domingo, 3 de mayo de 2015

Psychology of Participation in Insurgency, by Steven Metz (análisis)

Editor's Note:  Steven Metz gives us a look into the psyche of insurgents, arguing that we fail to understand them due to our own preconceptions and mirror-imaging of western logics, ideals, and norms onto others.  What drives insurgents "is not political objectives, but unmet psychological needs," he writes.

    It's common sense: to make insurgents quit the fight or to deter other people from joining them, to understand their appeal, we must know what makes them tick.   This is easier said than done as we Americans face a mental barrier of our own creation--we insist on approaching insurgency (and counterinsurgency) as a political activity.  This entails a major dose of mirror imaging.  We are a quintessentially political people, but it is politics of a peculiar type, born of the European Enlightenment.  We assume that the purpose of a political system is to reconcile competing interests, priorities, and objectives.  From this vantage point, we see insurgency as a form of collective, goal-focused activity that comes about when nefarious people exploit the weaknesses of a political system.  It occurs when "grievances are sufficiently acute that people want to engage in violent protest."[1]  The state cannot or will not address the grievances.  And since insurgency is political, so too are its solutions: strengthen the state so it can address grievances and assert control over all of the national territory.  The improved state can then return to its mission of reconciling competing interests, priorities, and objectives.
            Much of the world--including the parts prone to insurgency--sees things different.  Most often the political system is used by an elite to solidify its hold on power and defend the status quo.  Most insurgents do not seek a better political system but rather one that empowers them or, at least, leaves them alone.  People become insurgents because the status quo does not fulfill their needs.  This is a simple observation with profound implications.  It means that the true essence of insurgency is not political objectives, but unmet psychological needs (although political objectives may serve as a proxy for psychological needs as insurgent leaders seek to legitimize and popularize their efforts).
            While insurgency unfolds within a specific cultural context which causes much of the variation in it, basic human needs are trans-cultural.  While simplistic, the familiar Maslow's hierarchy portrays this:

Insurgency arises from a combination of two conditions: significant unmet psychological needs, and the feasibility of violence (via both attitudes receptive to it and the actual tools of armed action).  To grapple with this, a psychological conceptualization of insurgency would be more powerful and useful than a political one.
            This paper is intended as a first, tentative step toward such a psychological conceptualization.  It will focus on the most basic element: motivation--the things which compel an individual to become an insurgents.  I will first offer a few comments on my methodology, then a framework for visualizing insurgent motivation.  I will follow this with a series of propositions on the motivation of insurgents and, finally, suggest some implications of this approach.

            A complete psychological conceptualization of insurgency would require rigorous and comprehensive primary source data from as many insurgencies as possible, preferably all of them.  This is, of course, unattainable.  There is some primary source data based on interviews by scholars and members of nongovernmental organizations with former insurgents and, in some cases, with people who could have become insurgents but did not.  I have relied on it as much as possible.  But even this data has a number of flaws.  First, the coverage is uneven.  There has been extensive research in Sierra Leone, Colombia, El Salvador, and Northern Ireland; some in Peru, Uganda, and Palestine; but little beyond the occasional journalistic report, insurgent propaganda release, or operationally-focused prisoner interrogation from Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, eastern India, Thailand, and the Philippines.  Today those conflicts continue, making scholarly research dangerous.  Often governments do not want to give voice to the insurgents lest it help legitimize their cause.
            Second, researchers rely captured or former insurgents.  These people are likely to portray themselves in a positive way and emphasize the extent to which they were motivated by legitimate and worthy causes, thus skewing the data.  Those willing to talk to researchers are likely to be the less committed insurgents so the data collected may not accurately portray the motives of those who elected not to talk (or who were killed in the conflict).
            Third, time may distort the memories of former insurgents leading them to overemphasize the idealism of their deeds.  As Stathis N. Kalyvas points out, "unsettled periods generate simultaneously a need for strategic non-ideological action and an ideological explication of these actions."[2]  There is a window of opportunity following a conflict when the available data is "ripe"--it is safe for former insurgents to talk frankly, but not so long that their memory has faded or become distorted.  All of this means that the available primary source data is the best we have but we must remain aware of its shortcomings.
