Pacification and Its Discontents

Pacification and Its Discontents

As George W. Bush's Iraq mission unravelled, U.S. policy elites revived counterinsurgency doctrines--known in an earlier incarnation as pacification. The new edition of the Counterinsurgency Field Manual defines pacification as "the process by which the government assert[s] its influence and control in an area beset by insurgents," which includes "local security efforts, programs to distribute food and medical supplies, and lasting reforms (like land redistribution)." Such language may sound innocuous, but for Kurt Jacobsen and fellow skeptics, "pacification" and its synonym, "counterinsurgency," are stale euphemisms for violent suppression of popular resistance movements abroad, citing the inexorable tragic atrocities committed against non-combatants in Vietnam and elsewhere. In this pamphlet, Jacobsen examines pacification, the rehabilitation of repressive practices, and their attendant illusions--practices that, he argues, civilized nations have a duty to abandon.

Publication Date: 
December 1, 2009