From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Kilcullen, adviser on counterinsurgency to General Petraeus, defines accidental guerrillas as locals fighting primarily because outsiders (often Westerners) are intruding into their physical and cultural space, but they may also be galvanized by high-tech, internationally oriented ideologues. This interaction of two kinds of nonstate opponents renders both traditional counterterrorism and counterinsurgency inadequate. Kilcullen uses Afghanistan and Iraq as primary case studies for a new kind of war that relies on an ability to provoke Western powers into protracted, exhausting, expensive interventions. Kilcullen presents two possible responses. Strategic disruption keeps existing terrorists off balance. Military assistance attacks the conditions producing accidental guerrillas. That may mean full-spectrum assistance, involving an entire society. Moving beyond a simplistic war on terror depends on rebalancing military and nonmilitary elements of power. It calls for a long view, a measured approach and a need to distinguish among various enemies. It requires limiting the role of government agencies in favor of an indirect approach emphasizing local interests and local relationships. Not least, Kilcullen says, breaking the terrorist cycle requires establishing patterns of virtue, moral authority, and credibility in the larger society. Kilcullen's compelling argument merits wide attention. (Mar.)
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"This book should be required reading for every American soldier, as well as anyone involved in the war on terror. Kilcullen's central concept of the 'accidental guerrilla' is brilliant and the policy prescriptions that flow from it important. And that's not all; the book has many more insights drawn from various battlefields." --Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek
"Kilcullen's compelling argument merits wide attention."--Publishers Weekly Starred Review
"David Kilcullen, man of action and man of ideas, has produced a rare--and indispensable--guide to understanding and winning the so-called 'war on terror' by combining ideas of military theory with those of culture and tradition among tribal peoples." --Professor Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies, American University, Washington DC.