Winning Hearts and Minds? Understanding the Relationship Between Aid and Security

heart-minds2The 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.

Winning Hearts and Minds? Examing the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan
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By Paul Fishstein, Andrew Wilder | September 2013

This paper by Paul Fishstein and Andrew Wilder presents findings from research conducted by FIC in five provinces of Afghanistan between July 2008 and January 2010 on the relationship between...

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Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Kenya
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By Mark Bradbury, Michael Kleinman | September 2013

This case study on Kenya, researched and written by Mark Bradbury and Michael Kleinman, is the first in a series of publications presenting the findings of a two-year FIC comparative...

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Winning Hearts and Minds in Uruzgan Province
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By Paul Fishstein | September 2013

Research in Uruzgan suggests that insecurity is largely the result of the failure of governance, which has exacerbated traditional tribal rivalries. While respondents within the international military did report some...

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Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan's Helmand Province
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By Stuart Gordon | September 2013

Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments,...

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Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Faryab Province
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By Geert Gompelman | September 2013

Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments,...

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Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan's Balkh Province
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By Paul Fishstein | September 2013

Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments,...

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