As George W. Bush's Iraq mission unraveled, U.S. policy elites revived counterinsurgency doctrines - known in an earlier incarnation as pacification. The new edition of the "Counterinsurgency Field Manual" defines pacification as 'the process by which the government assert[s] its influence and control in an area beset by insurgents', which includes 'local security efforts, programs to distribute food and medical supplies, and lasting reforms (like land redistribution)'. Such language may sound innocuous, but for Kurt Jacobsen and fellow skeptics, 'pacification' and its synonym 'counterinsurgency' are stale euphemisms for violent suppression of popular resistance movements abroad - the tragic atrocities committed against non-combatants in Vietnam and elsewhere. In this pamphlet, Jacobsen examines pacification, the rehabilitation of repressive practices, and their attendant illusions - practices that, he argues, civilized nations have a duty to abandon.
Kurt Jacobsen is a research associate in the Program on International Politics, Economics, and Security in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and the book review editor at Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture. He is the author or editor of many books, including Experiencing the State and the forthcoming Freud's Foes: Psychoanalysis, Science, and Resistance.