Cassandra in Oz: Counterinsurgency and Future War

In This Review

Cassandra in Oz: Counterinsurgency and Future War
By Conrad C. Crane
Naval Institute Press, 2016
320 pp.

Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, many experts issued warnings about how dire the aftermath might be without proper preparations. Crane was one such Cassandra; he was ignored by the Bush administration along with all the others. But in 2006, the Pentagon turned to Crane to help draft a new counterinsurgency manual for the U.S. Army and the Marines. The resulting text influenced the conduct of the so-called surge in Iraq that began the following year. Crane’s memoir includes a few too many reports of conferences and lists of their attendees, and the book’s discussion of military doctrine sometimes becomes abstruse. Yet Crane’s reflections deserve attention, for they illuminate the key questions of counterinsurgency with great lucidity. His book offers a rare account of how military bureaucracies debate strategy, along with plenty of good-sense suggestions that should guide future campaigns. It would be a shame if Crane became a Cassandra once more.