The noise before defeat

America needs to become more skilled at small wars but should generally avoid them at the same time. Its a hard balancing act.

I’ve always been a bit torn on the movement within the US military to reform itself around nationbuilding and small wars. On the one hand, American legions find themselves in these wars, and it is sensible for them to think hard about what they are doing and how to do it better. As Iraq showed, institutional amnesia and a bias towards heavy warfighting left them ill-prepared to secure and cultivate the people, birth a new state, and marginalise insurgents. They needed to get better at this business, and they did.

On the other hand, these wars are best avoided. To be sure, they can erupt without warning, but even then, the US has choices. Which is why strategy is needed to ask the basic questions: what is the national interest? what are the limits of American power? Is it worth it? What problems must America learn to live with, rather than try to eliminate?

Without the discipline of strategy, America risks seeking operational and tactical solutions to strategic problems.

I don’t share Gian Gentile’s hostility to the rediscovery of COIN in quite the same degree. But as he argues in his recent Parameters piece:

The new American way of war has eclipsed the execution of sound strategy, producing never-ending campaigns of nation-building and attempts to change entire societies in places like Afghanistan. One can only guess at the next spot on the globe for this kind of crusade…in the new way of American war, tactics have buried strategy, and it precludes any options other than an endless and likely futile struggle to achieve the loyalty of populations that, in the end, may be peripheral to American interests.

As Gentile warns, learning how to fight small wars more effectively can generate a dangerous fatalism in the Western imagination, that these wars are inevitable and even natural. This problem is magnified in a higher political realm. There is a certain type of hegemonic world view that is still  alive, as Daniel Larison warns:

Obama believes that by stressing interdependence and globalisation that he has seriously addressed complexity in foreign affairs, but he has simply replaced one rigid scheme with another, and in that scheme every problem on earth is potentially our problem. If every problem is our problem, and everyone’s security is “inextricably linked” to our own, how can any President set priorities or address one crisis rather than another when all are potentially just as relevant and connected to American security?

An overreaching, hegemonic view of the world, where almost any conflict or problem is a danger to American national security, can combine with an optimistic view of small wars, that they are natural and eminently winnable. Not only does this lead to farce – where envoys in the Afghan hinterland teach bemused warlords about gender awareness, and where no discussion is complete without the tiresome babble of ‘governance’ and ‘narrative’. Liberal crusading and hyperactive interventionism becomes the default state of foreign policy.  Whether the soul of military art is armed social science, or killing people and breaking things, this state of heightened ‘security addiction’ would lead to endless war.

Without getting too antiquarian and pompous, its not exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind.

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27 thoughts on “The noise before defeat

  1. Pingback: The Future is Here for Antiquarian Books | Largestore Blog

  2. Cincinattus Jr. says:

    You said:

    “As Gentile warns, learning how to fight small wars more effectively can generate a dangerous fatalism in the Western imagination, that these wars are inevitable and even natural.”

    I am not sure what you intend by this. If you are suggesting that mankind can evolve to a point that “war “(violent conflict among nation states or, as is the current vogue, non-state groups) is no more, I think you are not taking adequate account of “human nature” (individually and collectively) that has demonstrated throughout history that a penchant for “war” is, whether we like it or not, a regrettable yet wholly imbedded “gene” of human “DNA.”
    If on the other hand, you mean that the “West” should not assume that “it” must necessarily get involved in wars of an “irregular” nature (COIN/CT etc.), I can agree to a point but again history suggests there is a degree of inevitability here as well. I suppose this ties into my first point in that given the immutable nature of humankind to be (in spite of nobler attributes that occasionally prevail) self-centered, self-aggrandizing, hegemonic etc., there will be future conflicts of varying intensity and causation.
    Some of these will be of a nature (insurgency, collages of national governments into anarchy etc.) that, while they may not initially or directly affect the “West” in the sense of an actual “armed attack” sufficient to trigger the right of “self defense” (to use the lexicon of the UN Charter), they indirectly or eventually cause a Western state or coalition to become involved ostensibly or actually for myriad reasons (pressure from other nations or a nations own populations or their elites to intercede for humanitarian, regional or global security, protection of strategic resources etc.).
    As such, while I can agree the “West” should not be “fatalistic” about these matters to the point such an attitude itself prompts a “Western” military adventure it would not otherwise undertake, the West will always have to be mindful of the inevitability of “war” breaking out somewhere and that it will become involved in some way. This realistic view should in turn motivate the “West” to continue to assess potential threats across the conflict spectrum, prioritize them in a way that make sense for “it” (in terms of realistic military capabilities, vital interests etc.) and adapt accordingly so as to maintain as high a degree of readiness as possible in the context of ever increasing demands on the now-anemic economic engines of the “West” for non-military spending.

