Thursday, January 28, 2010

"The Insurgent Archipelago"

New from Columbia University Press: The Insurgent Archipelago by John Mackinlay.

About the book, from the publisher:
As a young British officer in the Gurkha regiment, John Mackinlay served in the rainforests of North Borneo and experienced firsthand the Maoist-style insurgencies of the 1960s. Years later, as a United Nations researcher, he witnessed the chaotic deployment of international forces to Africa, the Balkans, and South Asia, and the transformation of territorial, labor-intensive uprisings into the international insurgent networks we know today.

After 9/11, Mackinlay turned his eye toward the Muslim communities of Europe and institutional efforts to prevent terrorism. In particular, he investigates military expeditions to Iraq and Afghanistan and their effect on the social cohesion of European populations that include Muslims from these regions. In a world divided between rich and poor, the surest way for the "bottom billion" to gain recognition, express outrage, or improve their circumstances is through insurgency. In this book, Mackinlay explains why leaders from the wealthiest and most powerful nations have failed to understand this phenomenon. Our current bin Laden era, Mckinlay argues, must be viewed as one stage in a series of developments swept up in the momentum of a global insurgency.

The campaigns of the 1960s are directly linked to the global movements of tomorrow, yet in the past two decades, insurgent activity has given rise to a new practice that incorporates and exploits the "propaganda of the deed." This shift challenges our vertically-structured response to terror and places a greater emphasis on mastering the virtual, cyber-based dimensions of these campaigns. Mckinlay revisits the roots of global insurgencies, describes their nature and character, reveals the power of mass communications and grievance, and recommends how individual nations can counter these threats by focusing on domestic terrorism.