I have been following with interest the recent debate in Small Wars Journal in reaction to Andrew Bacevich's now-famous Atlantic article about the differing intellectual factions within the Army. In his article, Bacevich constructs a rather simplistic duality between groups he dubs "Crusaders" and "Conservatives." Crusaders are COIN/Irregular Warfare specialists who believe in re-orienting elements of national power to fight a Long War againt radicalized elements of the Muslim world while Conservatives fret over the damage to conventional capabilities and worry that open-ended wars of occupation would weaken America as other powers (China, Russia, India) continue to rise.
The chief problem with this debate is the duality itself, which is inherently unstable. There are many "Conservatives" who support COIN capabilities without believing in the Long War frame. Ironically, the person who COIN crusaders loathe the most, Air Force Gen. Chartles Dunlap Jr., has written enthusiastically about fighting counterinsurgencies--although his air and bomber centric method for doing so has aroused much indignation. Likewise, there are many COIN enthusiasts, especially on the SWC discussion board, who have voiced traditionally liberatarian or paleoconservatives arguments against intervention abroad. Lastly, as Shawn Brimley wrote, it is possible to take the "Crusader" position of building COIN capabilities while retaining a "Conservative" position of grand strategy.
I do share, however, Bacevich's concern over the ironic reality that matters of grand strategy are only being freely discussed in the military community. There is little to no public debate over the wider course of US grand strategy beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan--especially in light of our greatly diminisheed financial position. Instead, there is only a mass of popular pieties that may soon be violently dispelled.