The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

“Its the Economy Stupid Comrade!”

Maoist revolutionalry war theory puts the priority of effort on the political line of operations. Our experience with our own domestic politics indicates that the key to successful politics is the economy. Therefore… maybe:

COIN = Politics

Politics = Economy

.’. COIN = Economy


January 24, 2013 - Posted by | H300, military history, Professional Military Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. The relationship between counter insurgency and the political line of effort is one defeats the other. The American economy and the underlying ideals of capitalism support the political ideology of democracy, however capitalism is not a center of gravity of democracy that if you destroy, you would destroy the political ideology. Therefore, if you target the economic backing of an insurgent group through COIN, you would make it difficult for the organization to operate, but it wouldn’t
    capitulate under a Maoist philosophy. The best example of where an economy doesn’t play a role is Mao and the Chinese peasants who supported him. The agrarian lifestyle didn’t provide many opportunities for the Nationalist to exploit their economy to defeat the Maoist communist insurgency. Even if you destroyed the peasants’ livelihood, you would not have broken the insurgency. Instead, you probably would have fortified it.

    Comment by Bryan J Dutcher | February 7, 2013

  2. To suggest that this equates to the mathematical formula of COIN=economy is too simplistic; the reasons that any given population would support and participate in an insurgency are both numerous and complex. It is often a combination of many thorny factors such as religion, political corruption, economic grievances, ethnic discrimination, unequal representation in the government, or ideology. Unless the sovereign government can effectively address all of the grievances of the population, the insurgency is bound to survive and find allies in the aggrieved populace. Following Mao’s example, they may face setbacks but the enduring grievances provide them room to reconstitute their efforts. Easy solutions in counter-insurgency operations should be eschewed, especially if they are in any way related to math.

    Comment by Michael Cochran | February 20, 2013

  3. The reason for COIN is to go beneath the grain of understanding and find the root of the problem, If we continue to fight battles with the lack of addressing that root, it will only end in a wasted cause. Maoist philosophy addressing the need to place politics first is by far appropriate, because politics run the country thru the support of the economy then into COIN. If the economy is at a stage or state where people won’t support the politics, the cause will never be supported. Wars are fought by the backing of the people willing to go along with the political views. Each and every one of those supports the other. But in the end, regardless of how much money, supporters, believers and so forth, we must educate our leaders in ensuring we are addressing and fighting towards answering the root problem as much as possible which is the ONLY way to make a forward impact in COIN operations.

    Comment by Detrice Mosby | March 19, 2013

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