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Rice adviser: ‘The biggest stupid idea was to invade Iraq in the first place.’

After nearly seven years of costly strategic ignorance in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a coming handbook written mostly by a former top aide to Gen. David H. Petraeus seeks to instruct senior civilian policy-makers about the complexities of counterinsurgency.

"Counterinsurgency: A Guide for Policy-Makers" takes the lessons learned by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan and elevates them to the highest levels of national strategy. Counterinsurgency is defined in the text as "the politico-military techniques developed to neutralize... armed rebellion against constituted authority." The handbook is due to be published in November or December. A copy of its most recent draft was obtained by The Washington Independent.

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.

Asked for comment, the handbook's chief author, David Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer who is now an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, explained that it tells policy-makers to "think very, very carefully before intervening." 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."

Kilcullen explained that the handbook will not apply to future operations in Iraq or Afghanistan. "We try not to forge doctrine around an example," he said. Instead, it frames questions about supporting counterinsurgencies in partner or potential-partner countries through the prisms of national interest; graduated levels of commitment, and cost/benefit analysis. It offers numerous warnings about how arduous counterinsurgency is. In a paragraph about the "characteristics" of counterinsurgency, Kilcullen bolds the words "complex," "violent," "difficult," "controversial," "ambiguous," "long-duration" and "high-cost."

The handbook instructs policy-makers about the necessity of using all elements of national power -- not just military force, but also diplomacy, development aid, the rule of law, academic disciplines and other specialties often considered peripheral to warfighting -- to triumph in counterinsurgency. Victory, as well, is defined as support for a foreign nation's ability to successfully govern, rather than a decisive U.S. military effort.

contiuned at link below.........

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Added: Jul-28-2008 
By: TalkingMonkey
Iraq, Afghanistan, Middle East
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