The Classroom Lessons of Iraq

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In twenty years the Iraq war — like the Napoleonic and Peloponnesian Wars before it — will be taught in classrooms at West Point and Annapolis. It will offer lessons on tactics, strategy, leadership and politics. What will a future generation of brand-new officers learn from this war when the war itself has become old?

This afternoon a young former Marine Captain told us he’d teach Machiavelli in twenty years, that The Prince tells us to treat nobles and burghers differently, and to understand intimately the interests of everyone you’re dealing with. All lessons still applicable, he said, to a lieutenant working with tribal leaders.

What are the classroom lessons of Iraq? For platoon leaders and battalion commanders? Does the army need more civil affairs officers or more special forces, or both? What’s on the syllabus for the West Point class of 2026?

John Mearsheimer

Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago

Author, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics

P.J. Crowley

Senior Fellow and Director of National Defense and Homeland Security, Center for American Progress

Special Assistant to President Clinton for National Security Affairs

Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Retired)

Peter Mansoor

Colonel, U.S. Army

Director, U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center

Author, The GI Offensive in Europe: The Triumph of U.S. Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945

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