Academic journal article Military Review

Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse

Academic journal article Military Review

Networks of Rebellion: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse

Article excerpt

NETWORKS OF REBELLION: Explaining Insurgent Cohesion and Collapse

Paul Staniland, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 2014, 312 pages

The fundamental question Paul Staniland asks in his book is "why some insurgent groups are unified and disciplined while others struggle with splits and feuds" Instead of treating the structure of insurgent groups as universal and static, the author provides a detailed and useful theory of how insurgent groups' organizational cohesion determines how insurgents use violence, how they fare under counterinsurgent pressure, and their long-term prospects for survival--and even victory.

Networks of Rebellion has sound organization with an opening chapter and three major parts. The first explains Staniland's theory in detail; the second consists of three case studies that serve as comparative evidence for the theory; and the final part explores implications.

Staniland's overarching theory is that insurgent cohesion "shapes how wars are fought, how wars end, and the politics that emerge after the war" Cohesion includes internal insurgent discipline and organizational control, which greatly affects the group's ability to effectively wage warfare and, ultimately, win a war. Cohesion impacts the conclusion of conflicts as groups with poor cohesion can split due to subgroup objectives, much as coalitions of nation-states can split due to differing national objectives. Staniland's theory also provides insight into why some victorious insurgent groups become successful post-war regimes and why others fail as ruling governments.

To underpin his theory, the author uses a new typology of insurgent groups, which has four categories of insurgent organizational structure: integrated, vanguard, parochial, and fragmented. …

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