The Best Defense

FM 3-XX: Revolutionary Operations

I've been looking over the Army's new manual for stability operations, which the University of Michigan just reprinted with an all-star lineup of introductions by Michele Flournoy, Shawn Brimley, and Janine Davidson.

I'm all for the idea. But I wonder if the very title of the manual is incorrect. After all, we didn't invade Iraq to provide stability, but to force change. Likewise in Afghanistan. And once we were there, we didn't aim for stability, but to encourage democracy, which (the thought is not original with me) in a region like the Middle East generally undermines stability. I mean, if all we wanted was stability, why not find a strongman and leave?

What we really are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think, is instability operations. I don't think the U.S. military really has ever been comfortable with that mission, which was one reason we saw a lot of friction early on between the Bremer team trying to bring change and the Sanchez team simply trying to keep a lid on things. Personally, I think the mission of changing the culture of Iraq was nuts -- but that was the mission the president assigned the military.

I think a more intellectually honest title for the manual would be "Revolutionary Operations." Don't hold your breath.

As long as I am quibbling with official government usage, is "the interagency" even a grammatical term?

The Best Defense

Good for Them: Truth and Reconciliation

I was surprised and impressed to see two centrist Washington bigwigs -- former diplomat Thomas Pickering and former FBI director William Sessions -- call for an independent commission to look into U.S. government policies on torture and detainees.

It is in the interest of our nation's security that President Obama should immediately appoint such a commission. To move ahead, make our country safer and strengthen the leadership position of the United States, we must have a full understanding of detainee policies and their consequences. Only then can we prevent any mistakes of the past from being repeated.

I am beginning to think this might just happen. And that would be a good thing indeed. We probably need one more round of revelations to push it over the top. Given the nature of things, I expect that murder will out. 

Photo: Flickr user CitizenSheep