Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

John Lennon, COIN theorist?

I was thinking about how the great but necessary leap in counterinsurgency is to arm the locals, even if the central government opposes it. Once you make them able to provide their own security, they can start making choices, and you can start thinking about leaving. It occurred to be that this essential move can ...

MYCHELE DANIAU/AFP/Getty Images

I was thinking about how the great but necessary leap in counterinsurgency is to arm the locals, even if the central government opposes it. Once you make them able to provide their own security, they can start making choices, and you can start thinking about leaving.

It occurred to be that this essential move can be summarized with two catchphrases of the 1960s: "power to the people" and "think globally, act locally." That made me wonder if other '60s phrases might also apply. Question authority? If it feels good, do it?

I was thinking about how the great but necessary leap in counterinsurgency is to arm the locals, even if the central government opposes it. Once you make them able to provide their own security, they can start making choices, and you can start thinking about leaving.

It occurred to be that this essential move can be summarized with two catchphrases of the 1960s: “power to the people” and “think globally, act locally.” That made me wonder if other ’60s phrases might also apply. Question authority? If it feels good, do it?

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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