Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


English; History; Political Science, International Development, and International Affairs

First Advisor

Miles Doleac, Ph.D.

Advisor Department



The most common form of warfare so far in the 21st Century has been insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, types of warfare which are particularly challenging for industrialized Western nations to wage effectively. This paper identifies six factors of primary importance which form the key to a successful counterinsurgency campaign. These factors are legitimacy, clarity, beneficial geopolitical factors, restraint, intellectual understanding, and an enduring commitment. This paper argues that these factors must all be present for a counterinsurgency campaign to succeed, and argues that without these factors being accounted for a counterinsurgency will fail. The British humanitarian intervention in Sierra Leone in 2000 and their subsequent counterinsurgency campaign is here considered as a type case study to illustrate the importance of these factors in waging a successful counterinsurgency campaign.