The Coming Age of the Urban Guerrilla: A Political Salon with David Kilcullen

This event is by invitation only.


Veteran military strategist David Kilcullen’s new book departs from the remote, rural guerrilla warfare of Afghanistan and focuses on the new hotspots of global strife in an increasingly crowded, urban, coastal, connected,  and dangerous new world. As global population explodes alongside urban migration, predictions show that by 2050 roughly 75% of the world’s population will live in cities. Where these megatrends collide with increased connectivity–places ranging from Kingston to Mogadishu, Honduras to Benghazi to Mumbai–Kilcullen projects a future of feral cities, urban systems under stress, and increasing overlaps between crime and war, internal and external threats, and the real and virtual worlds. 

In this Political Salon, David Kilcullen offers a roadmap through these complex security threats that looks towards collaborations interweaving the insight only locals can bring with outsider knowledge from fields such as urban planning, systems engineering, alternative energy technology, conflict resolution, mediation, and other disciplines. 

About the Speaker

Dr. David Kilcullen is the Chief Executive Officer of Caerus Associates. Kilcullen pioneers new ways to understand and engage with environments in conflict and specializes in designing for positive human impact in complex environments. Kilcullen served 24 years as a soldier, diplomat and policy advisor for the Australian and United States governments. He was Special Advisor to the Secretary of State from 2007-2009. He has provided advice at the highest levels of the Bush and Obama administrations, and has worked in peace and stability operations, humanitarian relief and counterinsurgency environments in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, South Asia and Africa. His bestselling books The Accidental Guerrilla and Counterinsurgency are used worldwide by civilian government officials, policymakers, military and development professionals working in unstable and insecure environments. He holds a PhD in the politics of insurgency from the University of New South Wales.

About the Moderator

WPI Project Leader Michelle Fanzo has been following the trajectory of cities since she was a journalist in Pittsburgh 20 years ago, covering an urban environment in the midst of structural change.  She followed such transformation in other cities and regions, leading to being a Fellow at an urban affairs think tank in Berlin. Michelle’s work moved further into the international arena with a career at the UN, including working in the Office of the Secretary-General under Kofi Annan. After returning from directing a women’s empowerment NGO in Afghanistan, Michelle founded Four Corners Consulting in 2009 and focuses her work on urbanization and resilience, sustainability, and disaster risk reduction. 

About the Sponsors

A center for global thought leadership, the World Policy Institute is uniquely focused on the crucial but neglected challenges and opportunities of an increasingly connected world. We stress innovative, transformative thinking; diversity of ideas, and a global perspective. World Policy Journal, fellows, events, and policy projects provide channels for supporters, thought leaders, decision makers, experts, and citizens to identify, debate, and develop constructive solutions.

The Political Salon – organized by Steve Sokol since 2003 to promote dialogue among the next generation of leaders in business, policy, and the media – regularly convenes a diverse group of young professionals to discuss a range of foreign policy issues and global affairs. Attendees are diverse in terms of nationality, profession, and political persuasion.

With special thanks to the Heinrich Böll Foundation for supporting the Political Salon.


[Image courtesy of Oxford University Press]

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