Talk:Insurgency/Archive 1

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Archive 1 Archive 2

Proposed move of page to insurgency

Hi all. I am, ever so slowly, trying to organize the web of terms related to rebellion, insurgent, freedom fighter, etc. First of all, I am trying to collapse terms that are part of participant-event pairs into their events. I've already moved merged rebel into rebellion and am planning to move insurgent into insurgency unless I hear an objection in the next couple days. See my talk page for a bit of my whining on the subject and let me know if there are issues you think I should be aware of. Cheers, BanyanTree 05:04, 16 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I found your discussion of "insurgent" very useful. This is a term that is used increasingly frequently by the media and the dictionary definition does not recognize the political nature of the use of the word. Please keep the listing separate from "insurgency." Thank you.

Thanks for your comments. If the page is merged into insurgency, most of the content would be moved as well (and reworded) and insurgent would become a redirect page to insurgency. The political nature of the entry would therefore remain. BanyanTree 16:29, 24 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I see you've merged the participant/event pairs. I think this is a sensible move. Perhaps they should all be merged in the same direction? So the real page is the action and the actor page is the redirect, or vica versa.


From Requested Moves

I am, ever so slowly, attempting to organize and standardize the web of terms relating to rebel, freedom fighter, guerrilla, etc. See my talk page for my full rant on the subject. Where there is little content, I have begun by collapsing event-participant pairs into the event page, which seems like the more logical direction. I've already merged rebel into rebellion, so would like to move the content of Insurgent to Insurgency, and obviously then change the text to fit. BanyanTree 19:05, 8 Jan 2005 (UTC)

  • Support. You might also want to flag this up at Wikipedia:Duplicate articles. -Sean Curtin 05:20, Jan 11, 2005 (UTC)
  • Support, also list at Wikipedia:Duplicate articles. Neutralitytalk 21:35, Jan 12, 2005 (UTC)
  • Disagree. Okay, I know it's too late, but I think we're moving in the wrong direction. Are we suggesting "guerrillary" and "freedom fightery"? I think people would more likely look for "insurgent". "Insurgency" less natural, and sounds stilted. A D Monroe III 13:47, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)
  • Disagree. Not around when the vote was cast orginally. I agree with A D Monroe III basic idea. Should be about an insurgent, much like the militant article is done. JDR 18:00, 15 August 2005 (UTC)
  • Disagree. I know I am extremly late, but I agree with A D Monrow III and JDR because an insurgent is, if you can say it this way, a occupation or a job. Insurgency is the activity which an insurgent takes part in or any person takes part in to become an insurgent. So, I think it is wrong to merge the two articles unless you form a insurgent section in insurgency.

Zywxn 12:28, 25 October 2007 (UTC)Zywxn 20:24, 25 October 2007 (GMT+08:00)

This isn't just about Iraq

Most of the recent additions to this article seems to be about Iraq. There may be insurgents there, but that's hardly the only definition of insurgents. The debate on what's going on there shouldn't spill over to this article. We can mention Iraq, and even mention that use of the term there is disputed, but that's it. If no one else has a better idea, I'm going to chop most of this out in a couple days. --A D Monroe III 23:09, 25 Jun 2005 (UTC)


I removed "such as a constituted government or a military occupation by an invading force" from the definition because that phrase represents a drift in the definition that appears to have been added to fit the current usage of the term as applied to Iraq, rather than long-standing dictionary definition of the term. No dictionary definition of "insurgent" or "insurgency" that I have seen includes "a military occupation" or "an invading force" in its examples of an "established civil authority". - DBooth 17:25, 7 July 2006 (UTC)

i dont agree with the explaination for insurgency. Thinking of iraq, i guess it is an insurgency, as opposed to a civil war. i dont agree that insurgents dont have access to the laws. They very well do. i dont think the right to vote should define whether or not someone is an insurgent. they may very well have the rights, but dont "perceive it", or dont perceive it to be valid or legitimate. this is what makes an insurgent.

i dont agree with the other part to political discourse section, where the writer says insurgency implies illegitimacy. that is a judgement biased by the observer. it is best to at the very least think of all sides as having some "legitimate" concern, or else neither side would be as committed to changing the status quo. so i would probably prefer that the article not use the word legitimate. paul t.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists two definitions of the term "insurgent"; the first basically is in revolt against civil authority, the second involves acting contrary to the rules of ones own political party. Both definitions, at the very least, imply that one is rebelling against their own government or party. The violence being perpetrated in Iraq is not an insurgency under either of those definitions as it is by and large being instigated and perpetrated by foreigners from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other terrorist sponsoring countries in that part of the world. The mass media press refers to the terrorists as insurgents since to call them by their rightful name would be to admit that the U.S. and its allies ARE fighting the war on terrorism. 18:33, 5 October 2005 (UTC)Jerry P

I would like to respond to this gross oversimplification, forgive me if this is the wrong spot to say this. Public opinion polls report that a majority of Iraqis support attacks on coalition forces while 97% object to foreign fighters/al queda.(bbc poll in Iraq august 2007) I'm sure that foreign fighters are a significant feature of the Iraq war but this doesn't change the fact that opposition is, by the definitions of this article and the one you provided revolting "against civil authority."[1] Smadge (talk) 09:38, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Some of the statements on the insurgency page reflect overcarefulness in language. Let's take this instance: "The term “insurgency”, beginning in 2003, has been used by various politicians (at times, in the western world) and mainstream media (at times, english speaking outlets)..." I have a small problem with "various politicians (at times, in the western world)," which wiggles out of any temporal or geographical specificity whatsoever, but I have a major problem with "(at times, english speaking outlets)." Of course an english word such as insurgency has been used at times by english speaking outlets: I think we can take the bold step of asserting that the word is used exclusively by english speaking outlets, as using it means that the utterance is in english. I fully support the neutrality that makes Wikipedia what it is, but this language goes beyond neutrality, and even beyond meaning.Zdylan 04:17, 23 November 2005 (UTC) 08:39, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Pejorative "common usage" and Iraq

How is the term "insurgent" a pejorative? Where is the evidence of this and how is it so important to the meaning of the word that it be included in the introduction, or at all? It is not a derogatory form of "rebel" or "upriser" or other meaning; any supposedly pejorative use is in fact the dominant authority disparaging anyone who is opposing their authority, regardless of the particular word used. Insurgent is the word correctly used, and if the speaker using it opposes the insurgent they oppose the insurgent because they are rebelling against the controlling authority, the very meaning of the word. They are not mutating the word, or using a different word that in itself contains insult.

