Terrorism and Insurgency

Authored by: Geraint Hughes

The Routledge History of Terrorism

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415535779
eBook ISBN: 9781315719061
Adobe ISBN: 9781317514879


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As noted previously in this volume, there is no common, internationally agreed-upon definition of “terrorism,” and in texts written both by scholars and practitioners the terms “terrorism” and “insurgency” are commonly conflated with each other. 1 For armed forces in particular, “counter-terrorism” and “counter-insurgency” are often treated as the same activity. This was evident not only with the Russians in Chechnya (1994–6 and 1999–2009) and Serbia’s military and security forces during the Kosovo conflict (1998–9), but also with the British Army’s traditional approach to “small wars” (described in more detail in Chapters 12 and 13 by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon in this volume). 2 According to the United States’ official terminology, the “Global War on Terror”/“Long War” that followed the al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington, DC, on September 11, 2001, incorporates not only a global effort (quoting former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) to “dismantle, eradicate, and defeat” al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, 3 but also the conflicts pitting the US and other Western powers either directly against Islamist insurgents – in Afghanistan and Iraq (2003–11) – or in support of friendly governments fighting internal revolts – notably in Pakistan, the Philippines, Yemen, and Somalia. Critics argue that in the process, the US and its allies are conflating a number of disparate conflicts, committing troops and funds to a perpetual conflict against a multiplicity of adversaries, without defining any discernible “end-state” (a clear strategic objective that can be accomplished by both non-military and military means). 4

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