An Urban Strategy for Guerrillas and Governments

by Brian Michael Jenkins

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Abstract

The author synthesizes a five-stage strategy by which urban guerrillas could take over a city, and suggests government countermeasures. The guerrilla struggle appears to follow a sequence of (1) dramatizing their cause by terrorist bombings and assassinations, (2) expanding and reinforcing their organization; (3) launching an offensive to control the streets and isolate the police, (4) provoking repression to win mass support, and (5) coordinating mass support with guerrilla warfare to wage full-scale urban warfare. The proposed government strategy capitalizes on the government's advantages in legitimacy and superior resources. It includes preventing exploitation of dissatisfaction by providing jobs, giving dissidents a voice, and coopting guerrilla demands that have wide popular support--all with the goal of out-persuading and out-mobilizing, not merely out-fighting, the guerrillas. Most important, the government must maintain the rule of law and use only minimal force.

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