December 23, 2007

What Would George Washington Do?

Phil Carter, over at Intel-Dump, highlights an op-ed by Founding Brothers' historian Joseph Ellis.

History professor Joseph Ellis writes in today's Washington Post about "what George Washington would do" with respect to the mess in Mesopotamia. It's a fascinating question, because Washington served both an insurgent (as commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution) and a counterinsurgent (as an officer fighting Native Americans and the French during the Seven Years War). In fact, he probably ranks as one of history's most successful insurgents ever.

But Phil (and Prof. Ellis) say it's Imperial Britain, not GW, that may have lessons for the US, as we both suffer from the same paradox:

This is popularly as the "counterinsurgent's dilemma," perhaps best written about by David Galula in his classic Counterinsurgency Warfare — Theory and Practice. Setting aside those insurgencies which ripen into open warfare, like Mao's famous three-phase model, the goal of the insurgent is not to "win" in any conventional sense. Rather, the goal is to "win" by not losing. Either the insurgent bleeds the counterinsurgent to the point where his will to fight is gone, or the insurgent wins politically by earning the support of the people and alienating the people from the

Read the rest and come back to offer your opinion on Dr. Phil's final question:

So do we have the political will to be a counterinsurgent? To be an empire?

And here's one more: do we need to be?

PS Phil's been posting like a fiend this weekend. If you have time to kill, or in-laws to avoid, check out his recent posts.