Counterinsurgency and War

Gian P. Gentile

in The Oxford Handbook of War

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199562930
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Counterinsurgency and War


It is more important today to know how to think about counterinsurgency, how to understand what it means in its popular connotation, where it came from in history, and where it points for the future than simply to describe its activities. To be sure, the countering of insurgencies is not exclusive to the United States and western European powers. Countries such as Russian and Sri Lanka have tackled insurgency many times. Moreover, this article shows that insurgency and the countering of it as forms of warfare spans the ages of history. But the global jihadist insurgency that hit the world stage in full force on 9/11 and the response to it by Western powers has since dominated war and conflict and promises to continue into the future and thus warrants a focus on the Western approach to counterinsurgency. The term counterinsurgency today means many things to many people: soldiers and civilians alike. In its most simple definition counterinsurgency refers to a government that is attempting to use its powers and resources to counter an insurgent force bent on its overthrow. But the term implies much more. Counterinsurgency also has come to mean a foreign government's occupation of another land and its attempt to rebuild or build from scratch that land into a nation. Modern counterinsurgency at its heart is nation-building.

Keywords: counterinsurgency; warfare; Western approach; nation-building; war; power and resources

Article.  6938 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations

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