            I must mention one other methodological note.  I have assumed that the motivational structure of insurgency is similar but not identical to other forms of violent action, particularly terrorism, but also including militia activity and, to an extent, participation in organized crime.  I thus use some information from those venues while remaining aware of the differences.  To take one major example, pure terrorist groups are smaller than insurgencies.  Participation is more risky.  Hence terrorism offers fewer opportunities for personal empowerment or enrichment than insurgency.  Both are likely to attract a cadre with similar motivation, but insurgency will also attract a body of followers, associates, and supporters with different motives.  As appropriate, I will make note of this distinction.

            Five major categories of motives inspire individuals to consider association with an insurgency, associate with it, or actually join.  Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of human needs, three of them can been seen as part of higher order motivation: fulfillment, empowerment, and enrichment.  Two are lower order: social obligation and survival.

            Clearly we must deconstruct this if it is to make sense and be useful.  The primal or lower order types of motivation include survival.  People become insurgents to survive amidst chaos and violence.  They have little commitment to the political objectives or ideology of the movement.  Any powerful gang or militia could substitute.  As with inner city street gangs in the United States, though, individuals may associate or join as a means of survival but eventually be indoctrinated into the ideology of the group, thus developing a deeper commitment.
            The notion of social obligation operates in tribal societies where the traditional power structure remains important (in contrast to tribal areas where the traditional structure has broken down, leaving young males as "free agents" susceptible to recruitment by insurgents).  David Kilcullen describes this process in Afghanistan.[3]  Local leaders see the growing power of the national government (a process spurred by the United States and other outsiders) as a threat to their power and prerogative, and to their group's cultural identity.  To defend against this, some of them form alliances with Taliban insurgents and provided fighters.  So these individuals may themselves care little about the Taliban or its objectives, but become insurgents because of the social obligations incurred within their tribe and traditional power structure.  The same process unfolded in Iraq's Anbar province until 2006 when local leaders began to see foreign fighters associated with al Qaeda as a greater threat than the United States or the central government in Baghdad.
            The higher level motivations are more important, complex, and interesting.  They overlap but, in a general sense, people associate with or join insurgencies because they will gain power, gain access to money and other resources, or to fulfill needs such as a sense of identity, belonging, and justice.  The best way to describe this is via a typology--a cast of characters if you will.  I call them "the survivors," "the lost," "the thugs," "the ambitious," "the aggrieved," and "the idealists."  These are what German philosophers call "ideal types."  Real living, breathing, sweating, and bleeding individuals will most often have attributes of several types but usually can still be characterized as one or the other.  For this reason, thinking in terms of motivational types helps unveil the richness of insurgent motivational clusters.
            The Survivors:  The survivor is an insurgent who lives in an environment where it is safer to be part of an armed group than not.  The insurgency is the only armed group available or, at least, the most receptive and powerful one.  Research with former insurgents of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, for instance, showed that 88% were abducted into the movement as children and 42% of those who joined said they did so because they feared what would happen to them if they did not.[4]  Like criminal gangs, insurgencies offer both carrots and sticks--they protect joiners and threaten to hurt non-joiners.  Abduction is the "purest" method of recruiting "survivors."  It has become pervasive in Africa.  In addition to the RUF, Renamo in Mozambique, the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, and the bevy of militias and insurgents in Eastern Congo have made extensive use of it.[5]
            In conflictive regions, particularly those which were economically weak before the outbreak of violence, insurgency and illegal activity often are the only ways to make a reasonable living.  Human Rights Watch, for instance, found that to be the case in Liberia.  Most of the insurgents which the group interviewed were "deeply affected by poverty and obsessed with the struggle of daily survival."[6]  The inability to provide for families was a source of anger and shame to young men, thus making them receptive to the only employers actively hiring: the insurgents and warlord militias.  In Sierra Leone, individuals offered payment in money or diamonds by the insurgents were six times more likely to join the RUF than local self defense militias even though doing so entailed greater risk.[7]  In the absence of material inducement, individuals were equally likely to join the insurgents or the self defense militias depending, in large part, on which group controlled the region they lived in (survivors exhibit a bandwagoning effect, tending to join the stronger group since that maximizes the near term chances of survival).[8]  In a survey of former Colombian insurgents, Marcella Ribetti found that many listed employment as a reason for joining.[9]  And, to make it even more attractive, the work was sporadically risky but not tedious or physically demanding (something one also sees with organized crime--witness "The Sopranos.")  This suggests that insurgency (and crime) hold particular appeal in cultures which do not attribute high esteem to the type of hard work associated with menial, lower level jobs (which are the type most likely to be created during a  counterinsurgency campaign).
