Small Wars Journal

When Counterinsurgency Tactics Move From The Battlefield To The Home Front

When Counterinsurgency Tactics Move From The Battlefield To The Home Front by Rosa Brooks – Washington Post

The Counterrevolution Book Cover.

What does Pokémon Go have in common with CIA waterboarding, police abuses in Ferguson, Mo., NSA surveillance or President Trump’s proposed border wall? If you’re tempted to say, “Nothing,” consider reading Bernard Harcourt’s new book, “The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens.”

To Harcourt, a law professor at Columbia University, these phenomena are all part and parcel of “a new model of government inspired by the theory and practice of counterinsurgency warfare.” This model of governance, which Harcourt dubs “the counterrevolution,” relies on total information dominance, the elimination of troublesome minorities and the successful transformation of the rest of the population into supporters - or at least passive enablers - of the powerful forces pulling the strings.

As a U.S. military doctrine, counterinsurgency theory reached its apotheosis in the “U.S. Army/Marine Corps’ 2006 Counterinsurgency Field Manual,” offering an influential alternative to the prevailing paradigm of large-scale battlefield warfare that dominated much of 20th-century military thinking. When the enemy isn’t the organized military of an adversarial state, traditional assumptions about the value of mass infantry advances geared toward taking and holding terrain no longer apply. Instead, argued the counterinsurgency manual, military leaders needed to understand that “in almost every case, counterinsurgents face a populace containing an active minority supporting the government and an equally small militant faction opposing it. Success requires the government to be accepted as legitimate by most of the uncommitted middle.” Meanwhile, the insurgent minority must be discredited and ultimately destroyed. All this requires effective intelligence-gathering and, as the field manual notes, “the balanced application of both military and nonmilitary means.” In other words, counterinsurgency is a political endeavor…

Read on.

SWJED Sun, 03/18/2018 - 9:19am