Thursday, March 01, 2007

Kilcullen Versus the Guardian on Iraq:

Frequently cited Australian counterterrorism adviser David Kilcullen disputes an assertion by the Guardian, entitled "Military Chiefs give the US Six months to win Iraq War" in a blog post at the Small Wars Journal. The following is a selection of his remarks at the Small Wars Journal.


Today’s Guardian article (“Military Chiefs Give US Six Months to Win Iraq War”) misrepresents the Baghdad advisers. So much so, it makes me doubt the reliability of the single, unidentified source responsible for much of the article’s reporting.

I hope SWJ colleagues will forgive this more "personal" post than usual, but as Senior Counterinsurgency Adviser I have a duty to set the record straight on this.

There is a real country called Iraq, where a real war is going on, with real progress but very real challenges. We are not going to "win the war" in six months -- nor would anyone expect to. But the Guardian seems to be describing some completely different, (possibly mythical) country, and some imaginary group of harried and depressed advisers bearing no resemblance to reality. As counterinsurgency professionals, we take a fact-based approach and we are well aware of the extremely demanding task we face. That makes us cautious realists -- but we are far from pessimists, as the Guardian's anonymous source seems to imply.

Yes, of course, there are still car bombings. But several recent bombings have been Sunni-on-Sunni, rather than sectarian, with extremists targeting moderates to discourage them from cooperating with the government. That means sectarian violence, overall, is down, and that extremists are worried they are losing support from their base – both good things, despite the appalling violence against innocents we have come to expect from these extremists.

And yes, there is a risk that home-front political will might collapse just as we are getting things right on the ground. Given some commentators’ overall negativity, one suspects that their efforts may directed to precisely that end. You may not like the President, you may be unhappy about the war. But whose side are you on? The Iraqis trusted us, and this is their fight. They deserve our support.

Buried in the article, though, are some references to real-world progress: ...

5 Comments:

Blogger MB said...

OT:
http://www.newenglishreview.org/custpage.cfm?frm=5794&sec_id=5794

The Dhimmi Revolution

3/01/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Omar at Pajamas Media reports some small progress in Baghdad. One swallow does not a Spring make. As Dr. Kilcullen says in another post, the battle for Baghdad is a marathon.

It has been a busy few weeks. Operation Fadr al-Qanoon (which the media calls the “Baghdad security plan”) is shaping up. Progress is measurable, but this is a marathon, not a sprint, and it’s still too early to know how it will turn out.

The message for all of us, as professionals who do this for a living, is patience, patience, patience. The war has been going for nearly four years, the current strategy less than four weeks. We need to give it time.

It will take time to provide security to the population. To do this right, we need to build trust with the people, engage community leaders closely, develop intelligence and trusted networks, then work our way in and compete with the insurgents and death squads to deny them access to their targets – their own people, whom they cynically exploit and kill. All these things we are doing, but the process cannot be rushed, and requires detailed local understanding: so we move at the pace the Iraqis can sustain.


And while it is far from certain that the Coalition will prevail, the rush in certain quarters to declare victory for the enemy or ring the bell lest their favored boxer gets knocked down or counted out may be a little unsporting.

3/01/2007 05:59:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Refreshing to hear a "professional", that is "someone who makes a living based on their knowledge of counter-terrorism", lay out the facts.

I'm not sure why, but Al-Qaeda's strategy for electing the Pelosi-loons seems to have polluted the thinking of rational people nation-wide.

I used to find Bill O'Reilly interesting, but now he's just entertaining, as he has adopted the "we're totally screwed up in Iraq" posture - beyond reason.

Iraqi's may indeed be nothing but pond scum - Saucern Nomads that lack the intellect and courage to build a democracy. But I am so totally amazed at how otherwise intelligent people can fail to see that the war on "terror" is far bigger than our triflings in Iraq.

Less than 1% of our GDP is going into this war. And the loss of life is lower than any other similar size conflict. Yet the cut and run crowd is gaining a voice.

I fear that it will take another 911 to wake us up. Fortunately that won't happen while Bush the Younger is in office.

3/01/2007 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

dla:

Amen. The shreiking hysterics over the Iraq theatre of this war demonstrate a clear lack of perspective -- purposely so on the part of our media, the kneejerk 'anti-war' movement and opportunistic anti-Americans of all stripes.

Our craven politicians and a good portion of the public are swooning with a case of the vapors like a sheltered society matron who spots a mouse in the parlor.

Of course, pointing this out gets one dismissed as a 'chickenhawk' stuck in a bunker with Bush and his few remaining bitter-enders, etc.

Harry Reid tells us that Iraq is the worst foreign policy blunder in American history.

Really.

Worse than Yalta? Worse than failing to anticipate the Chinese crossing the Yalu? Worse than 'losing' China in the first place? Worse, some would argue, than provoking Imperial Japan with an embargo? Worse than the failure to avoid the sort of settlement at Versailles which set the stage for a second world war?

Of course, a public systematically defrauded by an education system held hostage to various post-marxist nostrums by teachers' unions might actually swallow Reid's assessment.

3/02/2007 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Fascinating that this kind of manipulation is exactly the kind of thing to which Mark Moyer devotes so much attention in his even-tempered book about Vietnam, Triumph Foresaken 1954 - 1965. Such a gratifying read. Much of it is about how Neal Sheehan and David Halberstam, but especially Sheehan, who were in their mid-twenties at the time relied either on vindictive, venal and frustrated American commanders or on single Vietnamese who later turned out to be Communist sympathizers or Communists themselves. Much of these controversial conclusions have been corroborated by memoirs written relatively recently, and supported by NVA histories and occasionally even Khruschev in Khruschev Remembers. The tone of the reporters is Exactly The Same. What a flock of assholes! Brings to mind the comment by a former big deal journalist - some woman, never'd heard of her - from the Vietnam period I saw on a C-SPAN panel reviewing several presidencies (Covering the President, or something like that). The panel quickly degenerated, after a reverent treatment of the Kennedy White House, into a "this is the sentence in the Kennedy/Johnson/Nixon tapes that proves that Vietnam was a capitalist-nazi-blahblah project..." When host-haircut Brian Williams asked what they thought when looking back on the period, this woman said, "Well, I think I realize that we didn't know much about Vietnam then, and now in Iraq I think we're starting to get that right."

I think we're starting to get that right.

Amazing. Frankly, if the Islamists somehow win, I shall find it not unpleasant to have 4 wives, who are my slaves, and to watch people like that disemboweled in the warm sty that used to be the airport after a nice afternoon falafel-&-hookah.

3/02/2007 07:38:00 PM  

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