The new ground commander in Iraq, Lieutenant-General David Petraeus, is reputed to be an expert on counterinsurgency. Reportedly, he wants to apply the lessons of Malaya and Northern Ireland to Iraq. Malaya is considered an outright success for the British counterinsurgents; Northern Ireland is a bit harder to call. The three situations have various similarities and differences among them, so it is difficult to say how this will work. Some of the lessons of Malaya and Northern Ireland are the importance of unity of command (both civilian and military efforts lead by one overall commander), restraint in the use of force, police taking the lead, population security, and patience and persistence. Malaya took a decade; Northern Ireland has been going on for over three. In his comments, Petraeus emphasizes population security but the Iraqi police are not reliable. He wont have unity of command over US personnel, let alone both US and Iraqi personnel. He will be working with an experienced U.S. Ambassador, however, and that might help. One advantage the British had in Malaya and Northern Ireland was that they owned both places. They were the sovereign government. We are not the sovereign government in Iraq, as President Bush has noted repeatedly.