Civil conflict and political instability create some of the greatest problems facing the global community today. My research develops strategies for resolving these core issues by applying empirical and microeconomic methods to the study of counterterror, counterinsurgency, and economic development. My research is structured around three central questions: Why do individuals support militant groups? How do insurgent groups organize and operate? And how do multiple insurgent groups, counterinsurgents, and the global community influence each other and the characteristics of conflict?
Job Market PaperManaging Terror PDF
This paper analyzes al Qaeda in Iraq's (AQI's) 2007 decision to begin turning away foreign fighters. Foreign fighters can provide benefit to an insurgent group by introducing a novel set of preferences. This paper shows formally that if foreign fighters are effectively integrated into the group, then they can constrain domestic agents and prevent agency type problems. However, this ability to integrate foreign fighters effectively is endogenous to the counterinsurgency effort the insurgent group faces. Through a cross-case analysis, this paper suggests that AQI's 2007 decision was a consequence of its security environment. The model also has general implications for counterinsurgency, implying that operations that target or isolate leadership can be used to create intra-group dysfunction. This paper empirically demonstrates this result, showing the killing of Abu Zarqawi disrupted AQI's leadership and caused agency problems within the group. As a theoretical contribution, this paper introduces a novel contracting mechanism that formalizes strategic institution design; this organizational contract shows that organizational structure is not only useful for defining operational units, but also can be a tool for resolving agency problems.