McChrystal, Tocqueville, and the Koran: The Postmodern 'COINage' of a Failed Policy

Retired Col. Douglas MacGregor, an accomplished military strategist who attended West Point with Gen. McChrystal, remonstrated:

The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people. The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is  utter nonsense.

MacGregor's plaintive statement reiterated the essence of Marine Corps Sergeant Major (Ret.) James Sauer's criticisms elaborated with meticulous detail -- doctrinal, historical, and hands-on experiential -- in an October 2009 essay. But perhaps even more revealing -- and damning -- was the impassioned comment about the prohibitively restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) McChrystal has imposed upon U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan. A Special Forces soldier with years of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan opined:

Bottom line? I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers' lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing.

With a combined wisdom and intellectual honesty almost absent in journalism today, Diana West has been chronicling, tirelessly, the dangerous absurdities of our "See-No-Islam" COIN strategy, pitted against the menace of global Islamic jihadism. Following McChrystal's resignation, West, in her singular clarity, further identified the Gordian knot intertwining COIN doctrine and our troops' hideously self-destructive ROEs -- which she aptly termed "a post-modern form of human sacrifice" -- in Afghanistan.

It is this COIN theory that is directly responsible for the unconscionably restrictive ROEs that have been attracting media attention, a postmodern form of human sacrifice staged to appease the endlessly demanding requirements of political correctness regarding Islam. There is no separating the two. If we have COIN, we have these same heinous ROEs.

West also reminded those engaging in wishful speculation that Gen. Petraeus, now re-assigned to McChrystal's former command in Afghanistan, would somehow alter the current ROEs:

And there is no sign of the COIN nightmare ending anytime soon. Alas, the new commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, is the man who literally wrote the  COIN book.

Subsequently, Pentagon analyst Anthony Cordesman concurred with West's assessment, noting:

Gen. Petraeus has been in the loop during the formulation of these [ROEs], has been  sitting in on weekly satellite conferences, has been part of most of the major monthly and  quarterly reviews. So this is not somebody coming to this with a new set of attitudes.

Moreover, while he commanded U.S. troops in Iraq, Petraeus (re-)stated during a 2007 interview with National Public Radio the standard mantra of COIN enthusiasts: that this mode of warfare featured "protecting the Iraqi population," ostensibly to avoid actions which "create more enemies than you take off the streets."