Why do the strong lose? Intuitively, stronger violent actors should win in wars against weaker actors. The literature on insurgencies suggests that democracies will do worse than other countries. However, there is little quantitative literature on why states succeed or fail in their efforts against insurgencies, and the key works find that democracy does not matter. We argue that the combined effect of political inclusion and political competition present in inclusive democracies is a key missing component impacting the success or failure of counterinsurgency (COIN). When procedural elements of democracy are combined with political inclusion, countries are less likely to be successful at suppressing insurgencies because normatively they are less willing to be as repressive and ruthless as necessary. We find that inclusion and procedural democracy separately have no impact on COIN success; however, when combined, the impact is significant, large, and negative. Inclusive democracies lose COIN operations more often than their counterparts.
Asal, Victor, Kathleen Deloughery and Steve Sin. 2016. "Democracy, Inclusion and Failure in Counterinsurgency." Foreign Policy Analysis (April). https://fpa.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/04/21/fpa.orw018