            The Lost:  The lost is someone whose life is missing meaning, structure, or a sense of identity, and who becomes convinced that the insurgency offers these things.  The insurgency, in other words, fills a psychic void.  As with the military, involvement can simplify life for those overwhelmed by a lack of structure and with difficulty making decisions.  Life becomes simpler because the insurgent leadership makes daily decisions.  Jessica Stern noted this dynamic when studying religious based terrorist groups.  "What seems to be most appealing about militant religious groups," she wrote, [is that] whatever combination of reasons an individual may cite for joining is the way of life is simplified.  Good and evil are brought out in stark relief."[10]  This suggests that individuals who are psychologically with a low tolerance for complexity and ambiguity are prime candidates for insurgency recruitment (as for recruitment into the military).
            The need to belong and to create an identity is particularly strong (and problematic) during adolescence.  Adolescence "is characterized by feelings of opposition and resistance to authority and power structures in the family, at school, and at the state level.  In addition, it is a time when injustice and its unacceptability are strongly felt."[11]  It is also a time when young people have weak impulse control, a need for increased self esteem, and an attraction to idealistic commitments.[12]  This is the reason that adolescents form a major source of insurgent recruits, particularly for insurgencies such as Renamo, the RUF, and the Lord's Resistance Army that did not have a deep foundation of legitimacy or popular support.[13]  The insurgency becomes a surrogate family for those who have lost their real ones.[14]  Like all young people, adolescents are powerless but unlike small children, they find this grating, even intolerable.  "By belonging to a radical group," Post, Sprinzak and Denny write, "otherwise powerless individuals become powerful."[15]  In a study of the Oodura People's Congress--an ethnic militia/insurgency in Nigeria--Yuan Guichaoua found that 45% of the participants said that joining the movement improved their status and reputation.[16]  This makes adolescents perfect candidates for insurgency.  It provides structure and identity, filling psychic empty spaces.  This has both an individual and a collective dimension.  Peer pressure is vitally important for "the lost," particularly young ones.  Marc Sageman has demonstrated the crucial role of social networks rather than any individual psychological propensity in leading young men to join jihadist terror networks.[17]  This same process functions in insurgency.
            Anything which makes an individual "lost," separating him or her from their source of structure, meaning, and identity, increases their vulnerability to insurgent recruitment.  For instance, Jessica Stern notes that Hamas identifies potential suicide bombers by looking for someone who is "anxious, worried, and depressed," specifically someone who is young, immature, unemployed, and convinced that life is pain and he (or she) has lost everything of worth.[18]  Insurgents also find prisons, refugee camps, and émigré communities ripe recruiting ground.[19]  It was not coincidence that the September 11 bombers met as part of a culturally isolated Muslim community in Europe, or that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was won over to violent extremism while in a Jordanian prison.  They were lost and then found.  In a storm, any island seems safe.
