The United States has been at war for nearly a decade and a half, and although American military forces achieved tactical success in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have not been able to convert military victory into political success. This failure to consolidate military gains into stable order has cost both American lives and treasure, not to mention American credibility.
This failure to translate military success into a favorable political outcome is the subject of Nadia Schadlow’s important new book. Why have our civilian and military leaders consistently failed to devote appropriate attention and resources to organizing for the political requirements of military intervention? The problem is not a new one. Afghanistan and Iraq are not aberrations.
Indeed, the requirement for American military governance goes back, at least, to the Mexican War. And the necessity for military governance is not limited to “small wars” or counterinsurgencies. Our most successful military governance operations were executed after World War II in Japan, Germany, and Italy.