  3. Good stuff.

    >As Gentile warns, learning how to fight small wars more effectively can generate a dangerous fatalism in the Western imagination, that these wars are inevitable and even natural

    On this, does preparing to fight big wars lead to a conclusion that such wars are inevitable, and even natural? Or are small wars different in that respect?

    Also, do you sense that going on for a decade of expensive foul-up in Afghanistan has led to a greater sense of optimism about doing these sorts of things, or a diminished one? My own sense is that the political, societal and military appetite for such things is diminishing, even as the military restructures to better address them.

    • Cincinattus Jr. says:

      “On this, does preparing to fight big wars lead to a conclusion that such wars are inevitable, and even natural? Or are small wars different in that respect?”

      As I suggested previously, I think “war” (in the generic sense) is inevitable as but one of the “attributes” of humankind. Thus, I am not sure that the distinction between “big” (“regular”?) and “small” (“irregular”?) is of much help. I side with history that is replete with examples of both and every permutation between. Given my theological roots, I believe this is another facet of our base “human nature” that more often than not overcomes whatever positive attributes we may have.

      “Also, do you sense that going on for a decade of expensive foul-up in Afghanistan has led to a greater sense of optimism about doing these sorts of things, or a diminished one? My own sense is that the political, societal and military appetite for such things is diminishing, even as the military restructures to better address them.”

      I think any diminishing of appetite is a function of the negative stimuli that the West has encountered (the high human and material costs, the lack of public understanding of and support for these wars, the implacable foe and the growing realization that the “all or nothing” nature of the beliefs of many of the groups aligned against the West in these wars does not portend a good outcome, if in fact an “outcome” in the sense of a meaningful “peace” is even achievable etc.). To hazard an analogy that I realize has been itself the subject of discussion on the KOW blog, the US experience in Vietnam led to nearly a decade (1972-1982) of military malaise and neglect domestically and a very weak foreign policy.

      I do not think this was a reflection of any fundamental change in our individual or collective natures that caused the US to eschew direct involvement in the various conflicts during that period but rather was a function of the national fatigue and disgust that followed the US defeat. Eventually such things wear off in that following generations of people and leaders do not have the same visceral reaction to that war such that its chilling effect on the national ardor for war dissipates.

  4. Grant says:

    That may lead to such a fatalism in the military, but in my opinion the military already had that attitude. The public certainly doesn’t like it when soldiers are sent abroad, not so much from a desire for peace so much as a dislike of the idea that any of the soldiers might die.
    If the choice is ‘armed social science’ (a phrase I like, you should try to coin it) or conventional war then I prefer a third option. That would be using engagement to insert U.S soldiers and civil servants in reconstructing failed states or in training the military and civil servants of those states, hopefully in concert with the United Nations. Of course the problem there is that the soldiers might stir up resentment and anti-Western sentiment but in my opinion so many soldiers have so experience with this that it would be a shame not to put their talents to less violent use.
    Lastly, while this is not the purpose of this article I think we veered from the original intent of the Founding Fathers quite some time ago. At the start of the 19th century there were arguments over the constitutionality of a navy. I don’t think we should concern ourselves so much with what the original leaders would have intended as much as whether doing something is honestly intelligent.

    • Cincinattus Jr. says:

      Some of this is already being done in other contexts–the EIMET program for example.

      With respect, I have a great deal of concern with your last point.

      You said:

      “I don’t think we should concern ourselves so much with what the original leaders would have intended as much as whether doing something is honestly intelligent.”

      IMHO, as an attorney and law professor now, I think such notions are naive at best and dangerous at worst in that the collective genius of the original concept of the Constitution is the best protection we have against short term, politically motivated (in terms of partisanship rather than the collective best interests of the nation) decisions and policies of our federal government.