            Similarly, some insurgent movements have found that exploiting religious themes helps attract recruits who are spiritually lost.  The contemporary Islamic extremists, whether affiliated with al Qaeda or not, provide the starkest illustration of this, but not the only one.  The Lord's Resistance Army did the same with a blend of Old Testament, Pentecostal Christianity and local superstitions.[20]  Many other African insurgencies such as the Mau Mau movement in Kenya during the 1950s wove traditional religious beliefs into their ideology.  The Guatemalan and Peruvian insurgencies utilized the mystical religion of their indigenous foot soldiers.  And religion was certainly a factor for insurgents in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, and for the Jewish insurgents fighting against the British mandate in Palestine.  Even the avowedly secular communist insurgents of the 20th century understood the need for spirituality and developed an ideology which played the same psychological role as religion.
            Boredom also contributes to a sense of being lost.  In rural areas and urban slums, insurgency seems to provide excitement for those whose lives are devoid of it.[21] This theme appears over and over when former insurgents explain their motives.  Ribetti, for instance, heard it from Colombians, particularly from the female insurgents she interviewed who sought to escape the tedium of a woman's life in rural areas.[22]  Louise Shelley observed that youth violence and association with terrorism is often linked to "the glamour of living dangerously and the adrenalin flow that is associated with living precariously."[23]  States not susceptible to insurgency have proxies for youth boredom and the need for excitement which drains these impulses into less destructive channels, whether video games, violent movies, sports, or fast cars.  Societies without alternatives--particularly ones where the educational system has collapsed like Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, and he tribal areas of Pakistan can see boredom be channeled into political violence.[24]
            The Thugs:  There are people in every society--usually young males--with a propensity for aggression and violence.  Insurgency attracts them since it is more prestigious and legitimate than crime, and has a better chance of gaining internal or external support.  It offers them a chance to justify imposing their will on others.  This is amplified when a nation has a long history of violence or major military demobilization which increases the number of thugs and puts many of them out of work.  In many parts of the world, whole generations have never known a time without brutality and bloodshed.  Sierra Leone is a perfect example of this.  The RUF emerged from a group of young people from the slums of Freetown known for their antisocial behavior.[25]  While this group sometimes provided violent muscle for politicians, it also served up the raw material for the RUF, leading Ibrahim Abdullah and Patrick Muana to label it the "revolt of the lumpenproletariat" (a word coined by Karl Marx to describe society's lowest strata).[26]  Thugs seldom create or lead insurgencies, but they do provide many of its foot soldiers.
            The Ambitious:  A large literature has emerged in the last decade focusing on "greed"--the desire for personal gain--as a motivation in internal war.[27]  Greed can be for material goods, power, or status.  Simply put, insurgency has appeal in a system where upward mobility is blocked for the talented and ambitious members of the lower classes--where the elite is impermeable.  Logically if a state develops other lest risky means for upward mobility, it can decapitate an insurgency.  This will never work perfectly.  Even in a society like the United States where the elite is extremely permeable and multiple avenues for upward mobility exist, there are still those who pursue illegal paths which appear easier or more exciting.  But the smaller the pool of talented, ambitious members of the non-elite available, the less the chances that an insurgency can coalesce and persist. 
            The Aggrieved:  Americans, with their political perspective on insurgency, understand grievance.  The primary fuel of the aggrieved is sensitivity to injustice.  They believe that the existing political and economic system, or specific government policies or practices (such as pervasive corruption) are unfair to some group defined by class, region, ethnicity, religion, or race.  Injustice must be punished and stopped.  The only way to do that, they believe, is through armed action since it cannot be ameliorated through peaceful means.  Such insurgents consider themselves victims and their actions defensive.
