Belfer Center Home > Experts > Alexander B. Downes > Draining the Sea by Filling the Graves: Investigating the Effectiveness of Indiscriminate Violence as a Counterinsurgency Strategy

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"Draining the Sea by Filling the Graves: Investigating the Effectiveness of Indiscriminate Violence as a Counterinsurgency Strategy"

Monument in Lidice, Czech Republic: Lidice village was completely destroyed on June 10, 1942 by the Nazis after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Czech resistance fighters who had parachuted in from England.
AP Photo

"Draining the Sea by Filling the Graves: Investigating the Effectiveness of Indiscriminate Violence as a Counterinsurgency Strategy"

Journal Article, Civil Wars, The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies, volume 9, issue 4, pages 420-444

December 2007

Author: Alexander B. Downes, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program, 2007–2008

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security

 

"It is commonly believed in the literature on insurgency and counterinsurgency that to be effective in undermining civilian support for guerrillas, violence against noncombatants must be selective or risk alienating the population. Yet cases exist where governments have defeated insurgencies by wielding indiscriminate violence against noncombatants. This paper explores the conditions under which such violence can be effective through a case study of British counterinsurgency strategy in the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902)."

 

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

For Academic Citation:

Downes, Alexander B. "Draining the Sea by Filling the Graves: Investigating the Effectiveness of Indiscriminate Violence as a Counterinsurgency Strategy." Civil Wars The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies 9, no. 4 (December 2007): 420-444.

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