      If one considers the comparative dysfunction reflected in the political histories of other “Western” nations during the existence of the US, it becomes apparent that the system embodied in our Constitution works quite well. To begin to ignore it in favor of “something…honestly intelligent” first of all assumes that following our Constitution is somehow dishonest and stupid, and that there is some objective way to determine if a given course of action taken ultra vires of our Constitution is in fact “honestly intelligent.”

      Who is to determine that if we have thrown off the strictures of our Constitution? If we cannot rely on the checks and balances of the Constitution in such an event, it is likely that those in power will determine for themselves if their decisions are “honestly intelligent” leaving the people with no effective recourse (except perhaps the 2d Amendment) in the event they do not agree that the decisions are either honest or intelligent.

    • Grant says:

      I didn’t mean change the basic legal/political structure established in the Constitution. I’ll agree that it’s quite valuable, it has managed to survive over 200 years with only a few alterations. My argument was that some of the original liberal theories that were desired have already been set aside*.

      The presidency is definitely far more powerful than was intended, the Supreme Court gained its ability to review all laws by a very clever court decision that avoided clashing with the president, the Electoral College (at least to my professor’s understanding) was intended to work out which candidate would become president among themselves.

      If I were to clarify my argument I would say that it means “Keep as best as we can our laws, systems, and norms while acting as a practical nation-state”.

      As my best example, unlike our early 19th century counterparts we view having a navy as both practical and also essential to the security of the nation. In that time it was the subject of a great deal of controversy.

      Further, the Constitution reads, and I quote, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech”**. Taken at face value it seems to clearly state that Congress does not have the power to make laws restricting what people say, yet Justice Holmes famously said that “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.”

      To put it simply, I don’t want the Constitution gone or weakened, what I want is pundits to stop using it without understanding it or the understanding the current situation.

      *Not that all of them were so liberal. Until Jackson only propertied white men could vote. After him ALL white men could vote, clearly a great step forward.
      **Read the Constitution sometime people! You might learn you like it, or at least you won’t sound ignorant when you invoke it in a debate.

    • Grant says:

      Sorry, didn’t mean to insinuate that you were a ‘pundit’ using the Constitution. I was referring to a certain right-wing commentator and didn’t realize how it might sound.

    • Gunrunner says:

      Grant,
      “The public certainly doesn’t like it when soldiers are sent abroad, not so much from a desire for peace so much as a dislike of the idea that any of the soldiers might die.”

      From my study of this aspect of the American mind, the answer to the question of “disliking” American casualties is more complicated than not liking it when Americans get hurt or die. The American perspective is one based on the situation. Are they fighting and dying in defense of the national security of the United States? If they are, then tolerance for American casualties is high, and if they are not, tolerance for American casualties is very low.

      Please see: http://www.airpower.au.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj01/spr01/vorspr01.html

      (Small point: The Electoral College was to send men of good and honest character to Washington to vote for who their state voted for, not to work out who would be their choice. That was the intent).

  5. Patrick Porter says:

    In brief, cos its Christmas and I have turkeys to devour:

    Grant – the Founding Fathers didn’t want the US to morph into a global cop fighting endless wars to export market democracy. While I agree that its best to avoid a kind of literalist fundamentalism in the reading of the Constitution and the foundational thinking of the country, on this point they were onto something.

    In response to your argument that the US should ‘insert’ its soldiers into ‘failed states’ because ‘it would be a shame not to put their talents to less violent use’, this is exactly the problem that Gentile warns against, where tactics drive or overwhelm strategy. America should not intervene in states just because it has talented people at its disposal.

    Kenny: you asked two good questions. To your first: yes, preparing for big wars can also generate fatalism that they are inevitable. To wit, the Kaiserreich. Which is why all military preparation is best done within the constraints of a prudent strategy that seeks to place limitations on war.
    To your second: I hope you are right, but as long as Michael O’Hanlon can call for a new expeditionary force to be deployed in the Congo, and as long as Obama rededicates the US to global hegemony and to more ‘mobile’ and ‘expeditionary’ forces, liberal crusading remains an enduring temptation.

    now, ho ho ho…

    • Cincinattus Jr. says:

      Pat”

      I agree with your conclusion that the founders did not envision or intend that the US be a worldwide “super hero” plying the oceans at the ready to solve the problems of other nations (much less non-state parties). Of course the “liberalism” that we are now seeing with the apparent policies of the current and immediately prior administrations has its roots in the progressive notions of our (in)famous roughrider TR (advocate of the “big stick”) and the “banana wars” where we used our military might for protection of private corporations.

