The Future of Insurgency

  • December 01, 1993
  • Dr Steven Metz

Security professionals and strategists are discovering the post-cold war world is as rife with persistent, low-level violence as its predecessors. In fact, many regions are experiencing a rise in the amount of conflict in the absence of restraints previously imposed by the superpowers. Since frustration in many parts of the Third World is actually increasing, insurgency--the use of low-level, protracted violence to overthrow a political system or force some sort of fundamental change in the political and economic status quo--will be an enduring security problem. Unfortunately, most existing doctrine and strategy for dealing with insurgency are based on old forms of the phenomenon, especially rural, protracted, "people's war." But as this type of insurgency becomes obsolete, new forms will emerge. It is important to speculate on these future forms in order to assist in the evolution of counterinsurgency strategy and doctrine. Dr. Steven Metz uses a psychological method of analysis to argue that two forms of insurgency, which he calls the "spiritual" and the "commercial," will pose the greatest intellectual challenges to security professionals, military leaders, and strategists. The specific nature of such challenges will vary from region to region.