Cycle of Insurgency: What an insurgency in the US would look like

By Justin King


Dallas, Texas (TFC– The cycle of insurgency is a historical pattern. The Fifth Column’s journalists don’t have crystal balls. The accuracy of the predictions in this series of articles has relied entirely on applying the historical cycles to current events. Until this point, the series has avoided addressing what a full-blown insurgency in the United States would look like. It was hoped it wouldn’t be necessary.  For those who are just catching up on the series, here are the stages of the cycle of insurgency:


Prior to the digital age, pamphlets were the main method of spreading dissent around the world. The pamphlets examined and questioned the authority of the contemporary governments and control systems. In the modern world, pamphlets have been replaced by blogs, social media, and to a smaller degree, adversarial journalists.

Reactive Protests:

Once the seed of dissent is planted, people take to the streets to voice their opposition to the government. These protests occur after the control systems of the era attempt to defuse an offending incident.

Preemptive Rioting:

Preemptive rioting follows a period of reactive protests that go unanswered by the government. The people begin taking to the streets and destroying private and public property as soon as an offending incident takes place, rather than waiting and hoping for the government to police itself.

Military or Law Enforcement backlash and crackdowns:

These riots and small incidents of resistance trigger a government reaction. The control systems of the country tighten their grip on the people and further curtail civil liberties and infringe on people’s rights. The government crackdown fuels the resistance movement as more people tire of government intrusion.

Widespread rebellion and insurrection:
At some point during the crackdown, an incident occurs that tosses a match into the powder keg of dissent. At this point, open rebellion occurs.

Insurrection vs. other forms of political violence

Many use the terms, “insurrection” and “terrorism” interchangeably. They aren’t. While they appear similar, they’re separated by several key facets. The most important is that an insurgency is a movement with a political aim. Terrorism is a tactic. Many insurgencies use terrorism as a component in their campaigns, but they can be conducted without it. Terrorism typically seeks to inculcate fear in the civilian populace. Terrorism Research points out:

Terrorism does not attempt to challenge government forces directly, but acts to change perceptions as to the effectiveness or legitimacy of the government itself. This is done by ensuring the widest possible knowledge of the acts of terrorist violence among the target audience. Rarely will terrorists attempt to “control” terrain, as it ties them to identifiable locations and reduces their mobility and security. Terrorists as a rule avoid direct confrontations with government forces. A guerilla force may have something to gain from a clash with a government combat force, such as proving that they can effectively challenge the military effectiveness of the government. A terrorist group has nothing to gain from such a clash. This is not to say that they do not target military or security forces, but that they will not engage in anything resembling a “fair fight”, or even a “fight” at all. Terrorists use methods that neutralize the strengths of conventional forces. Bombings and mortar attacks on civilian targets where military or security personnel spend off-duty time, ambushes of undefended convoys, and assassinations of poorly protected individuals are common tactics.

The most successful insurgencies tend to use a combination of terrorism, guerrilla warfare, and conventional warfare. The shootings in Dallas were not terrorism. The targets were armed government forces who had a fair chance of engaging the opposition.


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