Why Counter-Insurgency Fails

Guerrilla warfare has earned a reputation of near invincibility, driving great powers out of their former colonial empires during the twentieth century and frustrating military interventions during the twenty-first century, even where the asymmetry in regular force capability is the starkest. Why have mighty powers that proved capable of crushing the strongest of opponents failed to defeat the humblest of military rivals in some of the world’s poorest and weakest regions? How do the weak defeat the strong?

Azar Gat is the Ezer Weitzman Professor of National Security and Head of the International MA Program in Security and Diplomacy at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of nine books, including, most recently: A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War (Oxford, 2001); War in Human Civilization (Oxford, 2006), named one of the best books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement (TLS); Victorious and Vulnerable: Why Democracy Won in the 20th Century and How it is still Imperiled (Hoover, 2010); Nations: The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and Nationalism (Cambridge, 2013); The Causes of War and the Spread of Peace: But Will War Rebound? (Oxford, 2017); and War and Strategy in the Modern World: From Blitzkrieg to Unconventional Terrorism (Routledge, 2018). His books have been translated into Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Greek, Turkish, and Hebrew. He is the recipient of the EMET Prize for 2019, Israel’s premier scholarly distinction.