not only a military man, but a student and scholar of war, specializing in dealing with insurgencies.

Here’s a bit on Nagl, who’s among the leaders of the counterinsurgency in Iraq:

Nagl is a gifted officer with the common sense not to confuse hopes with facts. He says he believes he is winning his war, and his grasp of the present, as well as of the past and the future, is as sharp as anyone’s. He knows, though, that the war will be messy and slow, as T.E. Lawrence warned, and he knows enough about wars to realize that the outcome is not assured. That is the nature of guerrilla wars, especially — they are chaotic and confused and only fools predict their results.

Yet if predicting the future is a hopeless endeavor, learning from the past is not. The counterinsurgency books that Nagl studied do impart an important lesson. The goal the United States hopes to reach in Iraq — a successful counterinsurgency that does not drag on for years and does not involve a large amount of killing — has never been achieved by any army.

Here’s to us setting a successful precedent in counterinsurgency.

Found via James, who knew Nagl. Read James’s comments.

UPDATE: I should add that you should read that whole excerpted article if you want to know what our soldiers are dealing with. Eating soup with a knife is an apt analogy, to put it mildly.

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