      As to your statement, “its best to avoid a kind of literalist fundamentalism in the reading of the Constitution and the foundational thinking of the country, on this point they were onto something” I am not sure I agree. If you mean a mechanistic interpretation such as contending since the Constitution does not mention airplanes the federal government cannot regulate air travel etc. I can agree. If on the other hand you are conflating “literalist” with “originalist” I cannot agree.

      As we have seen to our collective detriment (and at times shame), when we make national decisions on an ad hoc, situation-driven basis and justify it with various arguments against relying on the “original intent” of the founders such as the Constitution is a “living” document etc.,we do so at our peril and in disregard of the very oaths our leaders take upon entering public office. Given the limitless creativity of humans to avoid such pesky principles of our Constitution when their baser natures control, and especially when facilitated by silver-tongued lawyers, once we embark on such a course we are on very slippery and dangerous ground indeed.

      As such, I firmly believe we are at our national best when we honor and obey those principles and provisions of our Constitution that our prescient founders provided. I realize at times this can be frustrating to one faction or the other, but the alternative of situation-driven policy-making (usually in the guise of some “emergency” or “crisis”) is far worse and in fact quite dangerous. This rather crass manipulation of our system and people is quite evident over time–the many aspects of the “New Deal,” internment of Japanese citizens in WWII, and more recently, the Patriot Act and the various (IMHO) recent and continuing ultra vires initiatives of His administration (the proliferation of unaccountable “czars,” take over of private industry etc.).

  6. Upandaway says:

    We are having this exact debate i Sweden… Except there is no debate, just a lot of assumptions, half-truths and wishful thinking along the lines…:”now that we have achieved eternal peace and never have to fight a war again (thank god) we might as well go peace-keeping.”

    I tend to be an optimist in that I believe that we actually can change a lot (not all of them mind) of the worlds hell-holes for the better. But we have to realize the extreme difficulty and that it usually requires a lot more thought and effort than we usually are prepared to expend. We must also be prepared that we may fail despite doing everything right.

    There is all this talk about rebuilding, and that may work in developed societies where people are dependent on highly organized ways of living. In the basket-cases we tend to become involved in, the truth is that a lot of times we will have to be prepared to construct whole new structures and institutions while disrupting a lot of existing ones.

    What we’re doing is not an analog to building a house, treating a disease, or designing a car. Instead it is about the preparation for and conduct of a coercive campaign. Your opponent (the vested interests in the society you are trying to improve) gets a vote, and regardless what you go about changing and however benign your motives, there will be those with power who just won’t like it. That’s why it’s so hard.

    Thus I grow despodent when I read about the kind of half-a**ed effort and thinking that goes into some of these endeavours, and have begun to believe that it is usually those most ignorant of the challenges facing them that are most likely to take them on (on the assumption that it’ll be a cake-walk. We’ve got some splendid examples of that lately…).

    (Now, some may be forced into it by forces beyond their control: Check out this incredible documentary from PBS about the Johnson administration. I was amazed about their extreme reluctance to enter the Vietnam War and their horribly prescient views on what was about to happen: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/11202009/profile.html)

    This assumption that we can go in and “fix it” and be home before the leaves fall is breaking our militaries and alliances while leaving the field open for our competitors.

    On a slightly more positive note:
    Merry Christmas!

  7. Cincinattus Jr. says:

    Grant:

    Of course it is difficult to fully and fairly discuss such things in a blog format (we don’t even have the benefit of being able to preview what we post–a definite disadvantage to keyboard challenged oldsters like me). Thus my first reply needs to be read in the context of the Constitution’s structures operating as intended.

    In this way the issues you cite (slavery for example) were and are addressed by these integrated processes and structures such as the judiciary interpreting the Constitution when necessary. While it is true that this is often in fits and starts (as the Dred Scott case sadly demonstrated), even with its imperfections (it is my personal belief that anything undertaken by imperfect humans will also be imperfect) it stands in fairly stark contrast to the checkered record of many other “Western” governments.

