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Development at Gunpoint?

Why Civilians Must Reclaim Stabilization Aid

Courtesy Reuters

The current multibillion-dollar campaign to counter transnational terrorism, defeat insurgencies, and stabilize fragile states blends diplomacy, defense, and development. A principal tool in this vast effort is humanitarian and development assistance -- what has come to be known as militarized aid. Flows of aid to fragile states have grown significantly over the past decade and are increasingly concentrated on a few frontline countries. The rhetoric of foreign assistance policymakers is infused with terminology derived from national security and counterterrorism doctrine. Defense ministries now control vast aid budgets.

Militarized aid is delivered by soldiers or private contractors at the behest of a political-military leadership. In Afghanistan, for example, the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) weld military, aid agency, and contractor components to multiply force where, in the words of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, ”the U.S. military’s ability to kick down the door [must be] matched by its ability

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