The interest in the topics of insurgency and counterinsurgency has been far from consistent. Several times insurgency has been declared dead and buried; Steven Metz wrote in 1995 that ‘[t] he insurgents of the world are sleeping’ (Metz 1995: 1). Walter Laqueur concluded in 1998 that ‘[g]uerrilla war may not entirely disappear but, seen in historical perspective, it is on the decline’ (Laqueur 1998). The interest in counterinsurgency has suffered a similar fate. Preferably forgotten after the Vietnam War, after the recent spike in interest, it has now again been declared beyond its peak and even useless for explaining current violence. Not only has the interest in the topics come and gone, the level and content of debate has also been subject of harsh criticism. David Kilcullen, who is a contributor to this volume, has contended that ‘[c]lassical counterinsurgency . . . constitutes a dominant paradigm through which practitioners approach today’s conflicts – often via the prescriptive application of “received wisdom” derived by exegesis from the classics’ (Kilcullen 2006-7: 111). Moreover the distinguished military historian Martin van Creveld rejected the whole notion of counterinsurgency which, he argues, amounts to little on the grounds that since 99 per cent of it has been written by the losing side it is of little real value (van Creveld 2006: 268; Peters 2007; Duyvesteyn 2011). This unsteady interest in and harsh criticism of insurgency and counterinsurgency studies is in many respects surprising. Not only do we know that the majority of wars in the international system since 1815 are of an intra-state, as opposed to an inter-state, variety; importantly, these wars have often been fought in an irregular manner (Kalyvas 2007). After the end of the Cold War, the many conflicts that emerged, such as in the Balkans, East and West Africa, were all fought predominantly using indirect strategies of attack. The most notable exception has been the confrontation between Ethiopia and Eritrea between 1998 and 2000, where trench warfare occurred (repeating a pattern set in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s). Given this background, the study of insurgency and counterinsurgency in the academic fields of military and strategic studies has been a rather marginal enterprise. There is hardly a consistent body of scholarship devoted to these topics. Roughly since Clausewitzean times until the 1960s, guerrilla warfare and insurgencies were often viewed as peripheral to mainstream military conflict, which was centred around conventional inter-state war in which military assets were mobilised in pursuit of political objectives by rival states in an anarchic international system. During the period of the Cold War insurgencies were viewed by many analysts as dark, even

exotic phenomena which did not fit easily into strategic classification centred on theories of nuclear deterrence.1 At the same time the body of strategic thought forged during the Cold War era became increasingly abstract and ahistorical and imprisoned by a technological determinism. By the time the Cold War came to an end, nothing short of an ‘existential crisis’, in the words of Hew Strachan, had emerged within strategic studies. It was out of this crisis that insurgency (which now replaced the rather dated term ‘low intensity conflict’) became subsequently catapulted onto the central plane of strategic studies as many Western states found themselves involved in a range of military conflicts around the world resulting from ethnic and clan conflicts in weak or ‘failing’ states (Strachan 2008). While devising answers to these security challenges, most states involved largely overlooked the relevance of insurgency and counterinsurgency thought. In recent years, however, and more specifically since the insurgency in Iraq from 2003, academic interest in insurgency and counterinsurgency has substantially increased. These topics have become dominant themes on the security agenda, replacing peacekeeping, humanitarian operations and terrorism as key concepts. Apparently, ‘more has been written on [counterinsurgency] . . . in the last four years than in the last four decades’ (Kilcullen 2006-7: 111). In these last few years, a growing body of strategic theorists has recognised that insurgencies are an inextricable part of mainstream strategic studies. In 1999 Colin Gray observed in a major textbook that ‘small wars and other savage violence’ are ‘part of the same empirical and intellectual universe which includes Western strategic experience’ (Gray 1999: 293; Strachan 2008).2 Since the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq started to provide unforeseen challenges, the discussion about insurgency and counterinsurgency re-emerged with force. Not only for its historical notoriety but also because of its academic significance and necessity, this fickle attention for the topics seems unjust. The aim of this volume is to demonstrate the rich thinking that is available in the area of insurgency and counterinsurgency studies and act as a further guide for study and research.