It feels like forever, but it's only been six months since I started following "counterinsurgency" philosophy as particularly hyped by our top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A.McChrystal. Then again, it's only been six months since McChrystal got the top job. In that time, he has made a point of publicly and frequently broadcasting -- trumpeting -- the US COIN strategy of "population protection" at the expense of "force protection" (many of his statements soundly thrashed here), that fuels the infidel fantasy of winning Islamic hearts and minds across Dar al-Islam.
(Worked out so well in Iraq -- not.)
Of course, COIN is not McChrystal's invention. Gen. David Petraeus and friends wrote the book . But, as Ralph Peters put it to me, "This manual is a snake that needs to be killed dead."
Not happening. And McChrystal is only further elaborating on the part-Amazing-Kreskin, part-transcendental virtues of COIN strategy, most recently for Der Spiegel.
I think he's starting to sound a little, well, far out. A sample:
At the end of the day, a counter-insurgency is decided by people's perceptions and by how people feel.
"How people feel." See what I mean?
It's not about destroying the enemy's cities. It's not even about destroying their army, their fighters. ...It's really about convincing the people that they want it to stop and they ultimately will.
Wow. But in that case, why send in the Marines?
In a counter-insurgency, your security ultimately comes from the people because they help deny the insurgents support, then they provide you intelligence. Here is the conflict. To protect yourself perfectly, you get behind big forts, you wear body armor and travel in armored vehicles.
That is so, like, military-industrial-complex.
But then you can't interact with people.
And you thought there was some military objective behind the deployment of the US military to Afghanistan! No, it's all about an infidel-Islamic interaction strategy based on giving away major stuff in exchange for hearts and minds. Back to the general's mantra:
And if you can't interact with people, the people will not protect you ultimately. If you want to swim, you have to let go of the side of the pool.You have to get in and amongst the people and build that relationship. In the long run you will suffer fewer casualties and you'll be more successful.
At least, you'll know how to swim.
But about those "fewer casualties" in the "long run," which, according to COIN theory (uh-oh), are supposed to result from further reducing civilian casualties in the short term. McChrystal was asked the directive he issued in July calling for troops to show "restraint" under fire. He explained:
That tactical directive was designed not just to give people specific guidelines, but to give them intent. That was to explain that killing the enemy was not the best route to success. If you kill two enemy fighters who are in somebody's house, and in doing so you destroy their house, then the individuals who own the house probably have very conflicted feelings about whether you did the right thing. If you take an action that has the risk of harming civilians, you have to carefully consider that decision, because you can't bring a civilian who has been killed back to life.
You can't bring a soldier who has been killed back to life, either, but the general didn't mention that.
Do most people realize how extraordinary it is to have a top American general -- not some Leftist professor -- value their civlian lives over our military lives?