Preparing for the Next War

My first article for The New Individualist, “Preparing for the Next War,” has finally gone online. It was written in February and published in the April issue, which hit the streets in late March.

Here’s the intro:

“Perhaps there is no great point in recalling all the tragic and idiotic blunders, all the false optimism, all the unrealism of the first phases of the war, but it is not possible to appreciate fully the heroism of the Security Forces unless the stupidities of some of those in command are remembered.”

The quotation above is from an April 1960 editorial in the Straight Times, reflecting back on a successful British-led campaign against the Malayan insurgency. Astute readers will see no small similarity with the yet-unfinished business in Iraq. It should be noted that winning in Malaya took twelve years. Our most recent adventure in Iraq will have barely passed the four-year mark by the time you read this.

As Genghis Khan observed some eight hundred-odd years ago, “Conquering a country while mounted is easy, dismounting and building a nation is difficult.” There have been amazing advances in the art of war since then, but that remains just as true today. Wondering why we fail to turn the world’s most disconnected and impoverished societies into “instant democracies” is, as the strategist Thomas Barnett puts it, “like wondering why the oncologist lets so many of his patients die.”

Read the rest at the link. Feel free to comment below.

Many thanks to Robert James Bidinotto for commissioning the piece and for his valuable editorial insights.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, National Security, Published Elsewhere, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anjin-San says:

    Pretty good article James. It documents the Bush admin’s massive, end-to-end train wreck in Iraq.

    So tell me, why do you continue to have even a shred of confidence in these boobs?