This blog by the dons of the Kings College Dept. of War Studies is worthy of consideration: http://kingsofwar.wordpress.com/2009/09/ My bold. I would characterize the counter position represented by pundit Friedman rather than a truly principled argument. It is rather more a variation on the theme I have put forward that it is extremely difficult for western nations with representative governments and open societies to wage successful COIN campaigns in today's world. This is so for a variety of reasons but these nations (including the US and the UK) have populations that are generally relatively "spoiled" in the sense of being insulated from the political and social conditions that usually exist in nations where insurgencies are active. As such, they suffer from incredibly short attention spans and impatience (just consider how we get frustrated now when a download takes a few more seconds than usual or, at least in the US, our fast food order is delayed for even a minute). It is no wonder, therefore, that such nations begin questioning the worth of a given COIN campaign almost as soon as it begins. This gains momentum and speed as the war drags on and becomes camouflaged with high-sounding reasons why the campaign is now not worth continuing. I believe that an honest analysis usually shows that the reasons (presumably one or more articulable and legitimate national security interests) have not changed from those that prompted the initial involvement but rather the people (or more likely particular and usually more outspoken constituencies) are beginning to lose patience and interest. Rather than admit it is something as superficial as a lack of patience, these critics invoke things like changed conditions or corrupt government in the nation where the COIN op is being conducted as rationales for wanting to terminate the involvement. An alternative but even more dangerous response than advocating a total withdrawal is the attempt to marginalize the campaign or do it on the "cheap." This leads to real problems in that the resources needed by the military force may not be made available. This in turn may cause or accompany other dangerous actions by the COIN force government such as inappropriate influence on or direction to military commanders as to strategy, tactics and objectives. I believe we are seeing some of this now playing out among the coalition partners in Afghanistan and especially in the UK and the US.