            Three things are important about this motivational type.  First, over time grievances can become transcendental.  This means that they are no longer the result of specific government policies or actions, but are based on the notion the very existence of the government (and the elite it is felt to represent) is intolerable.  The Palestinian and al Qaeda insurgencies demonstrate this.  It is doubtful that any change in policy by the Israeli government or the United States could satisfy them.  Only the total destruction of their enemies (and the existing power system) will  restore justice.  Often this type of insurgent borders on nihilism, concluding that destruction is a vital component of creation.  They are the Kali of the insurgent galaxy.  Second, the grievance can be personal or group based.  Personal grievances are particularly important in cultures with an ingrained sense of justice where group members (be they a family, tribe, or clan) have an obligation to seek revenge when one of their members are harmed.  Combined with a powerful sense of male honor, this fueled a large segment of the insurgency Iraq's tribal areas as family and tribe members felt compelled to strike at American forces when one of their own was killed, taken prisoner, or otherwise dishonored.  Finally, grievance is widely seen as the most legitimate and acceptable rationale for insurgency, so is often used by insurgents to describe their motives even when it is not the most pervasive or powerful.  But in a general sense, the more focused an individual and a culture are on justice, the greater that the aggrieved play in an insurgency.  If a population could be given the Myers-Briggs personality test,[28] those who score a hard "J" (for judgmental) would be candidates for insurgent membership (I myself fall into this category!).
            The Idealists:  Idealists are closely linked to the aggrieved.  But rather than being driven by the desire to end injustice by imposing revenge, they seek to construct a more just and equitable system.  Theirs is a New Testament world-view rather than the stern Old Testament mindset of the aggrieved.  While true idealists are rare, their ability to inspire and legitimize the insurgency gives them influence out of proportion to their number.

            Rather than attempting a full scale theory or model of insurgent motivation, I will advance the idea by sketching a framework, combining a series of propositions with a visualization and typology.  Some of these propositions border on the self-evident but nonetheless need stated to build toward the visualization.  All could be tested with further research--call them propositions in search of data.
            Individuals who associate with or join an insurgency have multiple motives, sometimes even conflicting or contradictory ones.   This means that a counterinsurgency program which addresses one or even several motives which led an insurgent to take up arms might not lead him or her to lay down their arms.  It is extraordinarily difficult (but important) to identify the decisive motive within a cluster.  Sometimes even the insurgent themselves might not be able to.  Motives lower in Maslow's hierarchy of needs are more important to an individual, but easier for a counterinsurgency program to address.
            Motive clusters determine the form and intensity of individual's involvement with an insurgency.  Clusters which incorporate or are dominated by motives higher in Maslow's hierarchy will generate more intense involvement with an insurgency, possibly in a full time or leading role.  Clusters lower in the hierarchy are more likely to generate sympathy, support, or association.  It is easier to convince insurgents with lower level motive clusters to abandon the insurgency, or to convince individuals drive by lower level motives to resist association in the first place.
            Motives may be elaborate and complex, based on linear logic, but they may also include emotions, feelings, and perceptions.  Much of the research on insurgent (or rebel) motivation focuses on linear logic and rational choice.  This may, in fact, dominant the decision making of some individuals.  But it provides an incomplete picture.  Motivation is sometimes sub- or supra-rational, particularly when grievances become transcendental.  In an insurgency with a cross-cultural dimension (e.g. when the United States is involved in a counterinsurgency campaign in a non-Western culture), the logic of motivation may be translucent or opaque: logic has a cultural component.
            The motive cluster of an individual or group changes over time. Insurgent leaders realize that idealists and the aggrieved are most committed to the cause, but are rarer than survivors, the lost, the ambitious, or even thugs.  For this reason, they attempt to shift the motive cluster of survivors, the lost, or thugs to idealism through indoctrination and other solidarity building efforts.  Conversely, an insurgent who joins based on grievance or idealism may become jaded remain involved out of fear or simply because there are no better opportunities available.  In such cases, insurgency becomes his or her livelihood.  Personal gain is more important than vengeance or idealism.
            The motive clusters which predominate in a given insurgency change over time.  Insurgencies normally begin with a small cadre of the aggrieved or idealists; they then add the ambitious and thugs and may eventually incorporate the lost or survivors.  In a handful of insurgencies, the idealistic and grievance based component increases as the insurgent leaders find ways to shift more and more followers to these motive clusters.  In most cases, the idealism of insurgency depletes and it devolves into a criminal gang or personal militia with a political veneer, particularly since late joiners to an insurgency are more likely to expect tangible benefits than the early joining, more idealistic component.
