Date of Award

Fall 2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Robert Pauly Jr.

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Dr. Edward Sayre

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Dr. Joseph J. St. Marie

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 4

Dr. Tom Lansford

Committee Member 4 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Abstract

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, foreign aid has focused on winning public hearts and minds in the aid recipient states as a hedge against insecurity and means to achieve progress in the “war on terror.” Western donors, especially the United States, argue foreign aid is an effective tool to expand government capacity and control over territory, win public hearts and minds, and ultimately mitigate the need and significant military costs of deployment to counter insecurity, extremism, and terrorism in weak, fragile and failing states.

This dissertation uses case studies to explore the unique relationship between foreign aid and winning public hearts and minds in the aid recipient countries of Afghanistan (2001-2017), Iraq (2003-2017), Bosnia and Herzegovina (1995-2017), and Kosovo (1999-2017). This research uses data from surveys and public opinion polls conducted by reliable national and international organizations in the four cases under consideration in order to address two research questions. First, does foreign aid increase positive public attitudes toward the donor(s) of the foreign aid in an aid recipient country? Second, does foreign aid increase positive public attitudes toward the state in an aid recipient country? The research findings suggest foreign aid is not positively associated with an increase in positive public attitudes toward the donors and the aid recipient states and has fallen short of winning public hearts and minds in these four cases. These findings, however, do not suggest that foreign aid is not a viable tool in winning public hearts and minds toward the state, donors and the “war on terror” in the aid recipient states, but should be seen rather as an evaluation of the current state of knowledge, peace and state building measures and should guide scholarly debate and policy on exploring alternative approaches to state and peacebuilding outside the existing top-down approaches. Implications for policymakers and development practitioners are that state legitimacy, service delivery, winning post-conflict peace, and political corruption influence public positive and negative attitudes and winning public hearts and minds toward the state and donors in aid recipient states.

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