Kaplan and COIN: The Tweets

Posted January 30th, 2013 by Thanassis Cambanis and filed in Writing

Fred Kaplan graciously took part in a Twitter conversation about his book, The Insurgents. He explained his concerns that the military remains confused about its mission, and expounded on his view that counterinsurgency doctrine is sometimes the right recipe and is not, as I suggested in a question, “snake oil,” or “the best way to fight a kind of war we should never fight.”

The tweets have been gathered here in what to the horror of those who care about grammar, is called a “storify,” v. trans. “to storify.”

Team America’s New Boss

Posted June 25th, 2010 by Thanassis Cambanis and filed in Writing

The McChrystal story really spiced up the week, and brought the Afghan war into a really clear focus. Matthew Yglesias wrote a fantastic short essay at The Daily Beast about what General David Petraeus needs to do to succeed. In the piece, Yglesias tackles two potent and related points. First, he gives voice to the counter-narrative about the Iraq surge, arguing that what Petraeus accomplished there wasn’t “victory” or a “secure Iraq” but a political triumph – lowering America’s expectations enough that Iraq’s disappointing progress would satisfy Washington and allow an exit. Second, Yglesias argues that Afghanistan is literally unwinnable, but could be another “success” if Petraeus can work the same magical concoction: great PR, political jujitsu, and competent war management.

As he says in summation:

Petraeus could be just the man to do for Obama what he did for Bush: help reframe the problem and walk away from unrealistic goals while projecting determination and making things better in some small concrete ways.