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January 11, 2009



thanks, Eric, for the link to the worldpoliticsreview article that I have read with interest and bookmarked on delicious. I recommend it as well. There is no doubt that asymmetric warfare is on the rise and requires different training and equipment for regular forces.

Eric Chen

Hi Professor Nacos,

I just came across this ... here's a reading recommendation I think is relevant to the dilemmas posed in your recent posts and my responses:

WPR: "War Is Boring: U.S. Wages First Battles in New Generation of War" - http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/Article.aspx?id=3125

"Trying to wage a third-generation, firepower-heavy war against an elusive, sometimes hard-to-define fifth-generation enemy will only cost the United States its wealth, its domestic political unity and its good standing in the eyes of the world."

. . .

"Instead, the Pentagon plans to use less-than-lethal means to defeat -- gradually, and over long periods of time -- the latest-generation threats. These means include economic and humanitarian assistance, legal action and communication. Their goal is to alleviate "the insecurities and the conditions of human beings that create these insecurities across state borders," in the words of Maj. Shannon Beebe, the U.S. Army's top intelligence officer for Africa. These plans have already been put into effect in all three of the fifth-generation wars listed above."

Eric Chen


“If we are going to fight future wars, they’re going to be very similar to Iraq,” [General Petraeus] says, adding that this was why “we have to get it right in Iraq”.

The reason I bring up Operation Iraqi Freedom so often in my comments is this notion that General Petraeus expresses: the importance of our Iraq mission is and has been more than our involvement with the nation. Victory in OIF holds a key, if not the key, to victory in the global War on Terror.

As Petraeus implies, OIF has been our essential testing, proving, and refining ground in order to put to rest our stubborn 20th century '9/10' mindset to war and peace, and develop the methods and mindset we need to win the War on Terror. (Yes, I understand the methods we've used in Iraq have historical bases, as do the methods used against us. Evolution, after all, is not alchemy.)

The solution to the dilemma you pose is found in the lessons GEN Petraeus and his fellow travelers purposely set out to learn in Iraq. We're still learning, and there are no easy answers, but we have found useful answers through much sacrifice and cost. I just worry that too many important people, especially media, have become so invested in a dogmatic close-minded opposition to our Iraq mission that they're incapable of promoting the solutions we've learned in Iraq.

When we can accept that the greater good has been served by our Iraq mission, then that will establish the popular frame that confronting outlaw regimes and terrorist groups is not hopeless; that indeed, as is being achieved in Iraq, the greater good is also achieved by bearing the cost to confront and defeat Hamas. But that narrative will work only if Israel, with the aid of her fellow travelers, matches our Iraq mission by disenfranchising the enemy and using occupation to actively build the peace.

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