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Fresh Air on Counter Insurgency

I recommend a superb interview about Iraq with John Nagl, who helped write the COIN manual.  It is on Fresh Air on NPR.  This program sits on the soft left side of the radio spectrum, which is why this interview is so interesting.  The host obviously is a light-weight compared with Nagl.  You can hear in her voice and demeanor that she knows that too and is impressed with his knowledge.  She really seems to have learned something.  Her questions are sometimes leading and simplistic but his answers make it all work. 

Getting accurate news out on a venue such as Fresh Air is useful.  I suspect that many of the listeners are as badly in need of the education as the show’s host.  The popular stereotype of the Iraq conflict and the people fighting it are out of whack with reality, but too often on shows like this you hear “experts” repeating them in a self-sustaining circle.  A dose of reality will be a breath of fresh air.

Anyway, this is the link to the John Nagl Interview.     

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Thanks for this post and link. Often times I listen to NPR on one of my commutes. While public radio is considered "Left", there have been many times I've found them to be better rounded than the other networks.

John Matel responds.

I listen to NPR all the time. It is the best place for complete news. You just have to correct for the choice of topics. The talk shows often have a good balance of guests, but many of the hosts are a little biased. For example, I like to listen to the Diane Rehm show. She has good guests, but I know Diane will make some strange remark at least once each show.

IMO the best news sources are "the Economist", The Newshour with Jim Leher & the various NPR programs.

Informative, but Nagl is a predictable biased NPR source - Follow the thread on his "new think tank" The Center for a New America Security (CNUS) and you will find it is co-founded by Michele Flourney, a career policy wonk. She co-authored a pre-surge 2006 article in State sub-titled "There are no more troops to send to Iraq". Key quote: "It isn't clear that [the surge] will stem the tide of sectarian violence" and in any event, we lack the troops to send and "Anbar is lost". CNUS is setting itself up for fat grants from the Obama administration.

Let me moderate my last comment: A bit of browsing and research on CNAS and Michele Flourney reveals a more informed and nuanced opinion on the current situation in Iraq. Her recent testimony to the Senate in April, based on her own travels to Iraq, is actually very objective and insightful in describing the current situation and the problems facing a new president.

Hopefully, Obama will draw upon the ranks of military professionals like Nagl with recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan for guidance and ignore the left-wing extremists who are pushing for immediate withdrawal.