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Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province

Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province

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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, and by “winning hearts and minds” undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This third Afghanistan provincial case study examines the use of aid, including "Quick Impact Projects" (QIPS), from 2006-08 to attempt to produce stability in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most insecure and which has been a major focus of financial and human resources.

Insecurity in Helmand was found to be largely the result of the way the post-2001 distribution of power and resources favored certain tribal groups at the expense of others. Winners in this "carve-up" consolidated their positions in part through predatory taxation, political influence, and violence, as well as the use of development funding as patronage. Those who were losers in this were made vulnerable to Taliban infiltration and offers of protection. Additional grievances were provided by uneven eradication of opium poppy, the inability of the international community to stop the predatory behavior, and civilian casualties and other consequences of NATO military activity.

The study highlights the challenges inherent in using aid as an instrument of security policy. The "ink spot" strategy intended to create islands of security which would then spread to outlying areas relied upon a stabilization program that appeared to have little traction in the areas outside of the main towns. The author concludes that the stabilization model focused on the wrong drivers of conflict – on the lack of development and government presence rather than on poor governance and insecurity.

The findings have implications for the effectiveness of aid projects as a stabilization tool. This provincial case study is the fourth of five anticipated case studies, and is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives. The research has been generously supported by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, and the governments of Australia, Norway and Sweden.

The study is available for download at https://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=44797077.
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, and by “winning hearts and minds” undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This third Afghanistan provincial case study examines the use of aid, including "Quick Impact Projects" (QIPS), from 2006-08 to attempt to produce stability in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most insecure and which has been a major focus of financial and human resources.

Insecurity in Helmand was found to be largely the result of the way the post-2001 distribution of power and resources favored certain tribal groups at the expense of others. Winners in this "carve-up" consolidated their positions in part through predatory taxation, political influence, and violence, as well as the use of development funding as patronage. Those who were losers in this were made vulnerable to Taliban infiltration and offers of protection. Additional grievances were provided by uneven eradication of opium poppy, the inability of the international community to stop the predatory behavior, and civilian casualties and other consequences of NATO military activity.

The study highlights the challenges inherent in using aid as an instrument of security policy. The "ink spot" strategy intended to create islands of security which would then spread to outlying areas relied upon a stabilization program that appeared to have little traction in the areas outside of the main towns. The author concludes that the stabilization model focused on the wrong drivers of conflict – on the lack of development and government presence rather than on poor governance and insecurity.

The findings have implications for the effectiveness of aid projects as a stabilization tool. This provincial case study is the fourth of five anticipated case studies, and is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives. The research has been generously supported by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, and the governments of Australia, Norway and Sweden.

The study is available for download at https://wikis.uit.tufts.edu/confluence/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=44797077.

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Published by: Feinstein International Center on May 04, 2011
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05/12/2014

 
Strengthening the humanity and dignity of people in crisis through knowledge and practice
Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid andSecurity in Aghanistan’s Helmand Province
April 2011
Stuart Gordon
 
©2011 Feinstein International Center. All Rights Reserved.Fair use o this copyrighted material includes its use or non-commercial educationalpurposes, such as teaching, scholarship, research, criticism, commentary, and newsreporting. Unless otherwise noted, those who wish to reproduce text and image flesrom this publication or such uses may do so without the Feinstein InternationalCenter’s express permission. However, all commercial use o this material and/orreproduction that alters its meaning or intent, without the express permission o theFeinstein International Center, is prohibited.Feinstein International CenterTuts University200 Boston Ave., Suite 4800Medord, MA 02155USAtel: +1 617.627.3423ax: +1 617.627.3428fc.tuts.edu
 
Author
Stuart Gordon is a research ellow o the International Security andGlobal Health Security Programs at the Royal Institute o InternationalAairs, Chatham House, London.
Acknowledgements
While responsibility or any errors in interpretation and analysis remainthe responsibility o the author, thanks are particularly due to AndrewWilder, Paul Fishstein, Amanda Gordon, Rory Donohoe, MarlinHardinger, Bjorn Muller-Wille, Sean McKnight, Francis Toase,Deborah Palmer, Assadullah Waa, Haji Pir Mohammad, HajiMohammed Khan, Ghulam Jelani Popal, Haji Kaduz, Haji Zaher,Abdul Mana Khan, Said Ali Shah, Mullah Daoud, Said Dur Ali Shah,Haji Mana, Major General Andrew Mackay, Colonel Stuart Sessions,Dan Jarman, Kim Kristensen, Peter Marsden, and Neil Cox. Thanksare also due to those who spoke on condition o anonymity.
Thank you
Funding or the research was provided by the Swedish InternationalDevelopment Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the Royal NorwegianMinistry o Foreign Aairs, AusAID, and Aghanistan Research andEvaluation Unit (AREU).
Cover photo
US military personnel treats Aghan girl or burns duringCivil Aairs Group patrolPhoto: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sta Sgt. William Greeson/Released
This case study represents the views o the author and not those o the individuals interviewed, the UK government, or its ministries.

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