Theme Panel: Role of Legitimacy in Counterinsurgency

Role of Legitimacy in Counterinsurgency

Is counterinsurgency a contest over legitimacy? The classical literature on counterinsurgency argues effective counterinsurgency to be an exercise in achieving legitimacy. From colonial counterinsurgency experiences to US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, scholars and practitioners have regularly made the case that success of military campaigns is tied to implementation of “hearts and minds” strategies. But the practice of counterinsurgency – historically and in recent times – challenges this view. Many counterinsurgents around the world have circumvented the quest for legitimacy, rhetoric notwithstanding. This trend is strongly reflected in an observation by Stathis Kalyvas, saying “the theoretical “primacy of the political” has proved elusive in most cases; winning “hearts and minds”.. takes the back seat to the application of violence… In some cases, the “correct” application of violence proves enough to defeat the insurgency and consolidate state control.”

James D. Fearon, Stanford University (Chair)
James D. Fearon, Stanford University (Discussant)

Tactics of Repression and Dissent in Jerusalem
Evgeny Finkel, George Washington University (Author)
Yonatan Lupu, George Washington University (Non-Presenting Co-Author)
Dan Miodownik, Hebrew University (Non-Presenting Co-Author)

Legitimacy and Coercion in French Counterinsurgency during the Algerian War
Terrence G Peterson, Florida International University (Author)

Development Aid, Non-Combatants, and Civil Conflict
Austin Wright, University of Chicago (Author)

Insurgent Trajectories under Repression: Evidence from US Drone Program
Asfandyar Ali Mir, University of Chicago (Author)