The British 'hearts and minds' approach to counterinsurgency was credited with rare successes against insurgencies in Malaya (1948-60), Northern Ireland (1969-2007) and its widely admired approach to peacekeeping in the nineties. More recently, the British influenced the development of US counterinsurgency thinking on Iraq just as the British Army was perceived to be failing in Southern Iraq. Despite their attempt, the British military failed to restore their reputation by involvement in the 'good war' in Afghanistan.
This timely and critical volume questions the effectiveness of Britain's 'hearts and minds' approach and challenges conventional counterinsurgency thinking by drawing on the expertise of regional and thematic specialists. Regional experts suggest that simplistic and over-optimistic lessons drawn from Britain's historical experiences in Malaya and Northern Ireland could not provide lessons for the complexities of Iraq and Afghanistan. Thematic specialists raise questions about the suitability of the military for 'humanitarian interventions' and the impact of these wars on domestic politics and society.