Friday, February 27, 2009

COIN Tourism

This article recommends that Iraq follow Colombia's example and, if I read it right, incorporate tourism into its COIN strategy. Not sure that the author is being real coherent (make no mistake, it could well be me, little bit whacked & sleep deprived), but I think he's saying that Iraq should identify its most marketable tourist destinations, focus security improvements there, and then use the resulting burgeoning tourist industry to pump in hard currency and solidify stabilization gains.
That doesn't sound quite right. Maybe it's better to use tourism as a metric of COIN success, but one has to be pretty careful; premature opening of a tourist site could have catastrophic negative consequences if the jihadis get a vote. I added my two-cents on Iraqi tourism earlier.
But to limit the use of the Colombian example to just tourism is selling short the lessons that can be gained from studying COIN in Colombia. In many ways, Colombia is the textbook case for counterinsurgency. The FARC is on the ropes, the ELN is almost a non-player anymore.
Alvaro Uribe is a truly heroic politician, much as that term has become an oxymoron most of the world over. His refusal to negotiate with or offer appeasement to the FARC has been one of the keys to victory. To demonstrate how far Colombia has come: on the day Uribe's predecessor, Pastrana, left office, the ELN mortared the Presidential residence, just because they could and to say "thanks for the memories, fuck you." Now, Colombia is being touted as a tourism hotspot.
Full Disclosure: I am pretty much a Colombophile, and love the place. I'd move the whole famn damily there lock, stock and barrel if the Army ever offered me the chance. Of course, that would entail introducing Mongo's Wife (US, Primary, 1 each) to Mongo's Colombian wife. It would probably be a little awkward at first, but I think we could all work through it. Right, honey? Honey?

1 comment:

  1. Cant imagine what to do and see on tourism in Iraq.Columbia is another story since drug cartels have been removed country has been opened up and relative safe for tourist me. Would like to here more from your perspective, talk later hope leave is going well. radarcheck.