Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2021

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Todd Gabe

Second Committee Member

Jonathan Malacarne

Third Committee Member

Steven Veves


Small Wars, Asymmetric Wars, Insurgencies, Guerrilla Wars. They have been occupying a larger and larger share of violent conflicts over the last two centuries, and have posed more significant challenges to status quo states as time has gone on. The approach of brutal repression, once considered the only method to wage war, has been questioned more frequently as the only method to approaching the challenge these insurgencies face. With an enemy hiding amongst a non-combatant public, much of the criticism has been about the morality of indiscriminate violence when innocents will necessarily be caught in the crossfire. Increasingly, more of the criticism is around the efficacy of simple repression. In Iraq, these criticisms became more stark as the conflict dragged on, with violence increasing every year under an approach that did not take the “hearts and minds” strategy seriously. Once this approach took center-stage, violence declined precipitously. This thesis attempts to measure, using a review of recent literature and a fixed effects regression model, how the efforts in this changed approach may have contributed to the reduction in violence seen in the Iraqi insurgency. Overall, the evidence appears to show moderate support for the change in strategy to a more precisely hearts and minds style of counterinsurgency.