Iraq cooled from a raging boil to a slow simmer, thanks mostly to tactics taken from the military's counterinsurgency manual. Or, at least, that's the accepted wisdom. But a group of military thinkers and Iraq veterans says the established narrative is all wrong. According to them, Iraq may not even be an insurgency at all.
In the classic insurgency scenario, you've got a group of guerrillas on one side, and an otherwise-legitimate "host government" on the other. It's the job of a military like America's to tip the balance towards stability and order, by keeping the insurgents from overthrowing that government.
[...] Instead, what seems to be going on in Iraq is a “competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources,” as General David Petraeus put it. Shi'ites are fighting Shi'ites; Sunnis are battling Sunnis; splinter groups from both sects are waging a low-level religious war; AQI and other jihadists are stirring chaos; and criminal gangs trying to profit from the mayhem. It's an "extremely difficult and lethal problem," observes Lt. Col. Ollivant, who, until recently, was the chief of planning for U.S. military operations in Baghdad. "But it "is not exactly an insurgency."