The American philosophy is to win a popularity contest by being friendlier and richer than the insurgents. [Iraqi company commander] Mohammed wants to be tougher.2

Counterinsurgency, no less than conventional war, is more art than science, more complex than simple, more demanding of an innovative mind than an uninquiring one. One notion will not fit all circumstances. Absolutes should spur doubt rather than acceptance. The counterinsurgents featured in the two cases considered in this chapter demonstrate an approach – that of employing overwhelming force as the primary means for defeating an insurgency – most would consider unavailable to governments representing liberal societies, nations apt to impose on themselves the strictures of international law and humanitarian concerns. Yet the accomplishments achieved by Russia and Sri Lanka provide the first chance to highlight a crucial premise: that of counterinsurgency success being a process rather than an accomplishment, at least when one considers a COIN campaign in terms of years rather than decades. “Progress” rather than “success” is the more apt gauge. “Success” implies a finality counterinsurgencies rarely achieve until one or more decades have passed since the last of their more prominent military operations. Those responsible for leading such campaigns are better served by treating counterinsurgent undertakings in terms of advancing toward the ends sought than believing their task completed. Apparent triumphs can be deceiving. Recalling our definition of counterinsurgency, defeat of an insurgency does not mark the end of a campaign. There remains the addressing of grievances underlying the original rise and sustainment of the defeated movement. Though it may seem odd to reach back some two millennia in a book touting the value of lessons from events of only the most recent decades, the following brief hiatus provides a helpful backdrop given the need for caution when putting the words “success” and “counterinsurgency” in too close proximity.