Separately, the current usage of the term, for whatever war or rebelling is ongoing at some particular time, does not belong in the introduction of the article. If examples are appropriate to establish the meaning, then they ought to be placed in the body of the article, and those examples ought not be confined to current events. What is there now does not add to the meaning of the subject of the article. - Centrx 02:24, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

In answer to the above question, "How is the term 'insurgent' a pejorative?", the use of this term in the context of current events in Iraq is a classic example of framing. The same people could be accurately called "resistance fighters", because they are indeed resisting the occupying forces and their collaborators. Both "resistance" and "insurgency" imply certain value judgements about the legitimacy of the dominant force and its opposition. "Resistance" implies that the occupying forces are not legitimate; "insurgency" implies (a) that the current civil authority is established and legitimate; and (b) that the occupying forces are therefore a legitimate part of that authority.
Note that a key component in the definition of "insurgents" is that they are fighting against an established civil authority. (See any dictionary.) Does the current civil authority in Iraq qualify as "established"? Clearly it is not very well established, if it can be considered established at all, since it thus far is virtually non-functional.
The US government clearly chose the word "insurgent" to make the newly installed Iraqi government seem more established and legitimate and to discredit the opposition. The mainstream media have echoed this usage, for whatever reasons. (Mainstream media tends to echo the terms used by government officials, but the media's adoption of the term could also be a reflection of perspective.) - DBooth 16:51, 7 July 2006 (UTC)
It is still an uprising, a revolt, against a strong authority largely in control. The US government certainly chose not to refer to it as a "resistance", and it does not currently have the open warfare/split country or civil war connotation of a rebellion. Using the OED as reference, with its quotations, insurgency or insurgents seems to be the reasonable word to use, whereas resistance would be POV in the other direction than asserted here and rebellion would not be accurate. —Centrxtalk • 00:30, 18 July 2006 (UTC)
To call it an "uprising, a revolt" is slightly misleading. In some sense, virtually any conflict could be characterized as an "uprising, a revolt", Was the French Resistance an "uprising, a revolt"? The point is that a resistance is in response to a *change* in the status quo of authority, whereas an insurgency is generally in response to the *continuation* of the status quo of authority -- thus the word "*established*" in the definition. In occupied France, it was resistance to the occupation of German forces and their newly installed "authority". In occupied Iraq, it is resistance to the occupation of US-led forces and their newly installed "authority". In both cases (French Resistance and Iraq), the trigger for the insurgency/resistance was not longstanding grievance against the established authority (i.e., the existing French government or Saddam's regime), but a *change* in the authority that was effected by the invasion and occupation by foreign forces. One can stretch the meaning of these terms to call either situation a "resistance" or an "insurgency", but to label one a "resistence" and the other an "insurgency" is clearly a reflection of one's political bias. -- DBooth 22:13, 11 August 2006 (UTC)
The French Resistance was covert. There was not widespread, daily fighting on the streets as there is currently in Iraq. The French Resistance did not rise up, they quietly helped the Allies. Sabotage, espionage, and holding out in rural areas, is not the same as a revolt, and the violence in Iraq far exceeds that. —Centrxtalk • 12:08, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
That is a difference of degree or brazenness, not kind. The Iraqi resistance certainly is covert also (concealing their actions and identities, not wearing uniforms). Yes, the Iraqi resistence is far more brazen than the French resistance, but the Germans and Vichy government were also in much tighter control than the US-led occupiers and the newly installed Iraqi government are. In fact, the newly installed Iraqi government has so *little* control of the situation that it really is quite a stretch to consider it an "established civil or political authority". To describe it as such is more a matter of wishful thinking than a reflection of reality. In any case, the degree of brazenness is not what distinguishes an insurgency from a resistance anyway. The key difference is the trigger: whether it is in opposition to an established, status quo authority (insurgency) or to a new authority installed by foreign invaders (resistance). The opposition in Iraq was clearly triggered by the US-led invasion and occupation -- not by dissatisfaction with an established, status quo authority. -- DBooth 04:56, 15 August 2006 (UTC)
Covertness is an essential part of the meaning of "resistance", which in this context is derived directly from the French Resistance. OED: "Organized covert opposition to an occupying or ruling power; spec. (usu. with def. article and capital initial) in the war of 1939-45, the underground movement formed in France in June 1940 with the object of resisting the authority of the German occupying forces and the Vichy government; any organization of this type with similar ends." At also, you will find "An underground organization...", that is underground: working covertly. There is of course an element of covert operations in the conflict in Iraq, but there is also a covert element in any conventional war, which doesn't mean that D-Day was a covert operation. —Centrxtalk • 17:06, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Yes, covertness is an essential part of a resistance, but that is not the key differentiator between a resistance and an insurgency. In both cases, those fighting against the "occupying or ruling power" are/were doing so covertly, as an "underground organization". The French resistance may well have been *more* covert than the Iraqi resistance, but that merely illustrates that the Germans held France in far tighter control than Iraq is held. Covertness does not differentiate the nature of a resistance from an insurgency. (Incidentally, I have been unable to easily find figures for how many Germans occupied France, versus how many US-led forces occupy Iraq, but I suspect the ratios of occupiers to inhabitants was far higher in occupied France.)
An insurgency is not merely a more overt form of a resistance. In virtually *any* asymetric conflict, the substantially weaker party resorts to covertness as a practical tactic in order to survive -- regardless of the nature of that conflict. What differentiates the nature of a resistance from an insurgency is *who* the resisters/insurgents are fighting against. Are they fighting against foreign invaders/occupiers? That's a resistance. Are they fighting against an established government? That's an insurgency. In the case of Iraq, there is no doubt whatsoever that the cause of the Iraqi resistance was the US-led invasion and occupation -- *not* dissatisfaction with the existing government. This is why use of the term "insurgency" in the context of Iraq is historically anomalous. -- DBooth 07:17, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

