Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Counterinsurgency Principles for the Diplomat

Counterinsurgency Principles for the Diplomat


The recent resurgence of interest in insurgency and counterinsurgency has revealed a deficit in material written by and for the diplomat, the actor ostensibly responsible for the political component of a counterinsurgency campaign. Classical theorists stress that progress along the political track is essential for ultimate success. Recent commentary, in shedding new light on the characteristics of modern insurgencies, reaffirms this principle. To make political headway the diplomat-counterinsurgent needs to develop a strategic narrative, build a political strategy around the narrative, acquire expertise, become a catalyst for political change, and maximize contact with the local population. In doing so, he will make important contributions to and help accelerate success in a counterinsurgency campaign.

“War and diplomacy are different but intimately related aspects of national policy. Diplomats and warriors who recall this will therefore act as brothers in a potentially lethal common endeavor.…they will consider together when to fight and when to talk and when to press and when to stop.”

“If the government is strong enough, the Taliban cannot come here. If the government is weak, the people will not support it.”

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