9 years, 10 months ago
On April 15, 2007, Dave Kilcullen authored a commentary on Edward Luttwak’s commentary entitled Dead End: Counterinsurgency Warfare as Military Malpractice. Kilcullen invokes this discussion in his most recent commentary entitled Religion and Insurgency at the Small Wars Journal; Kilcullen puts forward a series of interesting thoughts on the role (or lack thereof) of religion in the current insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Without studying these articles, my commentary will be read in a vacuum. It is recommended that you spend the time necessary to understand Kilcullen’s arguments before tackling my response. In the lengthy article that follows, Smith responds to Kilcullen; first to his views concerning the relationship of Islam and the insurgency in Iraq, second to his views concerning the Peters / Luttwak position, and finally the current state of affairs concerning rules of engagement and the Petraeus letter to the troops concerning the same.
The three central theses of Kilcullen’s commentary follow:
First, there is solid field evidence that modern counterinsurgency methods, properly updated for the new environment, actually are effective against current insurgencies. Second, insurgents in both Afghanistan and Iraq are not actually particularly religious — certainly, they are no more religious than the societies they are attacking. Indeed, there is an empirical problem with the whole notion of a “religious