We're missing the point. Use of the term "insurgent" is pejorative if people have made it clear that they don't like the term. It doesn't matter if you or I think those Iraqis are insurgents or not, it only matters if everyone outside of Wikipedia agrees they are insurgents. If someone can cite evidence that some choose to use the term even when others insist the term is degrading, then the term is pejorative. If no one can supply that evidence, then the term isn't pejorative. It's a waste of time to hold court here on what, in some imaginary better world, everyone should agree on what they should be called. --A D Monroe III 23:58, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

The issue is not so much whether "insurgent" is a pejorative use in regard to Iraq, but whether it warrants mention as a peculiar use in this article. Two paragraphs talking about Iraq "UN Security Council Resolution 999" is not warranted in this article, especially if the use of "insurgent" is the normal use that is well-defined in the rest of the article. Its presence here is a feature of a systematic bias on Wikipedia favoring recent events that wiki editors know or are passionate about. What we need as a source is someone talking about insurgency throughout history. Iraq, then, would likely be included as one example of such an insurgency, with descriptions that help the reader to understand what an insurgency is, through history. But that only makes sense if Iraq is one of several, historical, examples. Alone, it is excessive, irrelevant, and somewhat original research. —Centrxtalk • 01:01, 19 August 2006 (UTC)
Well said, Centrx! It would be great to have such historical examples to illustrate the historically accepted use of the term. -- DBooth 07:17, 22 August 2006 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by BorisFromStockdale (talkcontribs) 08:40, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

This article is wrong

Something about this article makes me really uncomfortable. The simple fact is, nobody ever used the word 'insurgent' prior to 2003. It's just one of those phrases the US government decided to start using (like 'friendly fire', 'islamo-fascist', 'homeland security') for political reasons, and then the media and everyone else followed. To have an article like this, that makes it seem like an insurgency is a long-established and clearly defined concept, just isn't right. I mean, what is an insurgency anyway? Isn't this just a ridiculously sweeping term to refer to something actually much more complex? Abc30 11:52, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

I think we already have enough articles to explain the general idea and the subjects involved. 'Insurgency' itself should be nothing more than a wiktionary article. Abc30 16:34, 7 September 2006 (UTC)

You are incorrect. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word has been in rather normal use, with this very meaning, since the 1800s, with the first known use of "insurgent" in 1765. A couple of examples: 1801, "In regard to the insurgents in Malabar, the war against them cannot be carried on at all without assistance." 1812, "[Why] it was, that the vast strength of Britain did not beat down the colonial insurgents, not in one campaign, but in three." 1822, "The consequence..would be riot, insurgency, and rapine." It is nothing whatsoever like any of the other examples you stated. It may be that it does not warrant a separate article and could be merged into a single article on rebellion and the like but it does have a well-defined meaning that is distinct from rebellion, insurrection, etc. —Centrxtalk • 03:01, 8 September 2006 (UTC)
Actually, Abc30 is mostly correct, in that: (a) usage of the term was extremely rare prior to 2003, when the US government began using it; and (b) the wikipedia articles on insurgency and Iraqi insurgency do not adequately warn that the current application of the term to Iraq represents a politically biased deviation from the term's historically accepted meaning. -- DBooth 15:04, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I'm just a passerby, but can we here on the talk page just admit to ourselves that the U.S. press secretary, Communications Director or SOMEBODY in the speech-writing departments decided to use Insurgent/insurgency because it inplicitly ligitimizes the U.S. occupation of Iraq, whereas another term like "rebellion" or "resistance" would implicitly legitimize said fighters. No offense, but the "French Resistance" was up against the stable (admittedly puppet) Vichy Government during WWII. It's not like the Press Secretary hasn't passed off alot of other "redefinitions" or the State of the Union hasn't made "National Security" a blanket excuse for "martial Law". Can someone please clean that thought up and add it to the "recent uses" section. I'm not a member and I don't trust myself to be non-POV.

Yes, the article does still need work to be more non-POV. -- DBooth 10:33, 31 January 2007 (UTC)
DBooth, Abc30 is not "mostly correct". For a start there is proof in the Oxford dictionary that the word "insurgent" has existed for a long time, it only seems like a new word to us because the west hasn't occupied (and I do mean a proper occupation) a country since WW2, and I very much doubt any of you were around during then. Ryan4314 15:43, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

I added a POV tag

as of this writing [2], this article refers to insurgents as muslim and defines an insurgency as muslims against non-muslims. --Philo 21:03, 24 October 2006 (UTC)

The article claims that insurgency is defined by "Muslim Terrorists" against an established authority. First off, "Muslim Terrorists" is a term that is highly debated. Secondly, the definition of the word "insurgency" seems to more accurately define the word "Jihad" in its relationship to Muslims. In fact Muslims are not the only people capable of an insurgency. Vietnam experienced insurgency with cambodian Khmer Rouge guerillas. They were not Muslims. There are countless examples of insurgency throughout history. Only in our mordern era has the term been applied to Islam. This article needs to be drastically rewritten in the objective fashion that makes Wikipedia such a strong source of information.

