• Why COIN Failed in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan

    July 3, 2012

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    My former colleague Bill Johnson, himself a veteran of multiple COIN interactions on both the military and civillian sides, offer this insight:

    The problem in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan is not that COIN can’t work. The problem is that one can only counter an insurgency if a legitimate government, supported by the majority of the people but opposed by an insurgency, exists.

    The governments in each of these three cases were illegitimate, created and supported by force from the United States, after which the United States had it’s creation adopt the superficial trappings of democracy in order to have some claim on legitimacy. There was not in any case a legitimate government, and thus no insurgency–legitimate government is a necessary condition for an insurgency to exist.

    What existed in these cases was a legitimate government not to our liking (Vietnam), a power vacuum caused by the total destruction of the existing government (Iraq), and an illegitimate government which we toppled and replaced with another illegitimate government (Afghanistan). In none of these cases could COIN be properly executed. The conditions demanded by COIN theory simply did not exist.

    Our support of Colombia’s battle with the FARC is the closest we have come to actually putting COIN theory into practice, and we and the Colombians have had some success there. This is largely due to the fact that most Colombians support the government established by the Constitution the Colombian people approved in 1991. The sad part about this success story is that there would be no insurgency and no FARC if the United States would do away with its failed policy to ban drugs.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Why COIN Failed in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan:

      COIN-cidentally, US “strategy” cannot work when there is no sane reason for US being there in the first place.

      07/3/12 3:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Jhoover said...


      Lieutenant General Jay Garner, was appointed after Iraq’s invasion in 2003 as Director of the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, replaced later by Paul Bremer. Harvard Professor of Law Noah Feldman was the man most responsible for writing Iraq’s constitution.

      Iraq, It’s not just the problem with illegitimate, created and supported by force from the United States, also the constitution created by US spoiled baby Noah Feldman and which build on sectarian agenda falsely voted and applied with a lot of distractive clauses. “Noah Feldman, architect of Iraq’s Constitution requiring Shariah, as a star faculty member at Harvard Law School. On March 16, 2008, Feldman published his controversial article “Why Sharia” in the New York Times Magazine, which promoted “Islamists” – the Muslim Brotherhood – as a progressive democratic party, and promoted Sharia as a model not just for Muslim-majority countries but for all: “In fact, for most of its history, Islamic law offered the most liberal and humane legal principles available anywhere in the world…” The article was adapted from his book The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, which was published in late March, 2008”. With his ilkPeter W. Galbraitha smart and bold foreign policy expert, has always described himself as an unpaid adviser to the Kurds, who became Mr. 5% .,

      Today Iraq ending with political struggle as those useless, thieves and gangsters brought by US to be “elected and crate political parties “Iran’s minded and Hearts” force on the well of Iraqis.

      07/3/12 7:38 PM | Comment Link

    • Jhoover said...


      The conditions demanded by COIN theory simply did not exist?

      Let read this from Iraqis who are smarter than those flashy names of US boys:

      The Empowerment of Governorates in Iraq

      07/3/12 7:43 PM | Comment Link

    • Meloveconsullongtime said...


      “US “strategy” cannot work when there is no sane reason for US being there in the first place.”

      And that’s only one factor. The British counter-insurgency during the American Revolution failed even though the British DID have a good reason for being there in the first place.

      07/4/12 5:44 AM | Comment Link

    • jim at rangeragainstwar said...


      Coin or any form of warfare requires legitimacy of purpose.
      In coin it’s the host nation that must be successful, albeit with outside assistance. Bottom line- it ain’t about us-it’s about THEM.
      Why is the concept of the COUNTRY TEAM never mentioned anymore?
      When evaluating VN/AFGH/IRQ it must be remembered and factored in the effect of religion.Then throw in a dash of anti-colonialism and shake and bake.
      The use of Colombia as a successful coin op is deceiving since it’s questionable if farc is not simply a criminal organization.

      07/4/12 12:10 PM | Comment Link

    • Barb said...


      If you believe we have wasted far too many American lives on this war with fantasy objectives and tactics, please join us for non politically correct dialogue! We are not ‘anti war’ – but most of us believe this war is a sham and those in charge are at least guilty of treason. http://www.facebook.com/#!/RoE.USMilitary

      07/27/12 2:17 AM | Comment Link

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