Reading and learning are two of my passions and it is my pleasure to share these books with you.I have read them all and have found them to be both insightful and engaging. I encourage your feedback and I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did.
Maj Chris Buckham
Sunday, 9 August 2015
The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of Small Wars - Ganesh Sitaraman
This review was published in Military Review magazine.
Title: The Counterinsurgent's Constitution: Law in the Age of
Author: Ganesh Sitaraman
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Mr Sitaraman has written a book that tackles the complex issue of
the application of law not only during the execution/prosecution of small wars
in the modern age but also the development of said law from the ground up. He
has approached his subject via three distinct 'gates' in which each provide
background and structure for the subsequent; this method presents and develops
his arguments. His sections: The Law of War, From War to Peace and The
Reconstruction of Order are in and of themselves incredibly complex and worthy
of comprehensive individual examination.
The author's central theme throughout the book focusses upon the
critical interdependence between the three pillars of his Counterinsurgency
Constitution: legitimacy, law and war. While undertaking counterinsurgent
operations, all three of these aspects must be approached concurrently if the
counterinsurgent is to achieve conditions whereby they can revert
responsibility back to the central government, police and national judiciary
and, ultimately, stand-down operations. As one progresses through his book it
becomes increasingly clear how challenging and difficult to achieve are the
tenants that he is espousing; indeed, he is, in effect providing a framework
within which the nature of warfare as traditionally understood is realigned.
The ideas are presented to the reader in a linear fashion but with
multiple 'lanes'. That is to say, the author identifies a concept and pursues
it to a logical and linear conclusion, facilitating understanding for the
reader. However, he does so with multiple concepts concurrently in order to
better clarify the interdependence of his ideas (or as he suggests, the
'organic nature' of the law, war and society). His concepts are not new, nor
are they particularly recent in development, but they are unique to a western
population, government and military steeped in traditions of symmetric war and
relatively quick fixes to issues.
This is an engaging and challenging read both for the concepts
that it espouses and the nature of its presentation. It is definitely a
'thinking' book and he uses it to focus attention on what is, for many in the
West, a new and difficult way of war; one that is specifically suited to the
asymmetric arena. He acknowledges that he does not have the definitive answers
and certainly that international law has not kept pace with the changing nature
of warfare. Additionally, he alludes to, but does not speak specifically about,
the fact that not only has the nature of war changed in and of itself, but also
the level of tolerance amongst society (both within the conflict zones and
domestic populations of the engaging militaries). As an aspect of law and
conflict the counterinsurgent has now to manage expectations in a world of
instant information and 'sound bite' attention spans. Strongly recommended.