The term insurgency can found in a lot more incidents than you think. Lincoln referred to the Civil War as an insurgency many times. In the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 the instigators are referred to as insurgents. In the Philippine Insurrection of 1899 -1914 they were always referred to in the media as insurgents. It's an old and well used term.


Article says: Persons engaging in insurgency are called insurrectionists

Shouldn't that be Persons engaging in insurgency are called insurgents? --Apoc2400 10:21, 18 November 2006 (UTC)

insurgents was recently changed to insurrectionists, so I changed it back.

I would really like to see Insurrection as well as Insurrectionists have their own distinct page, Insurrection has historically been something unique and the people that practice it are distinct from insurgents. Perhaps someone with a better historical could put together something that make reference to insurrection being a generalized revolt against society and the way it is organized rather than insurgency which in modern usage is a group fighting against a particular established organization. You could take Insurrectionary Anarchism as a model for what i mean as that is a long running current of thought and if you were to say "Insurgent Anarchism" it would not have anywhere near the same definition. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:20, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

Militant dissidents (insurgents)

I move nelow the chapter drom dissident article, as I could not find any source to support such a meaning:

Militant dissidents (insurgents)

Militant dissidents is the term usually sought by armed paramilitary groups whose aim is usually to overthrow a government or regime, or otherwise impose changes on the established order. Since militant dissidents are almost always militarily disadvantaged compared to the ruling power, such groups may resort to asymmetric warfare, guerrilla warfare, or terrorism to further their cause. Such groups are often denounced as terrorists by the ruling power regardless, though they often consider themselves freedom fighters or resistance movements.

dima 02:40, 3 May 2007 (UTC)

recognized authority

"the government established by an invading force counts as "collaborators", not "established authority"." this statement seems to be partisan, as a goverment established by an invader is a legal goverment by the standards of the invader. only the insurgents would consider it 'collaborators'. indeed, from the perspective of the goverment involved, those who help insurgents are also termed collaborators. so the statement fails to be neutral in tone. dropping it does nothing to alter the definition, which is still 'insurgents are an armed uprising against civil authority' what each side calls the other is not important to that definition. 18:07, 9 May 2007 (UTC)


An insurgency differs from a resistance both in its political overtones and in the nature of the conflict: an insurgency connotes an internal struggle against a standing, established government, whereas a resistance connotates a struggle against invading or occupying foreign forces and their collaborators.

The Iraq war has made this definition very redundant considering that the insurgents in Iraq claim to be fighting an occupying force. Tourskin 03:25, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Note the section "Contemporary Political Discourse" to see the blatant misuse of these words by the media. The uprising in Iraq fits the definition of a resistance movement, though it also shows elements of a sectarian civil war. It does not fit the definition of an insurgency, even applying the logic that the installed government is legitimate, since the uprising predates that government anyway. In a more comical comparison, ask yourself how many times the media could incorrectly refer to duck as a turkey, before it actually becomes a turkey.--Bodybagger 08:03, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

POV, or just wrong

"Insurgents use a variety of asymmetrical warfare tactics, usually because of the insurgents force's capabilities are unequal to the authority's capabilities." isn't that sort of a definition of guerilla warfare?

and if "an insurgency connotes an internal struggle against a standing, established government," this is then a civil war.

"In addition, insurgents establish ties with other outlaws and double agents to further their goals." outlaw!? I mean really, should we make a posy? and what the hell do "double agents" have to do with "outlaws"? Cliff 03:31, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Specific example leads to confusion as to what "insurgency" means

I believe this has gotten too specific and as a result gives the clear impression that "insurgents" or "insurgency" are as defined by the US government in describing types of people and types of behavior in Iraq. Whether or not the US definition is correct is very much open to debate and therefore using examples from Iraq legitimizes what might very well be a mistaken use of the term(s).

I think this section does very well until two headings are added: "Tactics and Strategies" and "Contemporary political discourse." My objection has been made by others also, dating back several years, yet the misleading information persists.

When I looked up "insurgency" I did so in order to see if the US definition of insurgents, those people fighting the US in Iraq, was an accurate use of the term. What I found is what seems to be propaganda which defines the "insurgents" and "insurgency" in a very specific way, a way that is the way the terms are used in Iraq.

Therefore I found no answer to my initial question: is the term used correctly in how it is used to describe certain people and certain behaviors in Iraq?

Leave out the two headers and the information in them so that a more general definition remains. I don't know how this change can be made but I think the change should be done so that Wikipedia remains pure as a source of unbiased information and is not hijacked to perpetuate politically inspired distortions.

I am redundant but what has happened is that a definition of "insurgency" that is questionable and certainly not universally shared, that which is happening in Iraq, is being used as a major source of examples of an "insurgency." This creates confusion. Define "insurgency" and let the debate rage elsewhere as to whether or not there is an insurgency in Iraq. (Oldsopplaya 02:09, 18 June 2007 (UTC))

I agree with you. I see that in popular media, uprisings that are sponsored by or supported by the US are labeled "resistance movements," even though they are classic examples of an insurgency. And classic examples of a resistance movement are labeled "insurgency" by those who do not agree with the politics of it. Again, how many times must you call a duck a turkey before it actually becomes a turkey? This is why I added a clarification under the military definition that states, using the military definition, that the uprising against Hussein's dictatorship was an insurgency, and the uprising against US forces is resistance.--Bodybagger 08:10, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Someone changed your clarification, so that actions against US forces would be considerd "insurgency". Since i feel that Iraq is a too "hot" topic right now, i edited the section in order to delete the changed example. I belive we need a proper discussion about historic examples in the section, since they have a tendency to be coloured by peoples personal political views. Let Wikipedia be as neutral as possible! (Nima Djohari-Taimouri) 23:05, 20 November 2007 (CET)

For some strange reason, the term "insurgent", which was certainly in use over 50 years ago, has become associated with Iraq. Operations in Malaya, under the British, were called the "Malayan Emergency" or the "Malayan War". The Confederate States of America were insurgents. The Easter Rising of 1916 was an insurgency. The Viet Minh, Danish Resistance, Mau Mau, the rebels under George Washington, and Islamic Jihad are insurgents.
Don't give in to the politicians and media in redefining words. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 03:28, 3 April 2008 (UTC)

World War II?

