The other side of the COIN: minimum and exemplary force in British Army counter-insurgency in Kenya

Huw Charles Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

This article argues that the British government's deliberate exclusion of international law from colonial counterinsurgencies allowed the army to suppress opponents with little restraint. The oft-assumed national inhibitor, the principle of ‘minimum force’, was actually widely permissive. As a result exemplary force was employed to coerce the Kikuyu civilian population in Kenya into supporting the government rather than the insurgents. Apparently random acts were thus strategic, and emerged in three forms: beatings and torture, murders, and forced population movement. The article argues that such harsh measures were seen as necessary and effective; they were a form of indirect policy and did not arise from a disciplinary breakdown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-664
Number of pages26
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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