by Steve Niva
"The new "surge" strategy in Iraq, led by Gen. David Petraeus, has been heavily marketed as an example of the U.S. military's application of the "lessons of history" from previous counterinsurgencies to Iraq, foremost among them the need to win the population over from insurgents through cultivating human relationships, addressing popular grievances, and providing security.
Yet one glance at the realities on the ground in Iraq today reveals that the cornerstone of current U.S. military strategy is less about cultivating human relationships than about limiting them, primarily through concrete walls and checkpoints. And it has been less about minimizing violence than containing Iraq's population and redirecting the battlefield from the streets to the skies above Iraq.......
Mimicking Israel is a recipe for failure. Martin Van Creveld, an Israeli military historian who had lectured U.S. military officials on Israeli military strategy in late 2003, warned in an Associated Press article (Dec. 12, 2003) that just as Israel had been unsuccessful in eliminating militant groups and suicide bombers, the United States cannot expect to be victorious in Iraq. "The Americans are coming here to try to mimic all kinds of techniques, but it's not going to do them any good," he reportedly warned. "I don't see how on earth they [the U.S.] can win. I think this is going to end the same way Vietnam did. They are going to flee the country hanging on the strings of helicopters."
Whether or not this happens will be the subject of future "lessons of history." But by following the Israeli model rather than the actual lessons of counterinsurgency history, the U.S. appears trapped by the logic of its own image co-dependency with Israel as a state now permanently at war with much of the Arab and Muslim world, with history's lessons decidedly not on its side. Read correctly, A Savage War of Peace is less a user's manual for counterinsurgency than a warning about the futility of fighting colonial wars in the first place."