A soldier in Baghdad, in town for the “surge” and wondering whether things really are as bad as they seem, might want to read FM 3-24, the U.S. military’s Counterinsurgency Field Manual, released last December. On Page 1-29, our soldier will find a handy table – “Successful and unsuccessful counterinsurgency operational practices” – that outlines the Dos and the Don’ts.
In which column would one place the major decisions of the Bush administration? The dissolution of the Iraqi army, the de-Baathification of the civil service, the failure to guard important historic and cultural sites, the granting of reconstruction contracts to American firms, and the long-term neglect of legal due process – all correspond to the advice on the “Don’t” side of the chart. And that’s not accounting for atrocities like those in Falluja, Haditha or Abu Ghraib. The “Dos” column, on the other hand, reads like a list of what the United States has failed to do: meeting the population’s needs, expanding secure areas, politically isolating the insurgents, training and equipping Iraqi forces, securing the borders and so on.
If this table serves as a pocket-sized score card, the 280-page manual is a full-bodied treatise on the subject. This is the first new counterinsurgency field manual to appear in 20 years, and as such, it serves as a tacit admission that the American strategy in Iraq is simply not working. The manual’s perspective takes on additional significance since its chief author, Gen. David Petraeus, has just taken over as the top commander in the war.
The guy who literally wrote the book on US counterinsurgency tactics goes against his own teachings when he claims the war in Iraq is “winnable”.
So which time were you lying, General? When you told the American people that you could win an unwinnable war because doing so might help your career or when you wrote the manual that our troops must use when they go into battle?
If we don’t get this administration out of office and stop this war, the US and the Iraqi people are in for more bloodshed and more looting of their treasuries by Bush stockholders.