Contesting History: The Bush Counterinsurgency Legacy in Iraq

Contesting History: The Bush Counterinsurgency Legacy in Iraq

Contesting History: The Bush Counterinsurgency Legacy in Iraq

Contesting History: The Bush Counterinsurgency Legacy in Iraq


In this book, the Bush administration's war in Iraq is assessed using an interdisciplinary approach and historical analysis that will help readers better understand the results of the U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine from 2003 to the present.

Contesting History: The Bush Counterinsurgency Legacy in Iraq uses a comparative analysis of history to assess the Bush administration's actions in Iraq, focusing specifically on the policy of counterinsurgency. Insurgency exists within an extended timeframe and exhibits a global reach, argues comparative warfare expert Matthew J. Flynn. Therefore, understanding this phenomenon is best realized through an examination of guerrilla conflicts around the world over time; this book provides that approach.

The work analyzes U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine during the Iraq War from 2003 to the present, and offers relevant historical comparisons to conflicts dating back to the mid-19th century, in which a nation enjoyed marked military superiority over their enemy. In doing so, it encourages readers to link the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in the broad context of the utilization of counterinsurgency operations to achieve policy objectives. Ultimately, the book illustrates how the tactical "military" success of the U.S. surge in Iraq still nets a strategic failure.


-Five case studies of guerrilla conflicts throughout the world in the last 150 years

-Findings from unique, primary research on Iraq

-Area maps of each conflict in question

-A bibliography that includes literature on five important past conflicts, as well as key documentation on the Iraq war, from 2003 to the present


-Analyzes U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine during the Iraq War from 2003 to the present

-Compares five guerrilla wars in the past 150 years to the current war in Iraq to show how the United States has relied on conventional military force as the mainstay of counterinsurgency doctrine, a strategy that, historically, has failed

-Reveals how the tactical "military" success of the Iraq surge still nets a strategic failure for the United States


President George W. Bush completed his eight years in office with a plea to the American public that it understand the gains the United States accrued from the war he had initiated in Iraq. Bush argued repeatedly at the close of 2008 that the war was necessary to safeguard America, that this larger good overcame any errors in the conduct of the war, mistakes that even the president admitted had occurred. An examination of several specific past conflicts and relating these to the Iraq War of 2003 proves this argument to be false. a historical comparison does so both by underscoring just how badly the administration managed the war, and how these mistakes have undone the last importance the president attached to the war—that it has kept the United States safe. in fact, by using history as a guide, the damage to U. S. national security is fully comprehended.

This book originated in March 2004, when representatives of the U. S. Marine Corps located at Camp Pendleton, San Diego, invited me to speak and address the following question: what commonalities underscore both a successful insurgency and counterinsurgency? My Marine hosts believed that an examination of past irregular conflict along these lines might determine how history can lend itself to better understanding what makes a successful counterinsurgency doctrine. I eagerly undertook this analysis and presented a paper that June to some thirty officers and enlisted men, all of whom were preparing to deploy to Iraq within a month. Now, several years later, I reaffirm and expand these findings in this book-length treatment of the topic.

I told the Marine Corps that a study of the historical record shows that, most of the time, a counterinsurgency that makes use of primarily . . .

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