Two good items on a similar theme. First, Major Michael Burgoyne (of Defense of Jisr al-Doreaa fame) has a great article on the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) movement in Peru and how the failure of the government to exert political as well as purely military control has allowed them to come back.
Second, Major Niel Smith has a similar article casting some skepticism about the exportability of the "Sri Lankan Model." He explains how exactly the Sri Lankan government achieved victory, and while pure destruction (and not caring what the outside world thought) was a good deal of it, the real causes were the effective isolation of the battlespace and the professionalization of Sri Lankan combat forces.
Just because COIN is not warm and fuzzy does not mean that a rote focus on one measure alone works. In COIN---like every other kind of war--strategists use engagements for the purpose of war. In a war of erosion (which most irregular wars are), it is difficult to achieve an instant decision.