Anything on insurgencies in WWII? French resistance? Partisans in Yugoslavia? Planned post-war German insurgency?


I personally don't think that the headline picture is appropriate. An image of living insurgents would probably be a lot better to accurately portray the article about insurgency, and showing the heaped corpses of insurgents killed by american troops may be a tad inflammatory, and rather apologistic toward insurrection. Perhaps a picture of living, Iraqi insurgents would probably be more appropriate because that's what this article is mainly concerned with, and this image could be moved to somewhere lower on the page. ~ Ludo716

Picture has inaccurate description, those are actually insurgents AGAINST Soviets. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:13, 26 November 2007 (UTC)
LOL how do you know that? Ryan4314 (talk) 14:00, 26 November 2007 (UTC)

Partisan Vs Insurgent?

Great article, very informative but I have a question, are Partisans and Insurgents different?

My current understanding after reading both articles is, that an Insurgent aims to topple a controlling political party, whereas a Partisan attacks a military occupation, is this right?

For example, present day Iraq. Iraqis who attacked Coalition forces between March 20, 2003 (1st day of invasion) and June 28, 2004 (When Iraqi interim government came into power) would be called Partisans. Any Iraqi who attacked Coalition forces after June 28, 2004, would be an Insurgent, because the Coalition is acting as a security force at the behest of the new government. Is this correct? If so perhaps we could go a little further in the article to clarify what an Insurgent is, and what an Insurgent is not, cheers Ryan4314 03:46, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Generally, a partisan is a specific kind of insurgent; I see two major distinctions between "partisan" and "insurgent" based on the history of the word and its etymology:
  • The original use of "partisan" and the etymology of dissecting it to "parti"/"party" is that the person is a devoted or zealous or blindly fanatical adherent to a particular party. That original meaning, which can apply non-militarily to modern political party adherents or to the controlling party, then carries over to the military insurgent context. For example, Communist resistance fighters in Yugoslavia in World War II and Maoist rebels today in Nepal could be accurately called "partisans". In this shade of meaning, then, Baath party adherents from the old Saddam regime might be called "partisans", but probably not Iraqis who attack because of a general anger at the invasion and despoiling of their country or desire to end the occupation.
  • There is the sense of a partisan, perhaps of the previous controlling party, fighting back against a military occupation, whereas an insurgent fights anew against an existing government. In Iraq, however, partisans would still be fighting back against the invasion, occupation, and wrongful or foreign-influenced government, whereas in this sense "insurgent" would imply that they are fighting anew against an existing, rightfully established or long-standing government, so the descriptions do not switch overnight and people would use the words based on their own point of view. For example, if the Nazis had invaded England and the United States did not repel them, there might still be English or monarchists fighting back against the Nazis in the hills of Scotland who could be called partisans depending on the lineage of their resistance. Any original partisans would not overnight become insurgents once the Nazis had established a new "government", whether it be a puppet government or a truly independent government.
  • Whereas an insurgency can be a broad, open revolt with conventional-style military battles between well-armed organized groups, partisans are in small irregular/unorganized bands that operate independently and engage in surprise attacks and may be only lightly armed. An archetypal example of this is "taking to the hills" after an invasion and perhaps laying low until the right opportunity, parlaying quick surprise strikes, or harassing travelers and trade. For historical reasons, however, this word does not apply well to Iraqi insurgents, even those who act in small bands with surprise strikes. Urban warfare does not seem to fit well with "partisan" and, whereas historical partisans might hide in the woods or in the hills, because of modern technology Iraqi insurgents hide among the population in cities and towns. For small irregular bands of insurgents in Iraq, "guerilla" would be the better term.
Centrxtalk • 19:27, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


I've added a tag to "Tactics and strategies" since I believe it contains unverified claims, no references etc. Goldbringer 16:53, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Possible substitute/major rewrite?

I had done some work on insurgency theory in an article more on particular counterinsurgency doctrine, foreign internal defense. Realizing that the more basic material about insurgency didn't belong there, I looked at this article, and found it difficult to integrate that material. In addition, I followed some of the existing Geneva Convention and Red Cross links, and found the text inconsistent with what was said in this article.

So, approaching it from another direction, I created a sandbox article, User:Hcberkowitz/Sandbox-Insurgency. This article draft does contain useful information from the article here, but, on balance, it's a bold rewrite with much new material. I would appreciate it if people familiar with the subject look at the new draft, and give your impressions, probably best recorded here on a mainspace talkpage.

Incidentally, the matrix of insurgencies and their motivations is obviously imperfect, and may well meet with disapproval in its specifics. Believe me, I recognize some of the Irish dates are rather arbitrary. The point of the matrix, in whatever form it survives if at all, is to show the practical difficulty of trying to make a single definition fit all insurgencies.

Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 05:09, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

You have obviously put a lot of work into your new version, and for taking the time and effort to improve upon this popularly-viewed, contentious, and poorly written article, I commend you. However, I am afraid I have problems with your approach. Unlike the current article, which attempts to address the question of the insurgents and insurgencies themselves, your proposed replacement focuses almost exclusively on academic, theoretical, frameworks and definitions. While much of the content is good, and should probably be incorporated into the article, I think that the proposed replacement article, as written, has some problems. This is an encyclopedia, after all, not an academic journal of political science.
  • From the first, the proposed replacement article approaches the subject in a highly academic, and problematizing, manner. Take a look at the articles on rebellion, revolution, and resistance movement. As they stand at this moment, they all start with direct explanations of the meaning and application of the phrase. "A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to fighting an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign nation through either the use of physical force, or nonviolence. The term resistance has political overtones, as people have used it, along with similar terms, to bring support to opposition groups." "A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, "a turnaround") is a significant change that usually takes place in a short period of time. Aristotle described two types of political revolution: 1. Complete change from one constitution to another. 2. Modification of an existing constitution." A straightforward explanation and definition is needed here as well. Note that the precise definition and application of just about any term in just about any discipline can be contentious (e.g. fascism, feudalism), but we nevertheless manage to have articles about the actual phenomenon indicated by the term, and not about the arguments, the contention, over that definition and application. In short, I think the introduction as it stands now, with some tweaks, is far better than the proposed replacement.
  • Even despite the focus on definitions and application, the proposed replacement makes little attempt to define insurgency within the context of rebellions, uprisings, resistance movements, and the like. I recognize that these things do not necessarily fit into neat categories, e.g. that X event is definitively an uprising but not a rebellion, while Y event is an insurgency and not a resistance movement, but even so, if you're going to focus so heavily on theoretical frameworks within there is an attempt to seek a definition, the differences between these terms should be at the forefront, no?
  • While the table of examples of motivations of insurgencies looks upon first glance to be an excellent idea, it again makes little differentiation between insurgencies (a term that I, personally, in my experience, have never heard used to refer to any situation but that in Iraq) and rebellions, uprisings, etc. It also lacks the internal logic that it appears to have upon first glance - what characteristic or category defines items across a row?
  • I think the sections on Tactics and strategies, the military definition of the term, and on the changing nature of insurgency are all important elements. Whether the content of these sections, as they stand now, is good is another question, but in any case, the proposed replacement article lacks all of these. The average reader has no idea who Kilcullen and McCormick and Barnett and Tomes are, and most likely doesn't care, whereas the US military's definition is directly relevant to the current situation in Iraq, to what we see in the news, to current political debates, and to current military attitudes and strategies.
This proposed replacement article is well researched and well written, and shows a serious degree of expertise, and of time and effort put into it. I would recommend submitting it for consideration with a political science journal. But for Wikipedia, I think it needs to be pared down a bit, made a bit less theoretical, less academic, and more encyclopedic. The question at hand is not "what are the current academic (political science) debates regarding the proper definition and application of the term?" but rather "What is an insurgency?". I hope you will take my constructive criticism as it is offered, in good faith, with no intentions of appearing hostile. Thanks again for your hard work. LordAmeth (talk) 06:22, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Your comments are valuable to me, perhaps not in the way that was expected. Recently, for example, I had some complaints on using a particular, active civil war as an example for counterterror. In a very constructive exchange with editors working on that conflict, which has lots of good volunteer moderators, it became apparent that I was using "counter-terror" in a miitary sense. The editor who had objected most strenuously was courteous and honest enough to say that he had never before encountered the term "terror" from anyone but a politician, using it pejoratively, and, most commonly, to bring the conflict into the "system" of the Bush Administration's "global war on terror." In that context, people found it useful to learn there were definitions that did not come from politicians and talking heads, but from working military planners.
So, if the goal is for someone to be able to turn from their TV set and get a simple and quick answer of what an insurgency, a resistance, a rebellion, etc., may be, with an assumption that these are different things, I am not the person to provide such an explanation. As far as the term insurgency being associated only with Iraq, I can only say that when I first worked on military contracts in 1966, the term "Malayan insurgency" and "Malayan emergency" were commonly used for the conflict there between 1948 and 1960. In the US Army, we certainly spoke extensively of insurgency in Vietnam, and quite a few other countries. If there were more common terms, they were "guerilla warfare", and what we already regarded as a political euphemism, "unconventional warfare."
The only term that might be considered specialized was "resistance", and in the context of a stay-behind or spontaneous opposition to a conventional invasion. That you suggest, if I understand you correctly, that it has a primarily political context, surprises me, since it was an extremely common term in the Second World War, for opposition in Axis-conquered countries (e.g., French Resistance, Norwegian Resistance Movement, Danish Resistance Movement as explicit names, Soviet Partisans, Yugoslav Partisans, Viet Minh, Hukbalahap, etc., as all being national opposition to invasions). Hukbalahap, in WWII, translated to "Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army". Whether you or I agree with them, there are people that believe they are resisting a US-led coalition in Iraq, and that they are, in many cases, acting as patriotic Iraqis. In no way do I disagree that many of the people fighting there do not think of themselves as Iraqis, but members of some quite different peoples forced together in a European-defined country after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Said slightly tongue in cheek, the only way anyone is going to figure out what is happening in any real-world insurgency is to turn off the television, and not listen either to politicians or talking heads. Insurrection, rebellion, guerilla war, insurgency -- to me, they are all names for essentially the same process. Terrorism, to go back to Mao, who certainly used it in very non-academic ways, was a large part of the first step of the three-step model that is variously translated as "protracted war" or "guerilla war". As an aside, the second and third stages of Mao's model tend not to work when the opponent is a modern military -- although the second stage can lead to stalemate.
If you prefer, I could move the more formal descriptions -- every one of which is used in the planning of a current military organization down -- and use the operational definitions of people such as Mao, Marighella, Grivas, Guevara, Lawrence, Giap, and others who actually fought such wars. That doesn't obsolete the formal descriptions, but it also doesn't give in to the news/political urge to find sound bites to explain a very complex topic.
We seem to disagree fundamentally on the value of formal definition in an encyclopedia, and that's not meant negatively. This is NOT meant in any way critical to you, but if yours is representative of the consensus of what Wikipedia is meant to be, then I simply don't belong here. That is valuable information that I appreciate. I'd like to see a few more pieces of feedback, and then make my decision.
If there is a collaborative way to use this material in Wikipedia, that's great! I find, however, as a lifelong student of guerilla warfare, resistance, etc., that the existing articles tend to talk around the subject, or seek oversimplified explanations, and I cannot effectively contribute to that style of article. I honestly do not consider this inappropriately theoretical and academic, but if it's not what the average Wikipedia reader wants to see, I need to know that.
Again, sincere thanks. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 12:57, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
I certainly agree with your suggestion to turn off the television - the media these days is not the most professional or reliable or objective source of information. Maybe it is only because this is not my field of study - I do history, not political or military theory - that I see this as being too theoretical, i.e. over my head. As an aspiring scholar, I certainly would not want to imply that we ought to oversimplify in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Even so, I think that the introduction needs to a bit more straightforward (actually, looking at what you've written again, I think you can just use the beginning of your "working toward definition" section as the intro, and get rid of everything above it which focuses too much on criticism of the current US govt definition rather than being more wide and general about the term). Condensing the theory, with more real-world examples used in order to make all these graphs and frameworks and charts make more sense to real historical situations, would also be good I think.
As for my assertion that insurgency, rebellion, uprising are different things, of course I agree with you that they're not entirely separate concepts to be put in completely separate boxes. But as someone who's obviously very experienced and knowledgeable about the theory behind this, surely you have something to say as to the formal, technical, definition of the matter. Just as specialists in various fields differentiate between precision and accuracy, naval and marine/maritime, and rifle/arquebus/musket/matchlock where more general usage might mix up the terms and use them interchangeably, surely there is something your theorists - Kilcullen, Eizenstadt, Barnett, McCormick et al - have something to say on this matter. A touchy subject or not, surely there are some rebellions that aren't uprisings, uprisings that aren't insurgencies, aren't there?
Finally, just to be clear as to my continued references to political science, I am not operating under any mistaken assumption that these are "political" matters in the sense that they would take place within the halls of power. Rather, I use the term "political" because your approach seems to me to be one of political science (or military science?) far more so than one of historiography, economic theory, philosophy, or any other discipline. And is insurgency not more often than not a political matter, anyway? When I say political, I'm not limiting my definition of the word to politicians, to policies or governance, I'm talking about people's political identity - an invasion represents an imposition of a new political system, a new government, over what was there before. Whether we are talking about French (Republican) resistance against Nazi (National Socialist) rule, or Iraqi (pro-Hussein, or pro-Shariah govt, or whatever various positions there are) resistance against American (democratic) rule, there is a political element to what might also be defined as a racial, ethnic, or cultural issue (i.e. resisting being controlled by a different ethnicity, a different culture).
Anyway, I am sure that whatever you come up with in the end, it will be better, and more professionally and authoritatively written, than half the junk people put up on Wikipedia. Thanks. LordAmeth (talk) 22:08, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

