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The Successes and Shortcomings of Provincial Reconstruction Teams in the U.S. War in Afghanistan: Lessons from the Scholarly Conflict Literature

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Insurgency within a state is an important and frequent occurrence during armed conflict. The large political science literature on conflict reveals that there are many factors that contribute to insurgency within societies engaged in armed conflict including the scope and

Insurgency within a state is an important and frequent occurrence during armed conflict. The large political science literature on conflict reveals that there are many factors that contribute to insurgency within societies engaged in armed conflict including the scope and intensity of violence, the relative strength of insurgent groups, and the type of regime in power. In addition, there are other relevant issues for understanding the causes of insurgency in a particular place, including greed, grievance, ideology, sociopolitical institutions, geography, ethnicity, and the specific nature of the conflict’s impact on particular communities. In this study, I review the political science literature on conflict as a means of gaining insight on how and why individuals join insurgent groups and the causes and severity of state retaliation against both individuals and insurgent groups. Frameworks within the conflict literature provide a better understanding of key aspects of the U.S. War in Afghanistan from 2002 to 2012. Specifically, I focus on the ways in which these issues are related to the practices and policies of the U.S.

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs), civil-military joint teams created by the U.S. government, are intended to assist in development and reconstruction projects throughout Afghanistan. The mission of PRTs involve locally grounded engagement linking security and community assistance as a central means of supporting the larger counterinsurgency model. Humanitarian activities as undertaken by PRTs attempt provide stability to civilians that they might otherwise turn toward an insurgent group to find. Ideally, PRTs should understand the factors that cause individual and group insurgency against a state and utilize that knowledge when attempting to address the conflict that results. This study focuses on the successes and shortcomings of the Jalalabad PRT and their implementation of a new project development model in the Nangarhar province in Afghanistan in 2006. It was successful because it directly worked to remediate the underlying causes of insurgency as proposed by the technocratic conceit, with a focus on improved water sanitation and sewage, agriculture, and basic infrastructure. It was unsuccessful because it failed to promote local ownership, the development of a community identity, or a methodology to measure the effectiveness and impact of its projects.

According to the lessons from the conflict literature, the Jalalabad PRT’s actions only partly reduced the factors that lead to individual and group defection into an insurgent group.
In actively working to incorporate the lessons from the conflict literature into the Jalalabad PRT project development model, PRTs will more aptly and successfully achieve their stated goals of providing stability, reconstruction, and security. Without addressing the potential other underlying causes of insurgency, however, U.S. PRTs are unable to produce measurable, empirical reductions to insurgency in Afghanistan.

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Date Created
2019-05

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Mobilizing Narratives: Comparing Afghan Hazaras in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Bangladeshis in Islamist Groups

Description

While recruitment of middle and upper-class Bangladeshis by Islamic jihadist terror groups and Iranian mobilization of Afghan Hazaras to fight in the Syrian civil war present two extremely different regional challenges, this study shows how these movements are linked in

While recruitment of middle and upper-class Bangladeshis by Islamic jihadist terror groups and Iranian mobilization of Afghan Hazaras to fight in the Syrian civil war present two extremely different regional challenges, this study shows how these movements are linked in the ways in which state and non-state actors deploy similar narrative strategies to mobilize support. I argue that narratives that capitalize upon the failure of upward social mobility and governance failures are highly useful for recruiting individuals to join either state or non-state organizations when appropriately and specifically linked to the particular historical, cultural, and political environment. I will demonstrate this by comparing and contrasting the use of recruitment narratives playing off of grievances for Iran's IRGC recruitment of poor Afghan Hazaras with low-levels of formal educational achievement and Islamist terrorist groups’ recruitment of middle- and upper-class Bangladeshis. The study argues that while the contexts and life experiences between IRGC Hazara and Bangladeshi terror group recruits are quite distinct, they are similarly motivated by narratives that emphasize the creation of a strong ideological and religious community based on alienation defined by a lack of desired and expected upward social mobility and profound failures of basic governance.

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Date Created
2020-05

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The Detrimental Effects of the U.S-Israel Relationship

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I argue that the relationship between the United States and Israel has harmed the United States, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Middle East. For the United States section, I support this argument by discussing the corruption of AIPAC,

I argue that the relationship between the United States and Israel has harmed the United States, the Palestinians, and the rest of the Middle East. For the United States section, I support this argument by discussing the corruption of AIPAC, national debt, anti-American sentiment in the Middle East, NSA spying and surveillance and the effects of the Iraq War. For the Palestinian section, I support this argument by discussing how the war crimes committed against the Palestinians are done with weapons supplied to Israel by the United States. Lastly, I go over how the rest of the Middle East is harmed by this by discussing how the Iraq War has affected the Iraqis there and how the Libyan regime change affected the people in Libya.

