Foreign Policy Blogs

The RAND Study on Insurgency in the Muslim World

Earlier this year, the RAND Corporation issued a study of the threat of “Islamist” insurgencies: “War by other Means – Building Complete and Balanced Capabilities for Counterinsurgency.” The press release for the new study is also a summary of the main idea: “U.S. Lacks the Capability to Counter Insurgency in the Muslim World.” The language in the report is at times categorical, although that is hardly surprising given the sub-topic of the analysis: countering religious hatred and extreme violence. The authors contend that the U.S. will be “battling global-local Islamist insurgency for a long time with, at best, mixed results – if we do not reshape our strategy and acquire a complete and balanced set of capabilities.” (p.348). This requires not focusing on large-scale U.S. military action and not attempting to “wage and win a global religious conflict.” In contrast, the authors seem to be suggesting ‘competition’ for the Muslim populations of countries with inept governments. The crux of the problem (behind terrorism apparently) is “the sentiment and direction of Muslim populations.” (p.350) However, that still sounds like a global religious conflict in disguise. Other areas of the RAND report are more substantive and less ideological – particularly addressing the capabilities, which are required in order to counter global-local insurgency. For example, according to the press release, “the chances of defusing an insurgency are better than 90 percent when caught early.” This contrasts to success rates when the insurgency has had the time and chance to become an uprising.



Karin Esposito

Karin Esposito is blogging on religion and politics from her base in Central Asia. Currently, she is the Project Manager for the Tajikistan Dialogue Project in Dushanbe. The Project is run through the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies with the support of PDIV of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the project is to establish practical mechanisms for co-existence and peaceful conflict resolution between Islamic and secular representatives in Tajikistan. After receiving a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 2007, she worked in Tajikistan for the Bureau of Human Rights and later as a Visting Professor of Politics and Law at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP). Ms. Esposito also holds a Master's in Contemporary Iranian Politics (2007) from the School of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran and a Master's in International Relations (2003) from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (GIIDS) in Switzerland.

Areas of Focus:
Islam; Christianity; Secularism;