All cases of genocide in the modern era feature counterinsurgency in some capacity. Often, genocidal acts are justified as counterinsurgency, and counterinsurgency doctrines and tactics are employed to carry out many genocides. While genocides often have international dimensions, they are mostly carried out within the context of intrastate armed conflicts, almost all of which can be characterized as counterinsurgency. In this article, I expand upon Martin Shaw's model of Genocide as War by exploring the theoretical linkages between counterinsurgency and genocide to demonstrate where counterinsurgency fits into the genocide process. Two specific linkages are drawn to show how counterinsurgency complements the genocide process: total transformation of society through militarization, and exploitation of the asymmetries of power between the opposing groups. The relationship between counterinsurgency and genocide is not constructed as a causal one, but recursive (i.e., mutually reinforcing). By examining the Rwandan and Guatemalan Genocides, I demonstrate how genocide is operationalized through counterinsurgency in both cases. I conclude by providing areas for further investigation toward a unifying theory between the scholarships on genocide and counterinsurgency.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 6-25
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.