The Treatment of Civilians in Effective Counterinsurgency Operations

My dissertation examines the treatment of civilians in effective counterinsurgency operations. Conventional wisdom suggests that inflicting civilian casualties radicalizes civilian populations and is counterproductive to effective counterinsurgency. Drawing on statistical analysis of a new dataset of counterinsurgency campaigns and qualitative case study analysis, I investigate the effects of government-inflicted civilian casualties on military effectiveness in counterinsurgency. My findings challenge much of the conventional wisdom about the optimal use of force in counterinsurgency, and have significant implications, both for policy and for the academic study of insurgency and counterinsurgency.

Dissertation Committee: William Reno (Chair), Hendrik Spruyt, and James Mahoney


* Chapters available by request