            Control of a region also affects the motive cluster which predominates in an insurgency.  When an insurgency controls a region, survivors join as part of the bandwagoning effect (since joining is safer than not joining).  That means that an insurgency which controls extensive territory will see a larger role for survival motives than one that controls little or no terror.  The latter will be dominated by grievances and idealism since those inspire greater risk acceptance.[29]
            The vulnerability of an individual to specific motivations varies.  Vulnerability arises from several factors.  One is age.  As noted, the trauma and stress of adolescence makes that age group vulnerable to an organization that promises meaning, identity, and power, and promotes (or purports to promote) idealistic objectives.  Adolescents whose normal framework for maturation--the family or local social structure--have broken down are particularly vulnerable.  A traumatic event can also make an individual vulnerable to insurgent recruitment.  This can be something within the personal experience of the potential recruit such as losing access to education or a job, or having a friend or family member killed or arrested.  It can also be indirect, collective or ascribed such as a government massacre or the killing or capture of a respected leader.
            The role of traumatic events seems to vary from insurgency to insurgency.  Interviews with former insurgents in Colombia and Sierra Leone found few instances where specific traumatic events led to joining the insurgency.  In Northern Ireland, Palestine and, based on journalistic accounts, Iraq, it was more common for individuals to mention a specific trauma which led them to become insurgents or terrorists.  Local conditions probably account for this.  In Sierra Leone and the Colombian hinterlands, there was virtually no effective government presence so joining the insurgents was a less radical step for an individual.  Joining required little motivation.  In Northern Ireland and Palestine, there was an effective government presence.  This made joining the insurgents or terrorists more risky.  It often took a major and immediate personal trauma to propel an individual through their natural risk aversion.  And as noted earlier, any separation from traditional structures of meaning and identity increase vulnerability.  This includes prisons, refugee camps, émigré populations, or even attendance at a college or university when it separates the students from their families.
            Vulnerability can also be systemic rather than purely individual.  Societies in transition are classic examples.  The insurgencies of the 20th century normally did not occur in the most traditional and backward nations, but in nations that had begun modernization.  Traditional structures for meaning and identity had broken down, but modern ones had not yet matured.[30]  Insurgents capitalized on this psychological "unoccupied terrain."  Some of today's insurgencies such as those in Afghanistan, Nepal, and much of Sub-Saharan Africa unfold in societies where traditional structures have broken down but modern ones have not taken root.  This makes them vulnerable to insurgency.
            A history of violent conflict increases systemic vulnerability.  For a variety of reasons, it is easier to start the second, third, or fourth insurgency in a state than the first.  Violence has been normalized, shattering the normal psychological aversion to it.  The normal structures of meaning and identity are weak.  And, in most cases, the war economy associated with preceding conflicts had a lingering and distorting effect.  People remember how to smuggle, how to extort funds, and so forth.  In many cases, those who benefitted economically and psychologically from the previous conflict would like to regain what they lost.
            Prevalence and role of motivation clusters varies across cultures, especially way in which violence, justice, and authority are  perceived.  In cultures where violence is normalized through a history of armed conflict or respected due to a warrior tradition, the psychological barriers to joining an insurgency are low.  That means that the insurgents can easily recruit the lost, survivors, the ambitious, and thugs.  In cultures where violence is abnormal, the psychological barriers to joining an insurgency are higher.  This means that the bulk of recruits must come from the aggrieved or idealists.  In cultures which place a high premium on justice or where national authority is little respected, the psychological barriers to joining an insurgency are again low, leading to recruitment of lost, survivors, the ambitious, and thugs.  In cultures where the national authority is generally respected and thought to rule justly, the psychological barriers to joining an insurgency are high, forcing the insurgents to recruit primarily the aggrieved and idealists.

            I am not a social psychologist so any policy or strategy implications I draw from this foray into the psychology of insurgency are tentative.  But it does seem clear to me that if my basic assumption is valid--if insurgency results from the confluence of widespread unmet psychological needs and the means of violence--then counterinsurgency must both lower the utility of violence and provide alternative structures for meeting unmet psychological needs.  The central psychological concept for understanding insurgency is more expansive and complex than  grievance (which is the political expression of unmet needs).  It is alienation.  Counterinsurgency must be counter-alienation.  This means that a comprehensive counterinsurgency program must address all of the motive clusters.  It cannot stop at articulated grievances, but must also provide non-violent structures for identity, self discipline, empowerment, prestige, and meaning.
