Building on 2 blunders: the dubious case for counterinsurgency

Stephen M. Walt. Foreign Policy, 16 November 2009.

Editor’s Comment

Walt makes a fundamental strategic point. The Bush wars involved operational and grand strategic errors, so why institutionalize a shift in defense planning that in effect has the U.S. military prepare for more strategic errors by our leadership? Why not opt to correct the error? It is really an elemental point of strategy: Don’t compound error!

I understand how military professionals who have been ordered to take on foolish strategic missions might feel that counterinsurgency theory is an attractive way out of their tactical and operational dilemmas. But there is really no excuse for civilian leaders, including Sec Def Gates, chasing the mirage of COIN as if it were an answer for our current problems dealing with the consequences of a disastrous Bush national security strategy. Change the strategy and there will be no need for investments in COIN!

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