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The Reluctant Counter-insurgents: Britain's Absent Surge in Southern Iraq

Bennett, Huw 2014. The Reluctant Counter-insurgents: Britain's Absent Surge in Southern Iraq. In: Gventer, C.W, Jones, D. M. and Smith, M. L. R. eds. The New Counter-insurgency Era in Critical Perspective, Rethinking Political Violence, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 278-298. (10.1057/9781137336941_15)

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Britain’s participation in the Iraq war was beset by controversy before the invasion even began. Many observers expected disaster, and seemed vindicated as the country fell into a sprawling insurgency.1 Mistakes made early in the occupation appeared to have sparked an unstoppable descent into vast destruction. Then a radical decision by President Bush, in January 2007, altered this trajectory.2 By August 2006, civilian fatalities in Iraq averaged over 1,500 per month, alongside almost 100 American military dead. Yet by June 2008, civilian fatalities per month were down to around 200, and American military killed under a dozen.3 The surge of 30,000 soldiers, matched by changed tactics, doctrine, and Sunni politics, showed defeat was not inevitable. One of Britain’s main objectives in entering the war had been to cement Anglo-American relations. Poor military performance in Iraq is widely perceived to have damaged these relations.4 This chapter asks why the British army failed to emulate its American allies in conducting a successful counter-insurgency (COIN) in Iraq.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISBN: 978-1137336934
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Last Modified: 28 Oct 2020 15:50

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