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Title: The $113 Billion Fight for Hearts and Minds: An Evaluation of Foreign Aid and Its Effects on Development and Violence in Afghanistan
Authors: Rappleye, Theodore
Advisors: Kapstein, Ethan
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: Foreign assistance to Afghanistan during the ongoing conflict has cost the nations of the world hundreds of billions of dollars and has led to the losses of many human lives. This assistance took two primary forms: counterinsurgency aid, which works to provide small projects in contested areas in order to win hearts and minds and undermine insurgents; and development aid, which works to improve quality of life on a national level by building the government’s capacity to provide essential services. The debate over which of the two forms is more effective and leads to lower levels of violence occurred before the 2001 invasion and remains unsettled. This thesis aims to contribute to the debate by comparing counterinsurgency aid to development aid using Afghanistan as a case study. Given counterinsurgency theory, the thesis posited three hypotheses: that more violent regions of Afghanistan would receive more aid; that development success would be more limited in more violent areas, but also that counterinsurgency aid would reduce violence over time; and that the aid programs that generate the least violence would be the smallest and least visible. Using a combination of simple quantitative analysis and assessments of the effects of two programs (Stability in Key Areas (SIKA), a counterinsurgency program, and the National Solidarity Program (NSP), a development initiative), the thesis finds that counterinsurgency aid concentrated in the most violent regions, while development aid had a more uniform distribution throughout the country. It also found that neither type of aid was effective in violent regions, with counterinsurgency aid often increasing to violence and increases in levels of support for the Taliban. Moreover, the size of projects was not relevant to the violence they generated; the projects that led to the most stability were the large long-term development initiatives. The thesis then discusses the implications of these findings for the literature and for future aid programs to Afghanistan and to other conflict zones.
Extent: 120 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Woodrow Wilson School, 1929-2016

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