Arthur Herman details the remarkable parallels between what the U.S. is experiencing in Iraq today and what France experienced in Algeria in the 1950s. Then, as now, military success against an insurgency was trumped by a failure of political will.
For the French, the price of failure in Algeria was the collapse of one Republic and a permanent stain on the next–along with the deep alienation of the French military from the political establishment that it believed (with considerable justification) had betrayed it. Here at home, it took the American military almost a decade and a half to recover its confidence and resiliency after the failure and humiliation of Vietnam. How we would weather another and even more consequential humiliation is anybody’s guess; but the stakes are enormous, and the clock is ticking.
The similarities — and the potential consequences of failure — are chilling.