Shadows of Things Past and Images of the Future: Lessons for the Insurgencies in Our Midst

  • November 01, 2004
  • Dr Max G Manwaring

This monograph begins with a short discussion of contemporary insurgency. It makes the argument that, in studying terror war, guerrilla war, or any other common term for insurgency war, we find these expressions mischaracterize the activities of armed groups that are attempting to gain political control of a nation-state. The fact is that these organizations are engaged in a highly complex political-psychological war. Three key harbinger cases from which the first contemporary lessons of modern insurgency should have been learned provide the basis for the argument--Peru (1962 to date), Italy (1968-82), and Argentina (1969-79). Given that these kinds of conflict--or mutations--are likely to continue to challenge U.S. and other global leadership over the next several years, it is important to understand them. In this connection, it is also important to understand that the final results of insurgency or counterinsurgency are never determined by arms alone. Rather, a successful counterinsurgency depends on a holistic process that relies on civilian and military agencies and contingents working together in an integrated fashion to achieve a mutually agreed political-strategic end game.