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What Really Happened in Northern Ireland's Counterinsurgency: Revision and Revelation

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The current conflicts facing the United States and its allies around the world have brought the discussion of counterinsurgency to the forefront of security studies and international politics. Dr. Thomas Henriksens monograph on Northern Ireland wades into the discussion as a good historical case study that can provide insight into our current situation. He provides an excellent, short, historical background to frame his analysis. Understanding the historical antecedents of an insurgency is a critical element in any case study because insurgencies are local, not global events. International issues may influence what occurs in an insurgency, but locals rise up in rebellion for their personal grievances or desires. Readers should view the case study through the prism of a whole of government approach to dealing with insurgency. The ultimate goal of this whole of government approach is to wean the population away from supporting the insurgents. Is Northern Ireland a viable or valid model for todays world It is, but the reader must be careful in drawing quick conclusions. Some underlying issues need to be addressed while using this case study, and the key one is the role of the United Kingdoms government. In other words, the United Kingdom is a wealthy, capable, modern, liberal democracy with a well-developed state system and civil society. In todays conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the local states do not approach the capacity and capabilities of the United Kingdom. Is an outside power capable of playing the role of arbiter that the central government was able to project during the 30-year Troubles in Northern Ireland How does an outside power provide the security necessary for political and economic reforms Can a weaker state support these necessary reforms The answers to these questions will be borne out in the coming years.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History
  • Unconventional Warfare

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