    In terms of your view that the Executive branch enjoys more power relative to the other coterminous branches, I suppose an apt analogy is the current hullabaloo over “global warming” or “climate change” (pick your term) where some skeptics suggest a broader perspective over time is a more appropriate context in which to evaluate present conditions. In the same way, if you review the waxing and waning of executive “power,” and the corresponding (some would say complementary) changes in relative “power” of the legislative and judicial branches over time, the current degree of influence of the executive takes on a different character than merely viewing it in relative isolation.

    This dynamic adjusting of federal power over time is yet another of the strengths of our Constitutional system, notwithstanding the frustration some of us feel from time to time when the system seems to take too long to reach the “equilibrium” that we desire (and of course what is the correct balance varies among the citizenry over time). Given your clarifications it may be that we are closer to agreement than disagreement, but I am always concerned when the national discourse becomes more interested in ad hoc, situation driven decisions and policies, especially when military power is involved, at the expense of following the principled course established in our Constitution.

  8. SNLII says:

    More generally, Gian’s complaints about America’s compulsion to umpire endemic civil wars far overseas are three-fold:

    1. We too often default to doctrine as a substitute for strategy, which is to say the articulation of force to meet our realistic foreign policy goals. He believes that there’s an assumption that newfangled (or relearned, take your pick) tactics might be scabbed together to form a “strategy” in name only. With OEF, I agree with him. Doctrine is hauling the carts of strategy and grand strategy strategy, when it should be the other way around.

    2. Along with America’s “hawk consensus” that posits the military as the de facto solution for all complex foreign policy problems, Gian perhaps fears the growing consensus amongst some elites that all future wars shall be like those we’re waging now. The danger is that we often can’t predict what mask future strife shall wear. I happen to think that van Creveld and others are probably right, but like Gian I’m not convinced that my sagacity is overwhelmingly persuasive and that if we’re going to cheat toward any threat on the spectrum of potential conflict, it should be toward the “conventional” or “kinetic” or any other infernal adjective you should wish to use to describe that sort of combat.

    3. There are opportunity costs lost when a nation spends more than a TRILLION dollars on umpiring these civil wars. Not only does procurement often lag for what we Yanks term “game-changing” gadgets and doctrine, but we spend valuable time training and studying solely for low-intensity conflicts, Win the one you’re in has some attraction, but a military like that of the US must nevertheless prepare for perhaps more existenial or important battles than over the (frankly worthless) scrubland of the Hindu Kush.

    Just my two Afghanis. Gian might arrive to articulate my caricature.

  9. Pingback: La contre-insurrection entre stratégie et tactique « En Vérité

  10. Patrick Porter says:

    Cincinattus,

    I like your distinction between ‘literalist’ and ‘originalist’, and agree with you. What I was trying to get at is the Fathers’ vision of the US as a non-imperial republic.

    • Grant says:

      Something I’ve never been certain of is how people define ‘imperial’ in systems without emperors. Do you mean that the U.S expanded its territory by driving out the First Nation groups that lived in those lands first or annexing the land against the desires of its already existing government? Do you mean that the U.S is imperial by its reach across the planet and the soldiers stationed in other states?

  11. American is already highly skilled at fighting small wars, insurgencies or against whatever other you might want to call it.

    The main factor currently affecting the American ability to fight has been changes to the rules of engagement. This has everything to do with political willpower rather than martial ability.

  12. Thomas Jackson says:

    Perhaps the US should avoid preparing for nuclear war lest we become too enamored of it! The author displays poor reasoning and worse judgement. Any nation that cannot defend its vital national interests will not remain a viable entity for long. History demonstrates this.

    • Grant says:

      So far nuclear deterrence has been more than sufficient even in times when I would have bet money that there would be war.

  13. Patrick Porter says:

    Thomas,

    you slightly misunderstand me. I argued that the US should prepare for small wars, but should temper this with the knowledge that they are undesirable.

    a promiscuous over-use of military force in unnecessary wars can also bring down a nation. History demonstrates that too.

    but if you are the same ‘Thomas Jackson’ who was arguing that America’s dealings with today’s Iran are like the Munich crisis, you might note that you are coming across as an ahistorical blowhard.

    • SNLII says:

      But doesn’t that go the heart of the matter (if not the mind), PP?

      Kilcullen echoes Callwell in his “Accidental Guerillas” by saying much the same thing: It’s best to avoid these messy sorts of conflicts, but we should be competent and proficient in dealing with them once they erupt.

