Counterinsurgency warfare has been an important part of US military history since our nation’s founding, but in the past decade it has taken on an extraordinarily prominent role in foreign policy considerations. And despite this increased standing, relatively few graduate-level courses deal with this issue in a way that includes a focus on the U.S. approach to counterinsurgency.
That’s why IWP Professor S. John Tsagronis has developed a new course on statecraft and national security, Theories and Practice of U.S. Counterinsurgency, which will be taught for the first time at IWP in the Spring 2010 semester.
Most courses on counterinsurgency concentrate on the comparative aspects of historical case studies (borrowing heavily from the British and French experiences), or on recent inclinations to view counterinsurgency synonymously with “a global war on terrorism.” Few courses, however, examine counterinsurgency as a core challenge for U.S. statecraft, one that has endured throughout our history and that today is again at the forefront of U.S. national security concerns – and will likely remain both relevant and a challenge for years to come.
A mature understanding of the U.S. approach to counterinsurgency requires that one look beyond military tactics and operations (critically important though they might be) and consider issues of political development and sources of rebellion, the U.S. approach and significant limitations to “nation-building,” and the broader challenges of developing and executing an integrated U.S. strategy that combines all the tools of statecraft -military forces, intelligence, diplomacy and strategic communications, economic assistance, public administration support – all the while resisting any impulse to become an imperial power.
Tsagronis remarks that, “It is surprising still how little is understood historically about the U.S. approach to counterinsurgency, and yet it has become one of the most critical issues of the Obama Administration’s national security agenda. Hopefully, future leaders from IWP will do a better job.”