Latest in counterinsurgency

Foreign Policy Essay

Wars of None: AI, Big Data, and the Future of Insurgency

Editor’s Note: The rapid pace of technological innovation is changing the nature of warfare, and futurists are busy spinning out scenarios of a U.S.-China clash in twenty years involving nano-technology and fully autonomous weapons systems. Yet how will new technologies shape insurgency and counterinsurgency, which conjures up images of guerrillas hiding in Vietnam's jungles? My Brookings colleague Chris Meserole looks at two of the latest books on the subject and assesses how the balance between rebels and government may tilt.



India’s Counterinsurgency Campaigns Are Missing the Warning Signs

Editor’s Note: Insurgencies have plagued India throughout its modern history, and several remain active today. Until recently, it seemed that the Indian government was making progress, however fitfully, in reducing the scope and scale of the violence. Sarah Watson of CSIS argues that today Modi's government is dropping the ball. After significant gains, India's counterinsurgency campaigns are stalling, and the government appears unable to either conciliate or coerce effectively.


Foreign Policy Essay

Can the COINdinistas Save Iraq from Trump?

Editor’s Note: When the United States invaded and occupied Iraq in 2003, it found itself woefully unprepared for the insurgency that followed. It took years—and many lives lost—for the U.S. military to relearn how to fight insurgents, but the results were stunning. By the end of the decade, al-Qaeda in Iraq and other violent groups were on the run, and it looked like Iraq was on the path to stability. Zach Abels at the National Interest, however, warns that much of this valuable knowledge is being lost.


Siege Warfare in Syria

On June 30, 2016, the United Nations announced that after having accessed two blockaded towns near Damascus, it had finally delivered aid to all areas under siege in Syria. For the starving populations of Zamalka and Irbin, a single aid convoy was little consolation. Since the fall of 2012, as many as one million Syrians have been victims of one of counter-insurgency’s most brutal tactics: siege warfare.

Foreign Policy Essay

Cruel to be Kind: Authoritarian Counterinsurgency and the Winning of Hearts and Minds

Editor's Note: Dictators fight insurgents wrong. Rather than redress grievances and win over the locals, they repress and coopt, tolerating corruption and abuses. David Ucko of National Defense University explores why and how dictators often defeat insurgents despite ignoring the lessons of the US and other democracies.


Foreign Policy Essay

Conflating Terrorism and Insurgency

Editor's Note: What if most terrorism isn’t really terrorism? In past decades, much of what we call terrorism today would have been seen as insurgent violence, revolutionary war, or civil war: a group like the Islamic State, which uses tanks as well as suicide bombing, is a prime example of an organization that is wrongly classified as a terrorist group. John Mueller of Ohio State University and Mark Stewart of the University of Newcastle in Australia unpack this definitional confusion and argue that it leads to a gross misunderstanding of the true threat we face.

Foreign Policy Essay

The Six Faces of the Islamic State

In the rhetoric of American leaders, the Islamic State is a terrorist group. The terrorism label, while accurate, is also misleading, obscuring more than it enlightens. One of the top scholars of terrorism, Audrey Kurth Cronin, sharply criticizes the label “terrorist” to describe the Islamic State, arguing that doing so confuses us as to the true nature of the group and how best to fight it.

Foreign Policy Essay

Why Arab States are Bad at Counterinsurgency

Editor’s Note: The United States and its allies outsource most of their counterterrorism. Allies like Egypt and Jordan and frenemies like Pakistan do much of the heavy lifting, using their armies and intelligence services to fight jihadist terrorist groups and insurgencies. Florence Gaub, a senior analyst at the EU Institute for Security Studies, argues that Arab states are dangerously bad at the political side of counterinsurgency and their military campaigns often fail or even make things worse as a result.



Lawfare: So Are We Waging It?

Parwan, Friday, November 19, 2010 -- The week’s posts up until now—written on a Blackberry while we moved or found small spaces of time between engagements—position me finally to move from the definitional and philosophical matters I pondered yesterday in Khost to Jack’s September question: Do I consider counterinsurgency (COIN) in Afghanistan to be “lawfare.” The BLUF (“bottom line up front”), an expression used by each of the U.S.

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