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: ...