Oh, great!

Now that we’ve won the combat part of the Iraqi war, the Project for a New American Century says it’s time to start a “counterinsurgency” or “pacification” campaign. Well, that’s one way to spell “long, hard slog.”

I’m not saying they’re wrong, but it would have been nice to have been warned up front.

And it would also be nice if the exponents of the counerinsurgency strategy were prepared to be a little bit more frank about the nasty bits that are almost certainly inseparable from such a effort. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to fight and win a counterinsurgency campaign without violating the laws of war; I’m just saying that, to my knowledge, the thing has never been done.

From this distance, of course, it’s impossible to tell what the op-ed means. It might be a trial balloon by the Administration, or more likely by the neocon faction within it, to see if the country, and the political class, would hold still for such an effort. (My guess is that they wouldn’t — sending more troops in sounds like a political non-starter, at least until after November 2004 — but I’m not much of a guesser in that department.) Or going public might be a desperation tactic, a sign that the Crusader faction has been losing the power struggle to the grownups.

As I’ve said before: If things are going so damned well, why is this stuff necessary?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com