The Post-COIN Era is Here

Learning to Eat Soup with a Spoon Again……

There has been, for years, an ongoing debate in the defense and national security community over the proper place of counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in the repertoire of the United States military and in our national strategy. While a sizable number of serious scholars, strategists, journalists and officers have been deeply involved, the bitter discussion characterized as “COINdinista vs. Big War crowd” debate is epitomized by the exchanges between two antagonists, both lieutenant colonels with PhD’s, John Nagl, a leading figure behind the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual and now president of the powerhouse think tank CNAS , and Gian Gentile, professor of history at West Point and COIN’s most infamous arch-critic.

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Rebar and the Anti-Adams

Okay, I’m no lawyer. But we’ve long suspected, as Legal Insurrection notes, Obama’s “not really into that rule of law stuff.” Hershel Smith’s “Captainsjournal” quotes an Althouse commentor who sees Obama “at his core, the anti-John Adams.” Smith’s rifts make me smile – its nice to remember those witty, self-deprecating, stubborn old guys.

And their priorities were broad and integrated. It is we who have become not only small but dissociated. Foster often reminds us that the big picture includes commerce, business, economics. Discussing Abigail Adams, Woody Holton emphasizes her role as canny businesswoman – as her descendants noted long ago. She wants, she tells John, to match his statesmanship with her prowess as “farmeress.” His proud rejoinder was her foresight about matters of state matched her business skills – both arising from her understanding of human nature. That understanding grew as her shouldering of responsibility did: their partnership freed both to do more for family & nation. Holton admires her courage and wisdom – in land dealing, in farming, in speculating. She understood the importance for a family and for a nation of a solid financial footing. His discussion of prenups (her sisters took that unusual but legal path) and her ways of distributing money to give responsibility and freedom to her female relatives came from her own personal growth. She understood fulfillment was the base of prosperity and felicity. She understood productivity – intellectual, personal, economic, societal – as the context for “the pursuit of happiness.”

Our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, our respect for the Scots beliefs all led to a sense that businesses need independence; they should be supported by as much as restrained by our laws. The Adams must have discussed, argued & formulated these concepts in “curtain talks” like those of the HBO series Smith admires. But this is often misunderstood by our more fragmented modern society (and often fragmented selves). When Obama patronizes careers in business he is signaling his alienation from the values of our forefathers as much as when he speaks of taking action against the Supreme Court. But all is connected in ways those like the Adams understood.

They would understand what we see: an obvious correlation between the rule of law and the use of rebar. Predictable, structurally sound rebar doesn’t intrude itself in our lives but supports walls between which we can live freely, expecting the laws that stood yesterday to stand tomorrow. And we can build a rich life, expecting that our family, in a predictable fashion, will be enriched by our work – intellectual, social, material. But a society without rebar is always on the verge of catastrophe: by a whim, walls may stand or fall. And when a catastrophe comes, the walls will fall hard and fast.

(Meanwhile, Instapundit links to Jammie Wearing Fool, who tells us that only 77% of Investors see Obama as anti-business.)

“Lebanon’s legacy in Afghanistan”

From a brilliant column by Caroline Glick:

Then there is the message he sent the Afghans. Just as Barak and Olmert discouraged the Lebanese from cooperating with IDF operations against Hizbullah when they declared that the IDF would not remain in Lebanon, so by announcing a timeline for withdrawal at the same time he announced his force build-up, Obama told the Afghan people that they have no reason to collaborate with US and NATO forces on the ground.
For Obama personally, this is a win-win situation. If McChrystal is able to make headway, Obama will take the credit. If not, Obama will blame McChrystal, and the Afghans, and NATO, and the Republicans, and George W. Bush for his failure. Then he will withdraw all US forces from the country, and watch as a disinterested observer as the Taliban retake control of Afghanistan – all to the rousing applause of his anti-war political base.
On the other hand, for the American people and for the free world as a whole, this is a lose-lose situation. The sound and light show strategy Obama announced will enable al-Qaida and the Taliban to grow stronger as they wait out the American withdrawal. Likewise, just as Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon emboldened the Palestinians to initiate their terror war in September 2000, so the US retreat from Afghanistan will embolden terror forces and their state sponsors the world over to attack US and Western targets.
IN ISRAEL, the refusal of successive governments to fight our jihadist enemies to victory served to demoralize the public by making it believe that the IDF is incapable of truly protecting the country. The path that Obama has now embarked upon in Afghanistan will likely have the same impact on many Americans. This posture of weakness and helplessness will be sharply contrasted with the emboldened stance of America’s enemies.
From the time the Netanyahu government took office in late March until its recent moves to cut a shockingly dangerous deal with Hamas and prohibit Jewish building in Judea and Samaria, there was a sense that Israel had turned a corner. The public rejected the Barak-Olmert legacy of defeat and elected Netanyahu to change the course of the country. Depressingly, today it is less apparent that Netanyahu has in fact abandoned their legacy of defeat.
What is absolutely certain, however, is that until both Israel and the US change course and defeat our enemies, we will not be safe. Moreover, we must recognize the infuriating fact that even if both countries decide to defeat their enemies, their embrace of victory will come too late for the soldiers killed in futile and pointless battles and for civilians murdered in terror attacks that could have been prevented.

This is worth reading in full.

I fear that both the USA and Israel will pay a terrible price for the despair-inducing plague of bad leadership that afflicts both countries.