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Date Created
2017-05

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A Strategic Analysis on the Effectiveness of Russian Information Warfare

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Though information warfare has been around for centuries, the advent of the Information Age has made this type of warfare increasingly utilized by both state and non-state actors to varying effects in conflicts across the world. Technological advances have ignited

Though information warfare has been around for centuries, the advent of the Information Age has made this type of warfare increasingly utilized by both state and non-state actors to varying effects in conflicts across the world. Technological advances have ignited increases in computing power, information computerization, the proliferation of powerful information technology, and communication speeds. This study investigates Russian information warfare doctrine- specifically, the tactics employed in information warfare campaigns and the effects of such campaigns. The Russian hybrid warfare campaigns in Ukraine and Syria will serve as the focal case studies. I argue that Russian information warfare doctrine is inelastic, in that the core tactics used do not change in different conflicts. This study will dissect Russian information warfare principles, provide an overview of the Russian political objectives in both battlespaces, analyze the effectiveness of information warfare tactics when applied in two different engagement spheres, and will explore the reasons why the same tactics had different effects. The study finds that doctrinally identical information warfare tactics were used in both Ukraine and Syria. To provide further significance, the study discusses the policy implications that static Russian information warfare doctrine has regarding the future of information warfare in conflict.

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2017-05

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US DRONE POLICY AND THE PROJECTION OF FORCE: AN INVESTIGATION OF DEMOCRATIC CONSTRAINTS

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This paper examines the development of United States drone policy outside of traditional battle zones. It poses the question of why do states use drones as a projection of force? In particular, the paper examines the expansion of the drone

This paper examines the development of United States drone policy outside of traditional battle zones. It poses the question of why do states use drones as a projection of force? In particular, the paper examines the expansion of the drone program within a system of democratic checks and balances. It looks at the effect that political and legal influences have had on the expansion of the drone program and hypothesizes that the presence of these constraints should increase drone use outside of traditional battle zones. In order to investigate this hypothesis, the paper looks at data on drone strikes from Yemen and Somalia. The data partially supports the hypothesis as there has not been a clear linear increase in the number of drone strikes in each of these countries. Nevertheless, an examination of the surrounding literature regarding political and legal influences within these countries seems to favorably point to the increase of drone operations. Future research, however, needs to be cognizant of the limitations in gathering specific statistics on drone operations as these operations are covert. It's also important to understand how the covert nature of the drone operations impacts issues regarding political oversight and legality. Lastly, it's important to constantly examine the broader implications drone policy has for US policy.

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2015-05

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Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo, or The Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda (2005): Self-Defense and the Duty of Vigilance as Ineffective Tools of Resolution in Customary International Law

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Abstract Upon review of complex ethnic conflict over the past century in the Great Lakes region, the 2005 Opinion of the Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo does not properly acknowledge the conflict's complexity, and thus

Abstract Upon review of complex ethnic conflict over the past century in the Great Lakes region, the 2005 Opinion of the Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo does not properly acknowledge the conflict's complexity, and thus fails in applying customary international law to the allegations under dispute. Both concepts of self-defense and the violation of the duty of vigilance are found particularly restrictive, and their application by the ICJ does not recognize realities. The thesis is laid out to provide context for the dispute, followed by consideration of the historical circumstances that shaped the ethnic, political, and economic reality of the Second Congo War. Finally the paper will begin an inquiry into self-defense and the duty of vigilance as unequipped legal concepts to consider the atypical conflict. I. Introduction II. The Dispute: The Second Congo War III. Overview of Case Concerning Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo IV. Lack of Recognition for Historical Background V. Contentious Handlings of Concepts of International Law a. Self-Defense: Questionable Criteria b. Breaches of International Obligations: Duty of Vigilance in Armed Activities VI. Conclusion

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Date Created
2014-05

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An analysis of how narcocorridos portray the political sociology of the Mexican Drug cartels in Mexican society

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Since the collapse of the Medellin Cartel in Colombia in 1993, the Mexican drug cartels have been increasing in strength and international presence. Along with the organization's political and economic involvement, a deeply rooted culture has been developing. Three distinct

