Policy ForumSocial Psychology

Parochialism as a Central Challenge in Counterinsurgency

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Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 805-808
DOI: 10.1126/science.1222304

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America's power preponderance since the end of the Cold War has not translated into an ability to win quickly and decisively against insurgency. The U.S. military, designed to fight Soviet tanks on European battlefields, for the past decade has fought insurgents wearing flip-flops and using improvised explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Clear victories in counterinsurgency are rare, and these wars are costly (1) and long-lasting (table S1). Peace after civil wars, of which insurgencies are a subtype, is tenuous.