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Sep 12, 2007 1:12 am

Wise Words

"The Vietnam experience left the military leadership feeling that they should advise against involvement in counterinsurgencies unless specific, perhaps unlikely, circumstances obtain -- i.e. domestic public support, the promise of a quick campaign, and freedom to employ whatever force is necessary to achieve rapid victory. In light of such criteria, committing U.S. units to counterinsurgencies appears to be a very problematic proposition, difficult to conclude before domestic support erodes and costly enough to threaten the well-being of all America's military forces (and hence the country's national security), not just those involved in the actual counterinsurgency."

David Howell Petraeus, The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A study of military influence and the use of force in the post-Vietnam era. PhD Dissertation, Princeton University, 1987. Page 305.

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Chris Bray - 9/12/2007

I thought it would have been a great thing for someone to ask about, while Petraeus was up in front of a congressional committee this week. But a set of well-framed questions would have interfered with the speechifying, so never mind.

Ed Darrell - 9/12/2007

I wonder whether he reviewed his dissertation either before his current deployment to Iraq, or before he wrote his testimony -- in short, I wonder how closely he keeps his 20-year-old thoughts close.

I wonder whether he'd change any of his conclusions in his dissertation, today.

Thanks for the post, especially for the link to the disseration.