But there is a real danger in self-congratulatory history. It is precisely when a power thinks it is superb at doing things that things seem to go wrong. At a time when the US under Petraeus is making quantum leaps in its COIN capacity, the British also need to be in a state of continual revision. As Basra collapses into near-anarchy, AQI are being severely damaged by the US-assisted realignment of factions in northern Iraq.
Second, smug identity makes it difficult to listen to criticism: from President Karzai, from Secretary of Defence Gates, from Afghans aghast at the counter-narcotics operation that burns their economy down and leaves a dispossessed agrarian class feeding Taliban ranks.
If the Brits are to use one of their genuinely historical gifts, the flair for improvisation, they first must acknowledge a bitter truth: Basra has been a bad result. As has Musa Qala. Never mind formulating a theory of victory. What they need first is a theory of defeat.
Matt at MountainRunner has a great catch on Iranian propaganda -“Pressure and Aggression No Longer Guarantee the Achievement of our Goals – We Must Consider ‘Culture-Building’” ( Hat tip SWJ Blog)