Raising Jihad

Instead of turning back Islamism, military interventions lead large swaths of local populations to pick up arms in defense of their homelands

Issue: Mar-Apr 2009

David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 384 pp., $27.95.


IN WASHINGTON, protracted crisis creates opportunities. The cold war gave rise to a national-security elite whose members flourished for decades while rotating in and out of government. To this very day, the Arab-Israeli "peace process" performs a similar function, supporting the existence of various research institutes and advocacy groups while providing fodder for endless conferencing and endlessly repetitive studies, essays and op-eds.

The Long War-the Pentagon's preferred name for the global war on terror-promises to do much the same. Whatever else one may say of this conflict, it has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to generate jobs. Established federal agencies have expanded. New ones have come into existence. Think tanks have proliferated. Contractors and lobbyists have prospered. Given the assumption-shared by mainstream Democrats and Republicans alike-that the Long War will continue for decades if not generations, its potential as an engine for career opportunities appears vast indeed.

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