The influence of regime type on the outbreak, conduct and resolution of low-intensity conflict has been the subject of considerable debate. Democracies and non-democracies face different levels of conflict risk and confront different types of challenges from non-state opponents. They employ different instruments and strategies in fighting their enemies and may have different track records of victory and defeat. Democratic sceptics argue that these differences favour closed regimes, which face fewer constraints on the use of coercion and have a higher tolerance for sustaining the human and material costs of war (Mack 1975; Chalk 1995; Inbar 2003; Merom 2003; Li 2005; Luttwak 2007; Peters 2007). Democratic optimists maintain that democracies are less likely to provoke violent opposition in the first place and, by emphasizing legitimacy over intimidation, are better able to secure the peace (Dernado 1985; Elbadawi and Sambanis 2000; Regan and Henderson 2002; Elkins 2005; Sambanis and Zinn 2005; Abrahms 2007). Both sides have drawn on evidence from a limited number of well-documented West European and American cases. The optimistic argument is derived largely from the best practices of the British in Malaya, and the less spectacular performance of the French in Algeria and the United States in Vietnam (Galula 1963; Thompson 1966; Kitson 1971; Aylwin-Foster 2005; Nagl 2005; Kilcullen 2009). The sceptical argument cites the British and US experiences in Kenya and the Philippines as examples in which harsher methods – like mass relocation and pseudo-gangs – helped achieve mission goals (Cline 2005; Peters 2007; but also see Elkins 2005). The bulk of modern counterinsurgency expertise, however, resides in countries with less democratic political systems. Since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, Russia has confronted two dozen insurgent movements and large-scale insurrections.1 Its responses to these challenges present a counterinsurgency model diametrically opposed to the ‘hearts and minds’ approach espoused by the British school and the most recent US Army Field Manual on Counterinsurgency.2 Despite serious setbacks in Afghanistan and the first Chechen War, Russia has one of the most successful track records of any modern counterinsurgent. The Russian experience challenges our understanding of regime type and counterinsurgency. It highlights the need to distinguish between different types of non-democracies and the threats they face, different types of coercion and when each is used, different definitions of success and the role of repression in attaining them. Yet apart from several notable studies of the Soviet-Afghan War (Grau 1997; Grau and Gress 2002; Lyakhovskiy 1995; Varennikov 2002;

Gareev 1999) and the ongoing conflict in the North Caucasus (Toft 2003; Kramer 2005; Lyall 2009, 2010b), the authoritarian model of counterinsurgency has largely eluded systematic empirical investigation. This chapter reviews our current knowledge of regime type and counterinsurgency, with an emphasis on three areas of inquiry: the emergence, conduct and outcome of low-intensity conflict in countries with different political systems. Throughout, the Russian example is presented as an illustration of how such conflicts have been brought about, fought and resolved in a non-democratic state. The chapter concludes with summary remarks and a few thoughts on future research.