Defeating ISIL will not come from “winning hearts and minds” and soft power, nor will it come from a handful of precision airstrikes. It will require hard, bloody ground combat. The United States may not want to admit this, but it is the grim truth nonetheless.
Addressing root causes of insurgencies and reconciliation have historically proven to be lasting means to defeat insurgent groups. While this approach could be the best way to overcome the Islamic State in Iraq, monumental obstacles make success questionable.
Recent analysis about how to defeat the Islamic State tends to be based on no more than intuition, a general sense of history, or a small number of cases of questionable comparability. A study of 71 historical cases of counterinsurgencies should help provide empirical evidence to this important debate.
Using Charles Ragin's Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to quantitatively test the performance of 20 distinct counterinsurgency (COIN) approaches against the historical record, this article provides useful recommendations for US engagement in and support for COIN operations.
Discusses the demonstrated efficacy of the COIN principles embodied in FM 3-24, historical evicence and data collected from 30 case studies for recent resolved insurgencies. The vast majority of governments and COIN forces that adhered to multiple tenets of the field manual prevailed over the insurgencies they opposed.