Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The right way to do Iraq, and the wrong way

Two excerpts from my new book The Gamble are running in the Washington Post Sunday and Monday. There also are some cool on-line only things — not just another excerpt, but also a great video about how one officer, Capt. Samuel Cook of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, conducted counterinsurgency operations in one part of Iraq ...

Two excerpts from my new book The Gamble are running in the Washington Post Sunday and Monday. There also are some cool on-line only things -- not just another excerpt, but also a great video about how one officer, Capt. Samuel Cook of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, conducted counterinsurgency operations in one part of Iraq last year. (To read more about how Cook talked an insurgent leader into cooperation, read this excerpt from the book, a section called "The Insurgent Who Loved Titanic.")

This video, by contrast, strikes me as an example of how not to do it. The American officer might have an excuse for talking like this, but everything I've seen about Iraqis tells me that publicly disparaging them is not the way to go. This motivational speech reminds me of the way Marine sergeants were talking to Iraqi army soldiers in the spring of 2004, just before the soldiers mutinied and refused to go to Fallujah.

And for those who missed it, here (in two parts) is the interview I did Sunday with David Gregory on Meet the Press.

Two excerpts from my new book The Gamble are running in the Washington Post Sunday and Monday. There also are some cool on-line only things — not just another excerpt, but also a great video about how one officer, Capt. Samuel Cook of the 3rd Armored Cavalry, conducted counterinsurgency operations in one part of Iraq last year. (To read more about how Cook talked an insurgent leader into cooperation, read this excerpt from the book, a section called "The Insurgent Who Loved Titanic.")

This video, by contrast, strikes me as an example of how not to do it. The American officer might have an excuse for talking like this, but everything I’ve seen about Iraqis tells me that publicly disparaging them is not the way to go. This motivational speech reminds me of the way Marine sergeants were talking to Iraqi army soldiers in the spring of 2004, just before the soldiers mutinied and refused to go to Fallujah.

And for those who missed it, here (in two parts) is the interview I did Sunday with David Gregory on Meet the Press.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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