Over at the Washington Independent, Spencer Ackerman continues his enlightening "Rise of the Counterinsurgents" series with "A Counterinsurgency Guide for Politicos." The Indy has obtained a copy of a forthcoming manual on counterinsurgency strategy written by David Kilcullen, a "former Australian Army officer who is now an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice."
The handbook seeks to provide a framework for considering whether Washington should intervene in foreign countries' counterinsurgency operations, raising difficult questions about whether such nations deserve U.S. support; under what conditions that support should occur, and whether success is possible at acceptable cost. No systematic approach to strategic-level questions in counterinsurgency currently exists for senior U.S. government officials.
And how difficult are the questions being raised? Well, in what's sure to be the pull-quote of the piece for those media outlets who still consider anything other than Surge Logic (TM) important, Kilcullen provides a little color:
More bluntly, Kilcullen, who helped Petraeus design his 2007 counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq, called the decision to invade Iraq "stupid" -- in fact, he said "fucking stupid" -- and suggested that if policy-makers apply the manual's lessons, similar wars can be avoided in the future.
"The biggest stupid idea," Kilcullen said, "was to invade Iraq in the first place."