Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq

Article excerpt

INSURGENCY AND COUNTER-INSURGENCY IN IRAQ, Ahmed S. Hashim, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 2006,389 pages, $29.95.

Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq is a candid, balanced insight into the complex challenges in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. Discussing motives, tactics, and the evolutionary nature of the insurgency, author Ahmed Hashim is adroit at drawing intricate strands into an understandable whole. Complementary chapters address the insurgents' way of warfare and the challenges of competing national identities. However, it is Hashim's matter-of-fact evaluation of U. S. counter-insurgency that many will find enlightening and on occasion disconcerting.

Hashim's thesis in a section titled "Ideology, Politics, and Failure to Execute" is that U.S. policy and the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign have played a central role in the outbreak and perpetuation of the insurgency. The author deftly articulates three reasons why the U.S. stumbled so badly: it adopted a rigid and inflexibly ideological approach; it failed to implement the basics of state rebuilding in the immediate aftermath of war; and its military had no counterinsurgency strategy going into the war. Such criticism will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, but Hashim's arguments are cogent and balanced. They deserve to be aired.

Hashim draws on history to improve our understanding of today's challenges. He highlights the fact that it was the British in 1921 who institutionalized Sunni political domination in Iraq, and, in a comparison of the U. …

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