Because Aren’t All Insurgencies the Same?

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal is a frustrating columnist. In April he made the head scratching argument that Khost province in Afghanistan, which has, along with the rest of RC-East, experienced a 36% jump in insurgent attacks over last year, was really on the verge of victory and only John Kerry says otherwise.

Today he writes that FARC, the LTTE, and the Sadr militia are really the same because they were defeated militarily. He of course ignores the very salient fact that neither are alike at all and each required completely different tactics to weaken. The Sadrists have been quelled through concerted American-backed military action in a warzone; the Tamil Tigers were undermined by decades of systematic police and intelligence work before the latest of many military forays to the north of Sri Lanka, most of which had failed (according to some excellent research by RAND scholar C. Christine Fair). And FARC? FARC has been around for 30 years, wholly impervious to our best efforts to undermine it militarily. FARC is weakened now because of political and economic changes. Not the military.

But Stephens feels comfortable spending a week strutting around a few disparate FOBs in Afghanistan, then declaring victory. So I don’t really take what he has to say at face value… or any value at all. But his column is a textbook example of what happens when you really love your hammer—everything looks like a nail.

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2 Responses to “Because Aren’t All Insurgencies the Same?”

  1. on 04 Jun 2008 at 7:36 pm Ymarsakar

    So I don’t really take what he has to say at face value… or any value at all. That was obvious from day one. No need for all these other superficial justifications.

  2. on 05 Jun 2008 at 5:09 am Joshua Foust

    Day one? I’ve written of Stephens on here before? This isn’t without reason.

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