Working Projects

“Politics in Weak States” Dissertation project

“Local Trust in UN Peacekeeping Operations: Survey Evidence from DRCongo” (with Patrick Vinck and Phuong Pham) Working paper.  Abstract

Peacekeeping operations rely on the support of the local population both to gather information and to solidify peace. To gain such support, missions must cultivate trust with the residents in the areas in which they operate. We develop a theory of a transactional model of trust with international peacekeeping missions: those who interact with and benefit from UN peacekeeping missions are more likely to trust it. We find support for this theory leveraging two waves of an original, representative survey of more than 12,000 adults in three eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo and an additional sample of more than 5,000 civilians in areas directly around peacekeeping bases. Our results show that civilians are more likely to express trust in the peacekeeping mission if they have direct contact with it. But this result is driven by those who come into contact with the civilian aspects of the mission; in contrast, those who only come into contact with the military parts of the mission are less likely to support the mission. These results suggest that to garner the support of the civilians it is sent to protect, peacekeeping missions must provide more than security.

“Make a Desert to Force the Peace” (with Benjamin Laughlin and Jessica Sun) Revision in process. Abstract

Governments conducting counterinsurgency campaigns attempt to undermine rebellions’ access to resources that allow insurgents to continue their challenge against the state. Sustained rebellion requires significant infrastructure, capital, and supplies of resources. We argue that counterinsurgents target capital and infrastructure not just as byproduct of tactics that target insurgent fighters, but as a distinct strategy to undermine the future potential of the rebellion to produce violence. The effect of deliberate destruction of property and infrastructure is two-fold: targeting capital directly degrades an insurgent group’s resources, and affects civilians’ willingness and ability to provide material support for the insurgents, sometimes through forcible displacement. We find evidence that supports these dual motivations for government’s targeting capital by combining micro-level data on more than 5500 villages and fine-grained satellite data on the locations of violent incidents during the GAM III counterinsurgency campaign in Aceh, Indonesia. We demonstrate that in areas where the insurgents had access to capital, it was more likely a given village experienced violence that targeted infrastructure. We then explore when targeting rebel sources of capital complements or substitutes for a “draining the sea’’ strategy to compel migration.

“Instability for Stability’s Sake: The Paradox of Leader Tenure in Weak Autocracies” In Progress.