Study of Internal Conflict

This page captures research and analysis by SSI professors, USAWC faculty and students, and research assistants into the causes and outcomes of internal conflicts since 1945 as part of the ongoing Study of Internal Conflict (SOIC). Research and analysis will also include topics in Unconventional and Irregular Warfare. 

Trending Topics

By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “The Taliban have control over 32 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. But one, Panjshir, is firmly in government hands, and a second is contested, with at least three districts retaken by Northern Resistance forces on August 20. We should not as a nation be rushing to raise the white flag of surrender to the Taliban and throw our Afghan allies under the bus before the Taliban even get the flagpole erected and the bus started. Under both international law and the Afghan Constitution, the lawful President of Afghanistan is now …”

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By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “Counterinsurgency does not increase the legitimacy of, or support for, central governments engaged in internal conflicts. Recent research shows quantifiable degrees of government legitimacy, national identity, and population security are necessary precursors and accurate predictors of a government’s ability to outlast a civil uprising. Because the first two predictors—government legitimacy and national identity—can be measured and do not increase during a conflict, the probability of government failure in most cases can be accurately predicted when the conflict starts.”

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By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “Nations are not built. They form almost imperceptibly from within over long spans of historical time. Since the end of World War II, no country that was not a nation has ever won a counterinsurgency or suppressed a civil war. Field Manual 3-24 Counterinsurgency is wrong because it is premised on the false assumption that support for an existing government can be increased during a civil war/insurgency as a result of the counterinsurgents’ actions. There is no historical evidence to support this assumption.”

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By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were lost before they began, not on the battlefields, where the United States won every tactical engagement, but at the strategic level of war. In each case, the U.S. Government attempted to create a Western-style democracy in countries which were decades at least away from being nations with the sociopolitical capital necessary to sustain democracy and, most importantly, accept it as a legitimate source of governance…”

Continue Reading

By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “The Taliban have control over 32 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. But one, Panjshir, is firmly in government hands, and a second is contested, with at least three districts retaken by Northern Resistance forces on August 20. We should not as a nation be rushing to raise the white flag of surrender to the Taliban and throw our Afghan allies under the bus before the Taliban even get the flagpole erected and the bus started. Under both international law and the Afghan Constitution, the lawful President of Afghanistan is now …”

Continue Reading

By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “Counterinsurgency does not increase the legitimacy of, or support for, central governments engaged in internal conflicts. Recent research shows quantifiable degrees of government legitimacy, national identity, and population security are necessary precursors and accurate predictors of a government’s ability to outlast a civil uprising. Because the first two predictors—government legitimacy and national identity—can be measured and do not increase during a conflict, the probability of government failure in most cases can be accurately predicted when the conflict starts.”

Continue Reading

By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “Nations are not built. They form almost imperceptibly from within over long spans of historical time. Since the end of World War II, no country that was not a nation has ever won a counterinsurgency or suppressed a civil war. Field Manual 3-24 Counterinsurgency is wrong because it is premised on the false assumption that support for an existing government can be increased during a civil war/insurgency as a result of the counterinsurgents’ actions. There is no historical evidence to support this assumption.”

Continue Reading

By Dr. M. Chris Mason

    “The wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were lost before they began, not on the battlefields, where the United States won every tactical engagement, but at the strategic level of war. In each case, the U.S. Government attempted to create a Western-style democracy in countries which were decades at least away from being nations with the sociopolitical capital necessary to sustain democracy and, most importantly, accept it as a legitimate source of governance…”

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Commentary

Reports & Monographs

Backgrounders

By Thomas H. Johnson and Dr. M. Chris Mason

"Afghanistan policy, like Vietnam policy before it, has taken on a life of its own, impervious to ground truth. The simple reality is that "peace talks" with the Taliban have no chance whatever of a positive outcome from the perspective of U.S. policy. Just as it did in Vietnam, the United States has been fighting ..."

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By Dr. M. Chris Mason

"Events on world battlefields over the past two years should give the U.S. Army pause to reconsider the entire Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission. The seemingly unarguable axiom that "good training makes good soldiers" has been proven to be not always true. Good training does not always make good soldiers ..."

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By Thomas H. Johnson and Dr. M. Chris Mason

"As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, truth is ridiculed, then denied, and then "accepted as having been obvious to everyone from the beginning." So let’s start with the obvious: There isn’t the slightest possibility that the course laid out by Barack Obama in his Dec. 1 speech will halt or even slow the downward spiral toward defeat in Afghanistan. None. ..."

Continue Reading

By Thomas H. Johnson and Dr. M. Chris Mason

"Afghanistan policy, like Vietnam policy before it, has taken on a life of its own, impervious to ground truth. The simple reality is that "peace talks" with the Taliban have no chance whatever of a positive outcome from the perspective of U.S. policy. Just as it did in Vietnam, the United States has been fighting ..."

Continue Reading

By Dr. M. Chris Mason

"Events on world battlefields over the past two years should give the U.S. Army pause to reconsider the entire Foreign Internal Defense (FID) mission. The seemingly unarguable axiom that "good training makes good soldiers" has been proven to be not always true. Good training does not always make good soldiers ..."

Continue Reading

By Thomas H. Johnson and Dr. M. Chris Mason

"As German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer once said, truth is ridiculed, then denied, and then "accepted as having been obvious to everyone from the beginning." So let’s start with the obvious: There isn’t the slightest possibility that the course laid out by Barack Obama in his Dec. 1 speech will halt or even slow the downward spiral toward defeat in Afghanistan. None. ..."

Continue Reading