When Bad States Win: Rethinking Counterinsurgency Strategy

This book project examines the effectiveness of indiscriminate violence against civilians as a means of suppressing a rebellion. Using a mixed methods approach, the results demonstrate that the gross violation of human rights against civilians is an effective strategy to defeat an insurgency. The findings challenge the conventional 'hearts & minds' approach employed by Western militaries. Given the global decline in democracies, the book suggests that human rights violations will only increase in the future.


Conflict, Security, & Development 21, no. 3 (2021): 337-370.

(co-author: Charles Gomez)

Abstract: The security debate concerning the recent wave of migrants into Europe has been contentious. This article examines the impact of recent migration flows into Europe and assesses the veracity of political rhetoric that migrants from Muslim states were reputedly responsible for the uptick in terrorist attacks. After conducting a series of quantitative tests that control for a variety of factors, we find little evidence that the increase in the number of migrants corresponded to an increase in terrorism during the European crisis. Our findings, therefore, contain important implications in terms of migration policy and counterterrorism tactics.

Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism 16, no. 2 (2021): 192-201.

Abstract: Deriving a definition of terrorism has long been a focus of both academics and policymakers, but there have been few attempts to establish a clear definition of right-wing terrorism and its relationship to other variants of political violence. This brief forum article surveys the extant literature to better understand how right-wing terrorism is conceptualised and highlights the necessity of establishing a coherent definition in order to more effectively inform counterterrorism policymaking.

Defence and Peace Economics 26, no. 5 (2015): 465-490.

(co-authors: Ying Deng, Chris Rohlfs, and Ryan Sullivan)

Abstract: This study investigates the effect that US medical personnel deaths in combat have on other unit deaths and ‘military success,’ which we measure using commendation medals as a proxy. We use a difference-in-differences identification strategy, measuring the changes over time in these outcomes following the combat loss of a medic or doctor and comparing it to the changes following the combat loss of a soldier who is not a medic or doctor. We find that overall unit deaths decrease in the five or ten days following the deaths of medical personnel in Vietnam, Korea, and the Pacific theater in World War II (WWII). In contrast, the WWII European and North African results indicate that overall unit deaths rise following medical personnel deaths. We find no relationship between medical personnel deaths and other unit deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan. For Korea and the Pacific theater of WWII, our
estimates suggest unit commendation medals decrease following the deaths of medical personnel. This pattern of evidence is consistent with a model in which units often halted aggressive tactical maneuvers and reduced pursuit of their military objectives until deceased medical personnel were replaced. The results for the other conflicts are mixed and show little connection between medical personnel deaths and commendation medals.

African Security Review 21, no. 3 (2012): 68-74.

Abstract: The Carnation Revolution on 25 April 1974 toppled the authoritarian regime in Lisbon. It is fallacious to conclude, however, that the 1974 coup d’état signaled Portugal’s defeat in the Colonial War. The status of each conflict on the eve of the Carnation Revolution varied, and it was by no means inevitable that Portugal would have been defeated in all three theatres had the coup not occurred. This brief research note therefore advances a novel approach to examining the Colonial War by assessing the outcomes prior to the 1974 coup. In particular, the author proposes that Portugal achieved military victory in Angola and Mozambique, but was defeated in Guinea-Bissau.

Comparative Strategy 31, no. 3 (2012): 235-252.

Abstract: The aim of this article is to obtain a better understanding of the outcomes of counterin- surgency warfare. It advances the hypothesis that the combined presence of a unified revolutionary force and external sanctuary will significantly increase the chances of victory for insurgents. The variables are tested against Portugal’s involvement in the Colonial War, accounting for Portuguese defeat in Guinea-Bissau. The article concludes by extending the hypothesis to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, determining that the ability of the United States to succeed in Afghanistan is limited unless it seals the border with Pakistan and weakens the unity of insurgent forces.

Joint Force Quarterly 53 (2009): 110-115.

Abstract: Beginning in early 2007, President Bush announced a 'surge' of American military forces into Iraq to stabilize the security environment in order to facilitate economic development and political reconciliation. A major component of the strategy entailed the delivery of essential services to the civilian population. This article highlights the importance of essential services as a counterinsurgency strategy and chronicles intergovernmental efforts that sought to improve social conditions in Baghdad.