Research Back To Research Areas
Winning Hearts and Minds? Understanding the Relationship Between Aid and Security
The Center is conducting comparative field research in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa to examine the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives. The belief that aid “wins hearts and minds” and is an effective “weapons system” in counterinsurgency operations is having a major impact on aid policies and counterinsurgency strategies.
There is a widely held assumption in military and foreign policy circles that development assistance is an important “soft power” tool to promote stabilization and security objectives in fragile states. Counterinsurgency doctrine in particular emphasizes the importance of reconstruction assistance in “winning hearts and minds” of civilian populations and in promoting stabilization. This assumption is having a major policy impact on how development assistance is apportioned and spent, and provides an important rationale for the growing ‘securitization’ of development assistance.
Given how widespread the assumption is, and given its major impact on aid and counterinsurgency policies, there is to date little empirical evidence that supports the assumption of a causal link between reconstruction assistance, “winning hearts and minds,” and/or improved stabilization and security. While considerable time, effort and resources have been devoted to assessing the effectiveness of aid in achieving humanitarian and development objectives, surprisingly few resources have been devoted to assessing the effectiveness of aid in achieving stabilization and security objectives.
FIC is conducting comparative field research in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Horn of Africa to examine the effectiveness of reconstruction aid in promoting stabilization objectives. The main objective of this research is to try to answer the question: How effective is development aid in promoting stabilization objectives? Some of our initial findings suggest that in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa there is little evidence that development assistance, intended in part to “win hearts and minds,” has contributed significantly to improved stability or security.
This research has been generously supported by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, and the governments of Australia, Norway and Sweden.
- Opposed Development: Concept and Implications. Presentations by David Kilcullen, Andrew Wilder, Andrew Natsios, Nancy Lindborg, and James Schear at the U.S. Institute of Peace. July 2010.
- Interview with Andrew Wilder on CNN by Christiane Amanpour. December 2009.
- Interview with Andrew Wilder on research findings on NPR’s “Morning Edition,”. November 2009.
- Theory Meets Practice: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Presentations by David Kilcullen and Andrew Wilder at the US Institute for Peace. June 2009.
- “The Real Problem in Afghanistan”. By the Tufts Journal. November 2009.
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