United States Government Counterinsurgency Initiative

Briefly, the Departments of State and Defense held a joint conference late September 2006 on counter-insurgency (COIN). Attendees included senior officials from the National Security Council; the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and the Treasury; the U.S. Agency for International Development; and the intelligence community; as well as members of Congress and their staff; and representatives from think tanks, academia, the media; and the Governments of the United Kingdom and Australia.

Unfortunately, MountainRunner wasn’t invited as media this time (maybe next?).

At present I don’t have many comments about the content at the web site (more later as I have time to delve deeper), www.usgcoin.org, save one on Dr. Eliot Cohen’s keynote address. I found it odd that he used our war (is that what we call it now?) on the American Indians as an example of how "winning hearts and minds" isn’t always possible:

There was no question of winning Indian hearts and minds; merely of quelling their resistance and herding them, eventually into reservations. [T]here might be local episodes of American diplomacy to secure the assistance or neutrality of some tribes, but in the long run, this was a contest that could have, and did have, only one outcome – the complete subjugation of the native Americans. The style of warfare that emerged reflected these imbalances.

Is this example really instructive for today? This model, no matter where you stand, is based on imperialist expansion usurping rights and constant breaking of trust by the US Government. Pacification or at least peaceful co-existence was never an option unless the Indian was completely subjugated and put off to the side where the White Man wanted them. Is this really the model Dr. Cohen wants to suggest is our plan in today’s world? That’s not counter-insurgency, that’s called imperialism and I can’t see how the COIN best practices of the conferences contributors could be applied because of this.

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