“Winning hearts and minds” has been a key to recent U.S. wars ranging from Vietnam, to Iraq, and now in Afghanistan.
But Thomas H. Henriksen says that such costly ventures may have outlived their usefulness. “In Afghanistan, the NATO presence was less an army of occupation than an armed charity operation,” he writes in the latest Hoover Digest, a publication of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
What is so different today in the American way of counterinsurgency, however, is America’s lavish expenditures on the targeted population. Much of this effort is too costly and too ineffective. In the past, protection, safety, and survival alone were sufficient inducements to an embattled community. Today, winning hearts and minds has evolved in American hands from basic security to far-reaching, infrastructure-building enterprises.
The article is an excerpt from the book WHAM: Winning Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan and Elsewhere, published by the Joint Special Operations University.
The Joint Special Operations University?
Afraid so. According to its website, the university, located on the grounds of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., has as its mission:
…to educate Special Operations Forces executive, senior, and intermediate leaders and selected other national and international security decision-makers, both military and civilian, through teaching, research, and outreach in the science and art of Joint Special Operations.
Speaking of lavish expenditures that are costly and ineffective…