The Insurgent Archipelago by John Mackinlay
At the strong recommendation of Colonel Gian Gentile, I ordered The Insurgent Archipelago: From Mao to Bin Laden by Dr. John Mackinlay of King’s College, London and a hardcover copy just arrived this afternoon. Judging from the table of contents and the sources in Mackinlay’s endnotes, The Insurgent Archipelago will present a tightly written argument on the nature of COIN. For a well regarded and informative review, see David Betz of Kings of War blog, brief excerpt below:
Review: The Insurgent Archipelago
….The book is sweeping, as the subtitle ‘From Mao to Bin Laden’ suggests; yet it is also admirably succinct at 292 pages including notes and index. In design it is exceedingly clear, consisting of three parts-‘Maoism’, ‘Post-Maoism’, and ‘Responding to Post-Maoism’, which reflect the basic components of his argument. Insurgency’s classical form is the brainchild of the carnivorously ambitious strategic and political genius Mao Zedong who gave meaning to the now familiar bumper sticker that insurgency is ’80 per cent political and 20 per cent military’. Mao’s innovation was to figure out what to fill that 80 per cent with: industrial scale political subversion by which he was able to harness the latent power of an aggrieved population to the wagon of political change, to whit the victory of the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War which ended with the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949
….The problem is that what we now face in the form of ‘global insurgency’ is not Maoism but Post-Maoism-a form of insurgency which differs significantly from that which preceded it. We have, in essence, been searching for the right tool to defeat today’s most virulent insurgency in the wrong conceptual tool box. This is perhaps the most uncomfortable truth to be laid out in this book; another worrying one is that the security interests of Western Europe differ markedly from those of the United States-because the threat in the former emerges from their own undigested Muslim minorities which are alienated further by their involvement in expeditionary campaigns which, arguably at least, serve the needs of the latter well enough
Oddly, this will be the second book by a former British Gurkha officer that I’ve read in the last six months; the first being The Call of Nepal: My Life In the Himalayan Homeland of Britain’s Gurkha Soldiers by Colonel J.P. Cross, which I played a minor role in getting reissued here by Nimble Books, along with Lexington Green. After just thumbing through a few pages, Dr. Mackinlay already strikes me as a far less mystically inclined military author than does the esteemed but eccentric Colonel Cross.
I am way behind in my book reviews. Fortunately, Charles Cameron is stepping up with a new series of posts this week, which will give me some time to write reviews at least for Inside Cyber Warfare: Mapping the Cyber Underworld and Senator’s Son: An Iraq War Novel and then read Mackinlay. Ah, this designated guest blogger business is proving to be most convenient! 🙂