            It is relatively easy to derail any inclination which the lost and survivors have toward insurgency.  The lost need alternative frameworks of identity and belonging.  Survivors need a way to live other than insurgency.  The thugs are harder since even if prevented from becoming insurgents, they will have a deleterious effect.  Long term imprisonment may be the only solution.  The aggrieved, particularly those for whom grievances have become transcendental, and idealists are the most difficult because their motives are the least tangible and most expansive.  Luckily, these types are fairly rare
            Effective counterinsurgency must continue long after the insurgency appears defeated.  Like all violence, insurgency has lingering psychological effects.  Researchers have noted the prevalence of post-traumatic stress syndrome in societies emerging from insurgency.[31]  At a systemic level, counterinsurgents must remember that over time, insurgency becomes both a livelihood and a life style.  If the insurgents retain the life style after the insurgency, the state remains fragile and conflictive.  El Salvador, Peru, and Guatemala all demonstrate this, with many insurgents simply becoming part of criminal gangs.  Comprehensive counterinsurgency must, as far as possible address this.  And it must remember that former insurgents do not become gang members simply because there are no other jobs available (although that is part of it).  They do so because as insurgents they felt empowered.  They were feared (and, like American gang members and mafia, confused fear with respect).  They did not have to work long hours.  So if the counterinsurgency program is to prevent insurgents from simply stripping off their ideological veneer and becoming pure criminals, it must find ways to address the empowerment issue.
            Of course this is easier said than done.  But there are solutions.  One alternative system of identity, meaning, and empowerment is the military.  Ironically, militaries and insurgencies both recruit heavily from the lost, survivors, and idealists.  While it might seem counterintuitive, one of the most effective things that a state seeking to deal the final death blow to an existing insurgency or prevent a defeated one from re-emerging can do is significantly increase the size of its military to provide an alternative psychological framework for potential recruits.  The United States should recognize this and help partner states vulnerable to insurgency sustain a military that might, to us, seem unnecessarily large.  This one step is emblematic of the larger one we must take to be effective in counterinsurgency: we must stop thinking in purely political terms and understand the psychological dynamics at play.

[1] Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, "Greed and Grievance in Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, 56, 2004, p. 564.
[2] Stathis N. Kalyvas, The Logic of Violence in Civil War, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 46.
[3] David Kilcullen, The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.
[4] Macartan Humphreys and Jeremy M. Weinstein, "Who Fights? The Determinants of Participation in Civil Wars," American Journal of Political Science, 55, 2, April 2008, p. 438
[5] Jeremy M. Weinstein, Inside Rebellion: The Politics of Insurgent Violence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 111-121; Heike Behrend, "War in Northern Uganda: The Holy Spirit Movements of Alice Lakwena, Servino Lukoya and Joseph Kony (1986-1997)," in African Guerrillas, ed. Christopher Clapham, Oxford, James Currey, 1998; and Paul Jackson, "The March of the Lord's Resistance Army: Greed or Grievance in Northern Uganda?" Small Wars and Insurgencies, 13, 3, Autumn 2002, pp. 29-57.
[6] Youth, Poverty, and Blood: The Lethal Legacy of West Africa's Regional Warriors, New York: Human Rights Watch, 2005, p. 13.
[7] Humphreys and Weinstein, "Who Fights?" pp. 448-9.
[8] Ana M. Arjona and Stathis N. Kalyvas, "Rebelling Against Rebellion: Comparing Insurgent Recruitment," paper prepared for the Mobilisation for Political Violence Workshop, Oxford University Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, March 17-18, 2009, p. 12.
