In the past decade, the United States and its allies have invested billions of dollars on assistance in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones. In Afghanistan, the U.S. Agency for International Development has implemented projects to help stabilize the country as part of a counterinsurgency strategy. Making sure that such efforts are effective is vital to national security and efficient spending. To evaluate such stabilization-related assistance, USAID commissioned a study by the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project at Princeton University. On June 21, USIP took a first look at the results, which can inform more effective stabilization work in future conflicts.

Among the findings of the forthcoming study is evidence that smaller, targeted projects tend to work better—an idea that will challenge policymakers to address how the U.S. government can best manage hundreds of smaller projects that are sensitive to local conditions amid a country at war. The study also finds that stabilization aid should account for the ways in which insurgents in a conflict are likely to undermine such projects. It also underscores that better data collection and monitoring are essential to calibrate stabilization activities to be most effective.

On June 21, USIP and USAID specialists on Afghanistan and stabilization efforts held a public discussion of this study which provides lessons to improve U.S. policies and practices in calming conflicts abroad that threaten U.S. security and international stability.

A recording of the event can be found on this event page.

Speakers

Andrew Wilder
Asia Center Vice President, USIP

William Byrd
Senior Expert-Afghanistan, USIP

Jason Foley
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan, USAID

Rob Jenkins
Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance, USAID

Radha Iyengar Plumb
Senior Economist, RAND

Related Publications

A Negotiated End to the Afghan Conflict

A Negotiated End to the Afghan Conflict

Monday, June 18, 2018

By: Borhan Osman

Despite widespread recognition that the only way toward ending the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan is a negotiated settlement, understanding of the Taliban’s thinking on the subject is remarkably scant. This report attempts to fill this gap by drawing on face-to-face interviews with Taliban foot soldiers, field commanders, and supporters to better understand the movement’s views on why they are fighting, what issues are negotiable, whether they have faith in negotiation as a way to peace, and what a peace process might look like.

Violent Extremism; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Iran and Afghanistan’s Long, Complicated History

Iran and Afghanistan’s Long, Complicated History

Thursday, June 14, 2018

By: Scott Worden; USIP Staff

As neighbors with a 585-mile frontier, Iran and Afghanistan have connections spanning centuries. Since 1979—the year of Iran’s revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—relations between Tehran and Kabul have ebbed and flowed. USIP’s Scott Worden discusses the complex relationship between the two countries, how Iran has built influence there, and where the U.S. and Iranian interests have overlapped in relation to Kabul.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications