Author Biography

Dr. Cox’s recent books include, Terrorism, Instability, and Democracy in Asia and Africa, published by the University Press of New England and two edited volumes, Population-Centric Counterinsurgency: A False Idol? and Stability Economics. Dr. Cox has scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed, academic journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Peace Research, The International Journal of Public Opinion Research, Parameters, Infinity Journal, and Congress and the Presidency. His work has also appeared in practical journals such as Joint Force Quarterly, Terrorism Monitor and Small Wars Journal. Dr. Cox’s recent work has been cited in several venues including Foreign Policy Magazine, The Austin Times, The UN High Commissioner For Refugees website, and the Straits Times of Singapore. Dr. Cox is also a featured blogger on E-International Relations, the Reviews Editor for Special Operations Journal, and on the Board of Executives for the Special Operations Research Association. Dr. Alex Ryan is a Senior Systems Design Advisor with the Government of Alberta. He co-founded the Alberta CoLab and leads a cross-ministry systemic design and strategic foresight team working to institutionalize systems thinking, design and foresight within government policy and planning processes to address diverse issues such as energy strategy, resource management, stakeholder engagement, social innovation, health system transformation, and early childhood development. Dr. Alex Ryan has previously taught operational and strategic design at the U.S. School of Advanced Military Studies, and helped to institutionalize design within Western militaries, working with clients such as U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Australian Special Operations Command, and the Canadian Forces College. Dr. Alex Ryan is a co-founder of the Systemic Design Research Network and a co-chair of the Relating Systems Thinking and Design Symposium. His dissertation in applied mathematics advanced a multidisciplinary approach to complex systems design.



Subject Area Keywords

Africa, Al-Qaida, Armed groups, Asymmetric warfare, Civil war and internal conflict, Complex operations, Counterinsurgency, Counterterrorism, Ethnic conflict, Identity, Ideology, Irregular warfare, National security, Religious violence, Small wars and insurgencies, Southeast Asia, Terrorism / counterterrorism, Violent extremism


It is possible for an insurgency to develop from a single cause, for the insurgents to identify and communicate this unifying cause to the population, and for the insurgents to remain steadfastly focused even as counterinsurgents undermine their organization and redress the cause. But often the case that there is no single cause, that popular support is mobilized by appealing to multiple motivations, and that by the time counterinsurgents resolve the initial grievance, the insurgency has found alternative justifications to mobilize popular support. Since insurgent leadership is often competent and adaptive, it would be wise to consider the latter scenario against any counterinsurgency strategy. Yet, even when this is acknowledged in the counterinsurgency literature, the theory is remarkably silent how this affects the choice of operational approach This paper addresses this gap and offers a framework for more accurately mapping, understanding, anticipating, and addressing the multiple causes that draw adherents to insurgency and allow for its perpetuation.