Since the collapse of the Medellin Cartel in Colombia in 1993, the Mexican drug cartels have been increasing in strength and international presence. Along with the organization's political and economic involvement, a deeply rooted culture has been developing. Three distinct time periods define this culture: pre-Medellin Cartel collapse (1970s-1993), post-Medellin Cartel Collapse (1993-2006) and post-President Calderon's Drug War announcement (2006-present day). More specifically, the history and fascination with the cartel is documented in songs, known as narcocorridos, which celebrate and support the drug cartels. The science of political sociology addresses the power relationship that exists between a state, its citizens, and the state's social groups. This study investigates the political sociology of each period, specifically how society viewed the cartel and their roles within the cartel. I argue that the narcocorridos accurately describe the evolution of narcoculture in Mexican society. This study consists of analyses of narcocorrido song lyrics, the political sociology of each time period, and finally, the societal perception of the drug cartel. First, I will evaluate the most popular songs' lyrics of the three defining time periods in the Mexican Drug Cartel history. Next, I will analyze the lyrics and determine whether or not they accurately reflect the political sociological features of the time period. Last, I will discuss what the societal perceptions of being associated with the cartel were during each time period. This study concludes by hypothesizing what the future of narcocorriodos will be. This prediction will demonstrate how the songs will continue to reflect the political sociology of the time period, including the societal attitudes towards the cartel.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Between War and Peace: Why Some Congo Narratives Evolve and Others Remain Entrenched

Description

Despite regional peace agreements, billions of dollars in aid, and the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission in the world, conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo persists. This paper explores criticisms made by political scientist Séverine Autesserre, who

Despite regional peace agreements, billions of dollars in aid, and the United Nations’ largest peacekeeping mission in the world, conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo persists. This paper explores criticisms made by political scientist Séverine Autesserre, who argues that three simplistic narratives revolving around conflict minerals as a cause, sexual abuse against women and girls as an outcome, and rebuilding central state control as the solution dominate how international interveners view the Congolese conflict. Autesserre further posits that conflict continues because peacebuilding efforts fail to address local dynamics. Using monitoring and evaluation reports of peacebuilding projects in the eastern Congo, primarily from the U.S. Agency for International Development, this paper examines three questions: Do aid agencies have any local peacebuilding projects? If so, do these projects reinforce the dominant narratives? And lastly, do these projects view conflict as a continuum that must be managed through process-oriented objectives, or as a binary phenomenon requiring events-oriented objectives, such as elections? The analysis is based on 10 total reports gathered online, the majority of which are from USAID. Due to a lack of publicly available data and M&E reports on Congo peacebuilding, this collection does not represent a random sample and is not being used to make statistically significant conclusions. Nevertheless, the M&E reports provide a window into how the “rubber meets the road,” so to speak, in terms of how USAID and others view the role of their peacebuilding programs and how to assess programmatic success.

These reports reveal there are certainly some local peacebuilding programs and they do appear to view conflict as a continuum requiring process-oriented goals, such as creating local community mediation organizations. In terms of Autesserre’s three dominant narratives, the results are more mixed. This assortment of seemingly contradictory findings does not mean Autesserre’s arguments are invalid. The USAID Congo Country Strategy document unlocks this apparent contradiction as it explicitly acknowledges Autesserre’s criticisms and appears to move toward finding more nuanced approaches to the conflict. However, at times it still emphasizes the same dominant narratives and state-to-state level approaches. This paper, therefore, concludes that USAID, and potentially others, are in a state of transition between entrenched and evolving narratives. The discord in these evaluations highlights the internal crisis peacebuilders in the Congo are currently facing as they reassess their narratives. In keeping with the self-improving nature of M&E, hopefully these international interveners can move through their narrative transition in an efficient manner, so that they can remain a supportive peacebuilding partner to the Congolese people.

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2016-05

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An Analysis of the Role of Human Rights Treaty Reservations in International Law

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This paper examines five different human rights treaties in order to test the role of reservations in international law. Through the creation of a typology of reservations, which include Domestic Framework, Minor Objection, Oversight, Cultural, Political, and Negation Reservations, this

This paper examines five different human rights treaties in order to test the role of reservations in international law. Through the creation of a typology of reservations, which include Domestic Framework, Minor Objection, Oversight, Cultural, Political, and Negation Reservations, this paper tests the typology against three hypotheses: 1) reservations weaken international law, 2) reservations are neutral to international law, and 3) reservations strengthen international law. By classifying reservations on this spectrum of hypotheses, it became possible to determine whether reservations help or hinder the international human rights regime. The most utilized types of reservations were Domestic Framework Reservations, which demonstrates treaty reservations allow for states to engage with the treaties, thus strengthening international law. However, because the reservations also demonstrate a lack of willingness to be bound by an external oversight body, reservations also highlight a flaw of international law. CEDAW proved to be a general outlier because it had 2-6 times the amount of negation and cultural reservations, which could potentially be attributed to the more societal, as opposed to legal, adjustments required of States Parties.

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Date Created
2014-05

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HIV/AIDS in Ghana and Western Africa: a Thematic Analysis of Governmental Responses to the Epidemic within ECOWAS

Description

This research evaluates the national HIV/AIDS policy of Ghana and compares it to the policies of other countries in the Economic Community of West African States.

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Date Created
2013-05