      The problem is that when he has been before Congress, Kilcullen shrieks like a scared school girl about al Qaeda seizing Pakistan’s missile silos, punching in the launch codes and blowing up Mumbai and Manhattan and Manchester, addling our more easily spooked geriatric lawmakers and bending their arms to support a generational population-centric investment of Afghanistan that likely won’t do much about those Pakistani ballistic missiles.

      At some point, there must be intellectual consistency (don’t look to me for it, however) from our COINdinista overlords. If entering these conflicts should be avoided, then why can’t leaving be considered as paramount to staying in most circumstances?

      Don’t they bear the burden of proof in convincing our democracies that we have an even greater need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of NATO lives? I submit that Kilcullen & Co have failed to meet this burden, even if I’m already sympathetic to the mission.

  14. Patrick Porter says:

    SNLII,

    I agree, that is a tension in the ‘small wars’ argument that you have nicely brought out, though I haven’t seen Kilcullen ‘shriek’ as you describe it.

    however, its also possible to argue that the US could find itself in a small war without expecting or wanting it in future (eg. in the midst of a humanitarian mission, etc).

    “Don’t they bear the burden of proof in convincing our democracies that we have an even greater need to spend hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of NATO lives?”

    Yes. But I still think it helps to preserve some institutional knowledge, doctrine and capability with these things, just in case.

  15. Cincinnatus Jr. says:

    Just read this in the online Foreign Policy magazine by Tom Ricks:

    Pushed and prodded by a wonky group of Ph.D.s, the U.S. military has in the last year decisively embraced a Big Idea: counterinsurgency. Not everyone in uniform is a fan, but David Petraeus and the other generals in charge of America’s wars are solidly behind it. Here are the brains behind counterinsurgency’s rise from forgotten doctrine to the centerpiece of the world’s most powerful military:

    The COINdinistas

    Who knows everything there is to know and more about counterinsurgency and its current role in U.S. military strategy? These guys.

    BY THOMAS E. RICKS | DECEMBER 2009

    1. Gen. David Petraeus

    The face of the 2007-08 “surge” in Iraq and now chief of Central Command. Gen. Stanley McChrystal is gonna try the same in Afghanistan, but “King David” rules this roost. ‘Nuff said?

    2. John Nagl

    Writer on Petraeus’s counterinsurgency manual, now beats the coin drum from the outside as president of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). But it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in a top Pentagon slot within a year or two.

    3. David Kilcullen

    The Crocodile Dundee of counterinsurgency. Former Australian infantryman with a Ph.D. in anthropology, and one of the most quotable people on the planet. His book The Accidental Guerrilla helped shape the year’s debates; he worked to steer the former Bush administration toward coin from the inside.

    4. Janine Davidson

    The Pentagon insider in this crowd. Former Air Force pilot now sitting at the adult table in the policy shop of the secretary of defense.

    5. Dave Dilegge

    Editor of Small Wars Journal. This is the town square of counterinsurgency, avidly read by everyone from four-star generals to captains on the ground in Iraq.

    6. Andrew Exum

    Abu Muqawama blogger; with Nagl, another colleague of mine at CNAS; and co-author of “Triage,” an influential policy paper on Afghanistan. A former Army Ranger who is doing a Ph.D. on Lebanese militias, and in his spare time has been known to play paintball against Hezbollah — no joke.

    7. Stephen Biddle

    Council on Foreign Relations. A latecomer to the coin debate who has written insightfully about both Iraq and Afghanistan. Like Exum, advised McChrystal on Afghanistan strategy.

    8. Andrew Krepinevich

    Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Penned the classic The Army and Vietnam, about the failure of the Army to apply counterinsurgency in Iraq; wrote an influential Foreign Affairs article on the Iraq war and counterinsurgency.

    9. Kalev “Gunner” Sepp

    Assistant professor, Naval Postgraduate School. Like Krepinevich, an Army officer who ruined his career by getting a Ph.D. at Harvard. Fought in El Salvador and kept his COIN powder dry for years until someone was ready to listen.

    10. Col. Gian Gentile

    West Point professor who commanded a unit in Iraq. The skunk at the coin party who constantly points out flaws in the groupthink. Paints with a broad brush, but absolutely necessary to the debate.
    Save over 50% when you subscribe to FP.

    CHRISTOPHER LEAMAN

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