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  • Cited by 5
Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
June 2020
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Book description

Why do powerful intervening militaries have such difficulty managing comparatively weak local partners in counterinsurgency wars? Set within the context of costly, large-scale military interventions such as the US war in Afghanistan, this book explains the conditions by which local allies comply with (or defy) the policy demands of larger security partners. Analysing nine large-scale post-colonial counterinsurgency interventions including Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Lebanon, Cambodia, and Angola, this book utilizes thousands of primary source documents to identify and examine over 450 policy requests proposed by intervening forces to local allies. By dissecting these problematic partnerships, this book exposes a critical political dynamic in military interventions. It will appeal to academics and policymakers addressing counterinsurgency issues in foreign policy, security studies and political science.


Winner, 2021 Best International Security Book by a Non-tenured Faculty Member, American Political Science Association

Winner, 2022 Best Book prize International Security Studies Section (ISSS), International Studies Association


'Elias is thoughtful and ambitious, using archival data to draw lessons from disparate proxy counterinsurgencies, including India in Sri Lanka, and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, among others. She applies those lessons to current dilemmas in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Given the current accumulation of unresolved subnational wars, this volume deserves careful consideration by policymakers and scholars.'Eli Berman, Professor of Economics, University of California San Diego, and co-editor of Proxy Wars

'Barbara Elias analyzes the behavior of local allies in nine counterinsurgencies, delivering policy-relevant advice for major powers. The book has a splendid range of cases, impressive archival research, and a compelling theoretical argument - a model of rigorous political science.'Audrey Kurth Cronin, Professor and Director, Center for Security, Innovation, and New Technology, School of International Service, American University

'Barbara Elias wrestles with one of the primary dilemmas that has faced American counterinsurgency efforts since World War II, how to get local partners to cooperate in doing everything that has been deemed necessary for success in the campaign. She demonstrates that this has been a common problem for any intervening force in such situations, and presents some guidelines to determine the potential for local compliance. There is much to ponder in this well-researched study for both policy-makers and practitioners.'Conrad C. Crane, author of Cassandra in Oz: Counterinsurgency and Future War

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