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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Debunking the Dominant Iraq Narrative

I've occasionally blogged about the power of "the surge" narrative. Both the Bush administration, for obvious reasons, and the Obama administration (because of Afghanistan) have a strong political interest in embracing the alleged success in Iraq.

Time magazine intern Nate Rawlings, formerly of the U.S. Army's 4th Infantry Division and now a student at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, returned briefly to Iraq last fall and addressed this powerful framing of events. The following analysis appeared just before the November 2010 elections, though Iraq was NOT a significant issue in the campaign:
RAWLINGS: According to the American narrative, enlightened U.S. military commanders co-opted the insurgents, persuading them to point their guns away from us and toward al-Qaeda. But the story is told differently here: Sheik Abdel Jabbar al-Feydawi, leader of the Albu Fahed tribe, rallied his people against al-Qaeda because the terrorists murdered his brother. He did it with little assistance from the Americans and took none of their reconstruction money.
What is perhaps most interesting about this is that Rawlings is not really debunking "the surge" narrative related to increasing manpower. Rather, he is challenging the Anbar Awakening and, at least indirectly, the effectiveness of U.S. COIN strategy.

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