Hearts and minds cannot be bought: Ineffective reconstruction in Afghanistan

Travers Barclay Child


Recent work has suggested the foreign-led reconstruction effort carried out in Afghanistan and Iraq can mitigate violence because it helps win the “hearts and minds” of local people. For the case of Afghanistan, we show there is no evidence behind such an assertion. Analyzing unique data on Commander’s Emergency Response Program (CERP) spending across the country from 2005 to 2009, we find no discernible effect of the reconstruction effort on violence. In light of the absence of empirical evidence for the success of the CERP, we suggest the hearts and minds credo currently guiding U.S. policy be reconsidered. [D74, H56, O1]


Conflict; reconstruction; insurgency; development

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15355/epsj.9.2.43


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