CNAS and Its Image Problem

Michael Crowley’s piece raised an interesting point about how counterinsurgency thinking is sold and received in Washington, zeroing in on CNAS President John Nagl’s central role in giving it the slick gloss that ensures even skeptics buy into it. Contrast that with CNAS efforts to prove it’s more than just a one-trick pony: CNAS reports on national security issues that have nothing to do with counterinsurgency fail to convince…. indeed, the response to such efforts lies somewhere been patronizing smile and cruel snicker. How to fix it? It probably doesn’t help that CNAS is led by one of the most recognizable faces in what Crowley dubbed the “cult of counterinsurgency.”

I wonder: if Nagl were to be replaced with, say, a scholar or practitioner  with broad and fair expertise across the range of security issues – or even with someone who’s a recognized authority on anything but counterinsurgency and counterterrorism – wouldn’t that boost CNAS credibility by visibly redistributing its eggs from one basket to several?

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