Publications and Research

Current Manuscripts

“Relationalism and State Building Interventions: Boundaries, Networks, and Global Contexts”

This piece applies the relational institutionalism framework to studying state building interventions. It argues that state building outcomes are complex phenomena depending on the relational context in which the intervention takes place. The emergence of legitimate state institutions and identities depends on network configurations that permit brokerage and yoking by nationalist entrepreneurs. These mechanisms can be activated if state building networks exhibit high density, high centrality of nationalist entrepreneurs, and structural equivalence among subnational entrepreneurs. An ideal type of network is develop which consists of a hub-and-spoke network embedded in a broader network of similar design. This ideal type is then employed to make sense out of the trajectory of state building in Afghanistan since 2001.

Currently under submission.

“The Effectiveness of Coercive and Persuasive Counterinsurgency Practices since 1945”

Which counterinsurgency approaches are most effective in defeating insurgencies? Counterinsurgency advocates and critics have debated the effectiveness of winning hearts and minds as well as using brute force against ordinary civilians. But little scholarship has sought to systemically compare these counterinsurgency approaches among a broad range of cases. This paper seeks to remedy this gap in the literature with an empirical analysis of 47 counterinsurgency wars from 1945-2000 to evaluate the effectiveness of coercive and persuasive approaches to counterinsurgency. These approaches are shown to be based on the assumptions of realist and liberal international relations theory. To evaluate them, I use crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis (QCA), or Boolean analysis, to identify the presence or absence of six coercive and persuasive counterinsurgency practices across all cases. This method enables me to highlight how counterinsurgency victory can be produced by combinations of practices rather than a single set of practices that might be expected to be useful across cases. The results demonstrate that many combinations of coercive, persuasive, and mixed counterinsurgency practices can lead to victory. However, more persuasive combinations of practices consistently lead to counterinsurgent victory compared to others, although limited coercion against civilians is constant in all cases of counterinsurgency. These findings cast doubt on the ability of counterinsurgents to refrain from harming civilians and suggest that victory requires a mix of both positive and negative incentives for cooperation.

Submitted for review to Civil Wars


“At War with Social Theory: Instrumental and Communicative Action in US Military Doctrine During the War on Terror”

As US counterinsurgency campaigns draw to a close, doctrine for asymmetric warfare written during the War on Terror has come under heavy criticism. While many have argued that this shift to ‘winning hearts and minds’ is evidence that the United States is taking humanitarianism and nation-building seriously, others argue that a wide gap exists between US
counterinsurgency doctrine and the protection of civilians afflicted by conflict. In this paper, I show that the latter is true by comparing theories of instrumental and communicative action to US doctrine for Operational Design, stability operations, and counterinsurgency. I argue that these texts treat civilians as an object to be manipulated for the achievement of pre-determined self-interested strategic goals rather than members of a community that jointly designs operations to fulfill shared objectives. However, US doctrine does contain communicative elements that, if prioritised, would better support humanitarian and state building objectives otherwise subordinated in the War on Terror.

Forthcoming in Small Wars and Insurgencies

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