Counterinsurgency Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan Analytical Essay by scribbler

A critical analysis of the obstacles facing the United States' counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
# 153153 | 2,814 words | 12 sources | MLA | 2013 | US

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Chosen as a "Paper of the Week":

Paper of the week

On December 18, 2011, many US soldiers, their families, and indeed, the general US population, received an early holiday gift when the last of the US soldiers in Iraq left Iraqui soil and crossed over into neighboring Kuwait.  After  almost 4500 US deaths, nearly nine years of an American presence in Iraq, and over one trillion dollars in costs, the last US convoy finally left Iraq.  In honor of that momentous day and occasion, paper #153153, "Counterinsurgency Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan", has been chosen for this week's Paper of the Week on AcaDemon.  As the title of the paper suggests, it examines US attempts at counterinsurgency in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  The paper considers the obstacles to this strategy, whether or not lessons from previous wars can be applied to Iraq and Afghanistan, how the practice of nation-building might aid counterinsurgency attempts, approaches that should be considered, and ethical issues.  This is a very well-thought out paper that sheds light on the many complications that the US has yet to deal with in these nations.


The paper discusses the elements of modern insurgency and looks at the weaknesses in the United States' approach to fighting insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The paper shows how the insurgents operating in Iraq and Afghanistan are products of a new age blessed with new technology, new weaponry, and a differing ideological foundation to the enemy that was in Vietnam. The paper focuses on America's goal of introducing a democratic form of government and points out that establishing democratic principles to a state where tribal loyalties and clan membership have ruled the day for centuries is not likely to succeed. The paper calls for the United States government to begin formulating a counterinsurgency program that does not involve state-building and that uses local forces to undermine the operations of the insurgent groups, but points out that in order to adopt such an approach, the United States must develop a better understanding of how the internal politics of Iraq and Afghanistan operate on both a local and national level.

From the Paper:

"The United States government has not always been well prepared for the conflicts in which it has found itself involved. Despite the tough lessons taught by its involvement in the Korean War and the Vietnam conflict the US failed to foresee the problems that manifested themselves when it engaged its armed forces in the actions in Iraq an Afghanistan (Johnson 2006). The concept of counterinsurgency was afforded little or no consideration by the US military prior to its interventions in both Iraq and Afghanistan but, as recent history has demonstrate, its role in the operations in both fields of action have been significant (Ritter 2003).
"A precise definition as to what constitutes counterinsurgency is nearly impossible to capsulate. In the broadest sense it is any loosely organized attempt to defeat the sources of insurgency in any given conflict. Complicating the matter further is that the insurgent forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan are not opposed to the national governments in place but have expanded their opposition to include opposition to outside entities and philosophies as well. Today's insurgents do not limit their activities to threats against their individual government and its agencies but use a more widespread approach (Metz 2004). Terrorism knows no boundaries and today's insurgents are likely to strike wherever they feel they may gain a tactical advantage."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Ahmed, F. Sons of Iraq and Awakening Forces. Military Analysis, Institute for the Study of War, 2008.
  • Friedman, B. "Don't pull and Iraq in Afghanistan." Christian Science Monitor, April 3, 2008.
  • Geinger, V. "Petraeus Stresses Shielding Afghans, Self-Defense in New Rules." Bloomberg Report, August 4, 2010.
  • Gordon, M. "Afghan Strategy Poses Stiff Challenge For Obama." New York Times, December 1, 2008.
  • Johnson, T. and Mason, T. C. "Understaning the Taliban and Insurgency in Afghanistan." Foreign Policy Research Institute, 2006: 71-89.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Counterinsurgency Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan (2013, May 05) Retrieved July 16, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Counterinsurgency Efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan" 05 May 2013. Web. 16 July. 2020. <>