Same? Different? Talking this through helps.

I think all of the things you describe are insurgencies. Perhaps the analogy might be that firearms include rifles, arquebuses (if that's the plural. More than one arquebus), muskets, and matchlocks. Matchlocks and firelocks refer to their ignition subsystems, while muskets and rifles address their barrel subsystems.

Believe me, the models that I have described are pure, clear, pools of water, when compared to the early attempts to develop systems of categorizing insurgency, in the sixties and seventies. It did not endear me to my boss when I looked at one 40-page questionnaire intended to be administered, by one of the geniuses at a Army contract research center, to illiterate villagers. This was the "garbage in" that fed the Hamlet Evaluation System used in Vietnam.

I'd call the approach military science, for want of a better term. The study of the factors that lead to insurgency, as well as those that defeat it, are in the realm of grand strategy. Where Clausewitz described war as the extension of national politics by military means, "strategy" now focuses on the military means alone, where "grand strategy" includes military, but also diplomacy, psychological/information, economic, law enforcement, covert operations, and other means.

The matrix in my draft is there to illustrate that there is no one simple categorization model for insurgencies, but it begins to be easier when you see that several categories apply to the same conflict. Models like Kilcullen's and Eizenstat's describe the factors that weaken a society, be they security or economic or identity gaps. McCormick, however, deals with the interactions among the insurgents, the government, the neutral population, and outside organizations. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 22:37, 31 March 2008 (UTC)

As to your point about the "average reader", I'll make two observations. First, there is no reason not to have an article about the Iraqi insurgency. Second, if the average reader gets things oversimplified into sound bites, he won't be better off than he was to start with. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 03:29, 3 April 2008 (UTC)
Picking this up again, I'm concerned that many of the definitions in this article source dictionaries, rather than serious works on warfare. Dictionary definitions have a habit of oversimplifying. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 20:48, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Bold major rewrite

The new version contains almost everything that was in the old version, but in a more formal context and with supplemental material. Unfortunately, politicians and news talking heads try to make "insurgency" a new concept specific to Iraq, or restrict its definition, or separate a wide range of actions that are reasonably considered insurgency. One important point is that terrorism does not necessarily equate to insurgency or vice versa.

I'm sorry, but I cannot find a simple and universal definition of insurgency, much as some people would like -- at least without violating WP:OR. General-purpose dictionary definitions are oversimplified to the point of uselessness.

