Assessing America's Counterinsurgency in Iraq

Thursday, March 07, 2013

This month marks 10 years since the start of the American war in Iraq. In military operations alone, the war totaled over $800 billion and largely defined by America's counterinsurgency efforts in the region. General David Petraeus, who led American military operations in Iraq, was the main proponent of the counterinsurgency tactics used in the war. After a series of successful missions where insurgents were effectively pushed out in various parts of Iraq, some military experts believed a similar strategy could be applied in Afghanistan. 

"The conditions were not the same in Afghanistan," says Madeleine Brand, host of "The A Decade at War: Iraq, Afghanistan and Counterinsurgency" airing as a part of the series America Abroad, produced by Public Radio International. "Most crucially for counterinsurgency to work, you have to have buy in with the legitimate government ... that can then take over after you leave, and that is certainly not the case in Afghanistan." 

And as Brand explains, because a successful counterinsurgency strategy takes years to establish, it's not likely that it will become the future of American warfare.

"The appetite for counterinsurgency in Washington has dimmed considerably," Brand says. "We as Americans don't have the patience right now to be involved in long, drawn-out conflicts. We are not in the business of nation building anymore." 


Madeleine Brand

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Jen Poyant

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