[9] Marcella Ribetti, "The Unveiled Motivations of Violence in Intra-State Conflicts: The Colombian Guerrillas," Small Wars and Insurgencies, 18, 4, December 2007, p. 707.
[10] Jessica Stern, Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, New York: HarperCollins, 2003, p. 5.
[11] Rachel Brett and Irma Specht, Young Soldiers: Why They Choose to Fight, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2004, p. 3.
[12] Fusan Cuhadaroglu, "Youth and Violence," in Political Violence, Organized Crimes, Terrorism, and Youth, ed. M. Demet Ulusoy, Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2008, p. 12.
[13] Jeremy M. Weinstein, "Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment," Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49, 4, August 2005, p. 613.
[14] Krijn Peters and Paul Richards, "Why We Fight: Voices of Youth Combatants in Sierra Leone," Africa, 68, 2, 1998, p. 183.
[15] Jerrold M. Post, Ehud Sprinzak, and Laurita M. Denny, "The Terrorists in Their Own Words: Interviews with 35 Incarcerated Middle Eastern Terrorists," Terrorism and Political Violence, 15, 1, Spring 2003, p. 176
[16] Yuan Guichaoua, "Why Do Youths Join Ethnic Militias? A Survey on the Oodua People's Congress in Southwestern Nigeria," unpublished paper prepared for the Oxford University Centre for Research on Inequality, Human Security and Ethnicity, March 2006, p. 17.
[17] Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. [17] Post, Sprinzak, and Denny found the same thing ("The Terrorists in Their Own Words," p. 173
[18] Stern, Terror in the Name of God, p. 50.
[19] The American approach to counterinsurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan created immense prison populations and thus assisted insurgent recruitment by providing a concentrated body of "the lost."
[20] Lawrence E. Cline, "Spirits and the Cross: Religiously Based Violent Movements in Uganda," Small Wars and Insurgencies, 14, 2, Summer 2003, pp. 113-130
[21] Brett and Specht, Young Soldiers, p. 13.  Again, this same factor contributes to military recruitment--from the Scottish Highlands to the isolated farms of the United States in the Civil War, young men have long joined the army seeking relief from the tedium of farm life
[22] Ribetti, "The Unveiled Motivations of Violence in Intra-State Conflicts," p. 712.
[23] Louise Shelley, "Youth, Crime, and Terrorism," in Political Violence, Organized Crimes, Terrorism, and Youth, ed. M. Demet Ulusoy, p. 137.
[24] The correlation between weak or failed school systems and gang activity in the United States also demonstrates this dynamic.
[25] Weinstein, "Resources and the Information Problem in Rebel Recruitment," 615.
[26] Ibrahim Abdullah and Patrick Muana, "The Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone: A Revolt of the Lumpenproletariat," in African Guerrillas, ed. Clapham, pp. 173-4.
[27] For instance, Collier and Hoeffler, "Greed and Grievance in Civil War"; Paul Collier, "On the Economic Consequences of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, 51, 1999, pp. 168-83; Paul Collier, "Doing Well Out of War" in Greed and Grievance: Economic Agendas in Civil Wars, ed. Mats Berdal and David Malone, Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2000; and Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler, "On the Economic Causes of Civil War," Oxford Economic Papers, 50, 1998, pp. 563-73.
[28] The Myers-Briggs personality indicator is used by many corporations and government organizations.  It is simplistic--I use it here to suggest how psychology could be used to better understand insurgency rather than as a final solution.  The indicator is based on four scales: EXTROVERT - INTROVERT (drawing energy from outside or within); INTUITIVE - SENSING (drawing energy from a “sixth sense” or from the five other senses); FEELING - THINKING (basing decisions on personal information or on logic/rules); PERCEIVING - JUDGING (preferring spontaneity or organization).
[29] Arjona and Kalyvas, "Rebelling Against Rebellion," p. 12.
[30] The classic analysis of this problem is Samuel P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968.
[31] Dean Owen, "When Violence, Terror, and Death Visit Youth," in Political Violence, Organized Crimes, Terrorism, and Youth, ed. M. Demet Ulusoy, pp. 52-66.

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