See also counterinsurgency, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism. These articles are in varying shape, but should be considered together to minimize overlap and maximize appropriate cross-referencing.

Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 17:20, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

Quote at begining Neutral?

QUOTE FROM ARTICLE: Insurgency is far more than what politicians and journalists oversimplify as the Global War on Terror which deals only with one tactic, is inaccurate for the U.S. since it does not fight all terror worldwide, and is a term that does not include the political and other nonviolent means needed to defeat an insurgency:

The term “war on terrorism” is a misnomer, resulting in distorted ideas of the main threat facing Americans today. Terrorism is only a means to an end; in this respect, a “war on terror” makes no more sense than a war on submarines.
– Francis Fukuyama[7]  END QUOTE

This article is not about Iraqi insurgency, the war on terror, or U.S. policy in the war on terror, and therefore the above statement does not seem to fit with the purpose of the article. Furthermore, the information is stated and organized in such a way that seems unobjective at best, and biased at worst. Tominator93 (talk) 05:32, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

I agree completely that the article is not about Iraqi insurgency, the war on terror, or U.S. policy in the war on terror. A significant number of politicians and journalists say that it does. There have been discussions, as, for example, with counter-terror and the Sri Lankan Civil War, that calling something counterterrorist does not make it compliant with the U.S. policy.
The quote specifically rejects this USS-oriented definition of insurgency. It is an introduction, and a wide range of factors, from multiple sources, demonstrates that it is a worldwide issue. Sometimes, the most useful introductions establish what something is not, which is the intention here. The Fukuyama quote is intended to be read in the context of the rest of the article, not by itself. Feel free to suggest, however, language you feel is more neutral, but I believe the introduction, as a whole, is quite NPOV.
Please be specific about what you consider biased.

Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 12:10, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

QUOTE: "Insurgency is far more than what politicians and journalists oversimplify as the Global War on Terror" END QUOTE

The introduction itself accuses politicians and journalists of oversimplification, and said accusation is not represented as an opinion, but as fact. I might understand if this was written as a subtopic regarding the use of the term Insurgent, or a subtopic about controversy over alienation of the term Insurgent, but I do not feel that it belongs in the Introduction. I would think that the introduction should be a brief summary of what an insurgent is, not a field for political criticism. Tominator93 (talk) 22:16, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

Fukuyama is one of many sources that the term "global war on terror" makes no sense to anyone with a reading knowledge of military affairs. I will add additional sources. In researching this article, in several completely separate articles, I discovered Wikipedia editors, knowledgeable in their field but not in insurgency, assume that it was a term unique to Iraq and unique to the "Global War on Terror".
Ironically, a simple summary will be quite hard to source, as it is a complex concept without simple answers, although media and politicians love to oversimplify it.
Actually, I'm surprised that you are focusing on journalists and politicians, since they are not even mentioned until the second paragraph. The lead paragraph does have a "basic" definition: The common concept, in a wide range of definitions, is that it involves a desire for political power, achieved through means illegal under the rules of the existing government.
There isn't any overemphasis on the U.S. in the lead paragraph, the first quote of which is from the French writer and academic, Bernard Fall. The paragraph goes on to describe insurgencies in numerous countries.
I have added additional sourcing of concern about oversimplification in the second paragraph. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 22:54, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

"Rough Classification of States" table; how to improve

After a pleasant discussion that avoided a revert war, I'd welcome suggestions on how to improve the mechanics of the table, "Rough Classification of States" as weak to varying extents. It may not be clear that this is a summary of such states from the major sources, such as Eizenstat, Kilcullen, and Cordesman.

When I first created the table, I tried to put a source on every single country reference within the body of the table, but that soon became unreadable in edit mode. Eventually, I seemed to be faced with the choices;

  • Get rid of the table
  • Get rid of detailed footnotes in it
  • Prepare the table, with detailed footnotes, as a graphic, but that would not be editable.

None of these were ideal, but there is clear grounds for confusion. For example, one reading of the material led an editor to assume the table entries were all from Kilcullen, while the specific example of Pakistan was from Eizenstat.

Any ideas on making this clearer and more useful?

Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 03:16, 26 April 2008 (UTC)


Somehow the introductory paragraphs got so precipitously into specifics that they ceased to play the proper role of an introduction. I've restored four introductory paragraphs from a version dating from March, without eliminating anything substantial from the current version. Mainly my restorations are intended to ease the reader into the subject matter before transitioning to technicalities. Martel,C (talk) 06:47, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I propose to delete those three paragraphs. No serious student of worldwide insurgency considers a participant in the mainstream political process, even a maverick like Ron Paul, an insurgent. The insurrection vs. insurgent also tells me nothing useful abotu the subject. These are not introductory to the topic; they are grabbing the sort of misinformation that gets propagated in sound bites by politicians and television "commentators". Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 00:06, 6 May 2008 (UTC)

american colonists - anti-colonialist and anti- occupation in the table - surely not?

american colonists - anti-colonialist and anti- occupation in the table -
Should they not be separatists? By definition, they are occupying somebody elses land, rather than the inverse.
And anti-colonial colonists - is such a thing possible. Surely they would be separatist colonists?
Mariya Oktyabrskaya (talk) 01:09, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

Over and Covert Wings

This section states as fact that a number of organizations are connected to terrorist organizations without citation and despite their denials. This seems an obvious violation of factual accuracy. AzureFury (talk | contribs) 15:04, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Historical Examples - POV?

It seems to me that the Insurgency#Potential for insurgency and historical examples section is written as a refutation to the widely held belief that all insurgencies are Islamic, using phrases like "incorrect assumption" and "easily challenged." This seems to me to be a clear violation of WP:NPOV. AzureFury (talk | contribs) 15:23, 14 August 2008 (UTC)