Dotan A. Haim, University of California San Diego
"Civilian Social Networks and Credible Counterinsurgency"
How do civilian social networks influence the effectiveness of counterinsurgency? I posit that counterinsurgents’ ability to win civilian “hearts and minds” and elicit useful information about insurgents is driven in large part by information about counterinsurgent credibility that flows through civilian social networks. Civilian perceptions of local military control, as well as the government’s commitment to economic service provision, are shaped not only by what they observe in their own village, but also by the experiences of their friends and family members in the surrounding area. To test this argument, I use newly collected data on 1) family ties between over 55 million individuals in 42,000 Philippine villages, 2) village-level insurgent presence (from military intelligence reports) and 3) counterinsurgency-related development projects. I find that counterinsurgency efforts were significantly more effective at reducing insurgent presence when civilians in targeted villages had family ties to other nearby villages that received development projects. Counterinsurgency efforts were less effective when civilians in targeted villages had family ties to other nearby villages affected by insurgents.