October 29, 2007

Does Kagan Read Big Lizards, or Does Big Lizards Anticipate Kagan?

Hatched by Dafydd

Actually neither; Frederick W. Kagan has been making this same point for weeks now -- that we've already won the first Iraq battle against al-Qaeda, giving us encouragement as we tackle the second against the Iran-controlled Shiite militias. But he makes the argument very forcefully in an opinion piece in the current Weekly Standard.

Kagan, recall, was a co-author along with Gen. Jack Keane and Maj. Daniel Dwyer of Choosing Victory: A Plan for Success in Iraq, which most argue was the impetus behind President George W. Bush deciding to scrap the previous strategy we were using in Iraq and choose a counterinsurgency strategy (and a new general) instead. The link above is actually to a Power Point presentation on the strategy (masquerading as a PDF file) that I particularly like: Just set the zoom to "Fit page" and keep pressing the Page Down key to progress through the "slides."

From the Weekly Standard piece, here is Kagan putting it on a nutshell:

America has won an important battle in the war on terror. We turned an imminent victory for Al Qaeda In Iraq into a humiliating defeat for them and thereby created an opportunity for further progress not only in Iraq, but also in the global struggle. In the past five months, terrorist operations in and around Baghdad have dropped by 59 percent. Car bomb deaths are down by 81 percent. Casualties from enemy attacks dropped 77 percent. And violence during the just-completed season of Ramadan--traditionally a peak of terrorist attacks--was the lowest in three years....

Before the surge began, American forces in Iraq had attempted to fight al Qaeda primarily with the sort of intelligence-driven, targeted raids that many advocates of immediate withdrawal claim they want to continue. Those efforts failed.... Success came with a new strategy....

The so-called "water balloon effect," in which terrorists were simply squeezed from one area of the country to another, did not occur in 2007 because our commanders finally had the resources to go after the terrorists wherever they fled.... The addition of more forces, the change in strategy to focus on protecting the population, both Sunni and Shia, and the planning and execution of multiple simultaneous, and sequential operations across the entire theater combined with a shift in attitudes among the Sunni population to revolutionize the situation.

Everyone should read this (fairly short) opinion piece. Coming as it does from the military historian most qualified to opine on the counterinsurgency, and being so succinct and clearly thought out, it shines as one of the preeminent, must-read publications on the endgame in Iraq. I believe it stacks up well beside the Arthur Herman piece we first linked on January 4th, 2007, in Iran Strategies 6: Preparing For the "Herman Option?", and the recent Max Boot book War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History: 1500 to Today... three publications that are essential to understanding the post-modern, distributed, asymmetrical warfare of insurgencies and terrorist groups today.

(Dare we call that "POMODA" war?)

If you read all three, I guarantee you'll know more about the subject than all but a child's handful of senators, congressmen, and civilian administration officials. Which is scary and discouraging, when you stop to think about it.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 29, 2007, at the time of 6:49 PM

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The following hissed in response by: David M

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 10/30/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

The above hissed in response by: David M [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2007 8:08 AM

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