COIN and Cash: The Use of Economic Aid in Conflict

By Rajiv Suresh. Stanford University.

The shift away from conventional to small-scale warfare has led to a search for effective solutions to such conflicts. One of the more popular tactics that has become relevant in the past century is the “hearts and minds” approach, specifically in counterinsurgency (COIN). “Hearts and Minds” counterinsurgency focuses on winning over the local population through aid projects and military security. Recently, there has been a substantial amount of criticism towards such aid projects, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a result, empirical studies have attempted to identify and assess the role of such aid projects in areas affected by insurgencies. This paper is organized as follows: In Section II, the “hearts and minds” approach is explained. In Sections III and IV, case studies are presented to demonstrate where the “heart and minds” tactic was effectively implemented (Vietnam and Iraq). In Section V, the criticisms of this strategy are outlined. In Section VI, recent findings and empirical studies are discussed. In Section VII, the use of humanitarian aid is discussed. Finally, in Section VIII possible conditions for successful use of the “hearts and minds” theory will be presented with possibilities for further study.

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