View Full Version : The People are Revolting’: An Anatomy of Authoritarian Counterinsurgency

01-20-2016, 10:12 PM
Hat tip to WoTR for the pointer to David Ucko's article in the Journal of Strategic Studies, Authoritarian Counterinsurgency has appeared on SWC several times, although not in one specific thread and sometimes in the Historians arena.

The JSS article is behind a pay wall:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01402390.2015.1094390

Their Abstract:
Rather than win hearts and minds, authoritarian counterinsurgency is said to rely heavily on coercion. It has a reputation for effectiveness, if also for its amorality. Still, the research into authoritarian counterinsurgency is surprisingly lacking. By distilling common features from key cases, this article concludes that this approach goes beyond the indiscriminate violence that typically captures the imagination. Like their democratic counterparts but differently, authoritarian regimes also engage in mobilisation, create narratives, and turn military advantage into political gain. The analysis explains how these tasks are undertaken and, by contradistinction, sheds light on more liberal approaches as well.

David has a short, open access article on WoTR:http://warontherocks.com/2016/01/regimes-and-revolt-authoritarian-ways-of-counterinsurgency/?

01-21-2016, 05:27 PM
Is there a good discussion (by these authors or someone else) that you would recommend, about Tsarist Russia's suppression of the 1905 revolution (or revolutions, as there was no unified movement or event)?
That might be a good example to look at, since not only is it well documented, it has been written about from many angles and Left wing revolutionaries in particular are familiar with it because of their fascination with the Russian revolution that followed. Its lessons (real or imagined) may thus play a role in the decisions of authoritarians as well as revolutionaries. Even Islamic revolutionaries get some of their intellectual material from left wing revolutionaries and their writings, and may have ideas whose origins go back to that particular episode..
Just a thought.

Bob's World
01-22-2016, 01:55 PM
A few thoughts on revolutionary insurgency and how to deal with it:

1. This type of internal (even if external parties come to play, as they typically do) is not really war, but is better thought of as "illegal democracy" - the least efficient or practical form of democracy to be sure, but oppressed/excluded populations denied effective legal means of addressing political grievances can't be choosers. That is equally true in terms of what UW practitioner they turn to for external support. Congratulations Mr. Government, you just got your 360 evaluation, and your subordinates gave you an "F" from at least one identity-based population under your governance.

2. Any COIN campaign against a revolutionary insurgency that is not centered around twin pillars of understanding and resolving grievances/reconciliation, and disruption/mitigation of violence (both legal and illegal), is a variation on temporary suppression, not cure.

3. Insurgency is simple, but COIN, a domestic operation, is hard. But its harder when you're stupid. Most governments get stupid when faced with insurgency.

01-22-2016, 07:51 PM
David Ucko's full article in JSS is now available free via:http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01402390.2015.1094390

02-05-2016, 10:08 PM
After a polite exchange on Twitter between different viewpoints this counter-argument article has been id'd: Why Democracies Make Superior Counterterrorists by Max Abrahams, in 2007, in the journal Security Studies. It available free:https://www.academia.edu/1593648/_Why_Democracies_Make_Superior_Counterterrorists_S ecurity_Studies_Vol._16_No._2_Spring_2007_

04-20-2016, 03:31 PM
In my understanding of COIN theory as it exists today, there seems to be an underlying assumption that an insurgency can be 'neutralized' by aggressively targeting hearts and minds - i.e. that there's always an opportunity for diplomatic/political engagement. Is this perception accurate? With regards to the Russian Revolution mentioned above, and with 'authoritarian' insurgencies, it seems to me there comes a radicalization tipping point after which political overtures are futile.