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The Essence of Desperation

Counterinsurgency Doctrine as the Solution to War-Fighting Failures

Bryan Riddle

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Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Politikwissenschaft


Counterinsurgency is a doctrine premised on winning the population of a nation-state over to the government’s side. Counterinsurgency is also associated with a continuing presence of military forces for long periods and significant aid expenditures. As such, it is a curious strategy to employ in the midst of wars seen as failing and when the population has turned against the conflict.

This book examines counterinsurgency’s emergence in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan in order to understand how it is employed in the midst of these perceived war fighting failures. In doing so, it thinks of strategy as narrative that describes how actions will result in better future effects. In so doing, this book traces the ways in which the strategy making process overcomes fragmentation to produce consensus. It concludes that through the examination of how actors, analogies, and narratives are produced and deployed into strategy debates, the reasons for counterinsurgency’s emergence in crisis periods can be determined. This approach enables a better understanding of the dynamics of policy-making and how geostrategic change occurs.

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