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"Ten Ways to Lose at Counterinsurgency"

Boer prisoners of war guarded by British soldiers. Boer War, South Africa

"Ten Ways to Lose at Counterinsurgency"

Journal Article, Civil Wars, The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies, volume 9, issue 4, pages 402-419

December 2007

Authors: Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program, Paul Staniland, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Intrastate Conflict Program, 2008–2009

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Intrastate Conflict Program



Counterinsurgency is one of the most important topics facing policymakers and scholars. Existing studies of counterinsurgency are very valuable, but sometimes adhere too strictly to sweeping dichotomies and paradigms. This article discusses ten specific mechanisms that lead counterinsurgent governments to squander their generally overwhelming power advantages. This mechanism-based approach can improve both policy and scholarly analysis.


For more information about this publication please contact the ISP Program Coordinator at 617-496-1981.

For Academic Citation:

Greenhill, Kelly M. and Paul Staniland. "Ten Ways to Lose at Counterinsurgency." Civil Wars The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies 9, no. 4 (December 2007): 402-419.

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