In the wake of the events of 9/11, the thin line that divided peacekeeping from counterinsurgency seemed to blur at an accelerated pace. The American-led offensives in Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in different Western troop contributing nations using the two denominators for similar military activities under unified command. In the decade that followed the toppling of the Taliban regime, the US-led ‘counter-terrorist’ operation Enduring Freedom and the European-dominated International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF ) ‘peacekeeping’ mission evolved and gradually fused into a campaign that currently defines the popular perception of counterinsurgency. However, the close connection between fighting insurgencies and keeping the peace is certainly no twenty-first century phenomenon. History is littered with examples of quasi impartial (international) military forces trying to monitor peace agreements or to contain a conflict, only to end up fighting insurgent or separatist movements (Schmidl 2000). Well-known modern examples are the UN peacekeepers who fought Katangan secessionist forces in post-colonial Congo in the early 1960s and the British troops deploying in Northern Ireland in 1969 as ‘peacekeepers’ to halt sectarian violence, but soon finding themselves countering an insurgency led by the Provisional Irish Republican Army. During the 1990s, when UN(-authorized) peacekeeping in its many configurations temporarily became the dominant form of military operations for Western powers, the parallel occasionally popped up in the operational realm. The low-intensity conflict that erupted in Somalia after the 1992 international ‘humanitarian’ intervention, bore some resemblance to counterinsurgency and triggered memories of the Congo experience within the UN community. At approximately the same time, halfway around the world in the Cambodian jungle, Dutch marines operating as peacekeepers under UN-command relied on the British Army’s counterinsurgency doctrine while performing ‘duties in aid to the civil power’ – public security tasks that were never part of their original UN-peacekeeping mandate (Brocades Zaalberg 2006: 109). Also British troops within NATO’s Implementation Force (IFOR) in Bosnia in 1996 referred to counterinsurgency procedures that, according to the visiting British conflict analyst John Mackinlay, had proved effective in the past, but were officially set aside in the 1990s ‘in favour of peacekeeping’ (2009: 2). In his thought-provoking book The Insurgent Archipelago, Mackinlay argued in 2009 that the similarities between insurgencies and the new internal wars on the one hand, and peacekeeping and counterinsurgency on the other hand, had always been quite obvious. He criticizes Western

doctrine writers, UN officials and fellow conflict analysts for ignoring the parallel and creating a conceptual blur. He quite frankly admits that, as a United Nations researcher in that period, he did not at the time see himself as ‘being on a journey through the evolutionary stages of insurgency’, but Mackinlay is nevertheless harsh on his expert colleagues. Allegedly, they contributed to the terribly slow and inadequate response to the new internal wars that erupted at the Cold War’s end by missing the opportunity to husband existing knowledge on insurgency and counterinsurgency – instead introducing a wide range of vague terminology for ‘so-called peace support operations’ in response to ‘complex emergencies’. Mackinlay ascribes the lack of fundamental debate on the conceptual overlap and the applicability of counterinsurgency lessons and theory during peace operations to the ‘excommunication’ in the 1990s of the established circle of counterinsurgency experts and doctrine writers (2009: 2-3).2 Only after the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, Mackinlay added, could it any longer be denied that ‘confronting complex emergencies was simply counterinsurgency by another name’ (2009: 89). Mackinlay’s claim, which he makes in the margins of a much broader argument on so-called globalized insurgency, while not altogether untrue, is certainly inaccurate. Overall, it is correct that relatively few scholars and no doctrine writers have entered this conceptual minefield. But nevertheless, in the academic realm, the parallels between counterinsurgency and peace operations have been both embraced and denounced by conflict analysts since the early 1990s. This chapter seeks to explain why the idea of a fundamental overlap between counterinsurgency and peacekeeping was not always obvious, but nevertheless embraced, denounced and reinvented by a select group of scholars. It does so by first addressing the key difference between the broad and narrow definitions of both peacekeeping and counterinsurgency. Subsequently, it deals with the arguments of the most important enthusiasts and sceptics, the crucial distinction between tactical similarities and politico-strategic differences and the importance of conceptual and operational development in time. The chapter concludes by addressing the question whether recent experience in complex operations such as in Afghanistan and Iraq has proved the enthusiasts’ argument correct. Have complex peace operations, particularly those that include (the ability to engage in) peace enforcement, always shown fundamental similarities with counterinsurgency? If yes, what are the key elements connecting them? Or is it safer to say that the notion of peace operations has come so far adrift during the previous two decades that many Western powers – for political reasons – have for a long time been able to present missions such as ISAF as peacekeeping rather than counterinsurgency? Has peacekeeping become a euphemism or have we entered, as some US counterinsurgency theorists have argued, the era of ‘hybrid-warfare’, wherein counterinsurgency, peace operations, state-building and fighting terrorism all blend into one?3