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Peacebuilding and Violent Crime in Post-War Kosovo: A Quantitative Analysis

April 1, 2016

Without basic public order, post-war policymaking in the political, social, and economic sectors is extraordinarily difficult. Indeed, reestablishing public order after civil war has been called the sine qua non of post-war recovery. Yet there have been few quantitative analyses of historical attempts to establish public order after civil war. What factors shape the ability of peacebuilders to establish public order after civil war? What are the determinants of institutional effectiveness in the post-war security sector? Are local or international authorities better able to deter and respond to crime and more violent types of public disorder? Using new data gathered during field research in Kosovo, this article conducts a quantitative analysis of the economic, geographic, social, and security factors that contributed to patterns of violent crime in that disputed territory. These analyses are informed by qualitative field research, including interviews with security sector actors in Kosovo. The findings are striking. Poverty, rough terrain, and ethnic heterogeneity were not good predictors of violent crime in post-war Kosovo. Instead, international police and local police deployments are highly correlated with violent crime rates. Most importantly, the new local police authorities were very effective at reducing crime rates: Kosovo Police Service (KPS) deployments had a significant and large downward effect on murder rates and explosives attack rates in Kosovo. For each additional KPS officer per 1,000 residents, a region recorded on average .016 to .019 fewer murders per 1,000 residents. This effect translated to between three and nine fewer murders annually in a region. Kosovo regions recorded between six and 18 fewer IED attacks annually, for each additional KPS officer per 1,000 residents. These findings indicate the lasting effectiveness of well-resourced, intensive peacebuilding efforts focused on establishing local, professional security sector institutions.


Political order in post-war Libya: Armed groups, weak institutions, jihadist spoilers, and incentives for de-escalation

March 15, 2016


Libya after Qadhafi provides an interesting case study for how the structure of post-war environments shape the decisions of political factions with varied resources and organizational capacities. In Libya, the structure created incentives for de-escalation during the dozens of violent skirmishes that took place from 2011 to 2014 that, in other contexts, could easily have tipped into civil war. Only in early 2014 did incentives favouring de-escalation shift, leading the main groups to fracture the transition and pursue military strategies to achieve their aims. This article provides an analytic narrative for the stalemate in post-war Libya and its collapse.

Who am I?

March 12, 2016


International Relations / International Security / African, Middle Eastern & Balkan Politics

Highly-motivated, professional, and creative social scientist, policy analyst, and political risk consultant. Experienced at organizing long-term political research projects, including organizing and presenting at conferences.

Political methodologist highly skilled in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method approaches to political and social science. Analyst of political trends and demographics.

Subject matter expert on international political, economic, social, military, and security issues. Skilled evaluator of academic literatures, foreign electronic and print media, expert reports, non-governmental organization sources, US and foreign government documents, personal interviews, and electronic databases.

Highly proficient at ferreting out data from unusual and unconventional sources, applying new social science methodologies, and developing insights from these data for political analysis.

Excellent written and oral communications skills. Able to present complex concepts, policies, data, and research to a wide variety of technical and non-technical audiences, including senior-level officials and the general public. Able to write timely, policy-relevant reports in a variety of long and short formats.

Experience supervising and managing research teams, organizing meetings, training employees, and teaching students. Able to liaison across the policy, security, and intelligence communities.

Experience providing advice, guidance, and consultation based on results from the analysis of complex, cross-sector issues and data.

Trends and Impacts Issue No. 4 Protracted Conflict and Development in the Arab Region

November 15, 2015


The Arab region is presently beset by armed civil conflict, one of the most profoundly devastating social phenomena in the modern world. This study examines the relationships between conflict and development. Today, at least half of the Arab States are affected directly or indirectly by armed conflicts of varying intensity, yet little is known about the effects of conflict on household behaviour and poverty.

The study examines the mounting evidence from conflict-affected countries, which suggests that conflicts seriously undermine citizens’ health and welfare, economic growth, political systems, and respect for human rights. Furthermore, it highlights a number of significant development challenges facing the Arab region, including an ever-increasing refugee population and a youth bulge. The study advocates that these factors could prove particularly problematic for Governments that are increasingly unable to generate employment and dignified livelihoods for youth. While, in general, there is no statistical effect of unemployment rates on conflict, this study confirms the significant relationship between unemployment, lack of opportunities for youth and conflict intensity in the Arab region. Growing conflict intensity is inseparably linked to increasing levels of unemployment.

Dissertation: Peacebuilding, Political Order, and Post-War Risks

August 31, 2015


Since 1945, violent conflict has occurred primarily within sovereign states rather than among them. These internal conflicts have far surpassed international conflicts in lethality, economic destruction, and social upheaval. Intense violent conflicts often leave core state institutions debilitated, fragmented, or, in some cases, totally destroyed. For these societies, the central tasks for ending conflict and beginning post-war recovery involve reinvigorating or reestablishing legitimate state authority. These post-war states must both win the acquiescence of the governed and develop the infrastructural power to implement state policy. The immediate post-war environment is therefore particularly critical for determining the political, economic, and social trajectories of conflict-affected countries. The right combination of policies can help determine whether a country recovers quickly and secures any available peace dividend, or whether it relapses and slides into a conflict trap. This dissertation explains how societies that have managed to end their civil wars are able or unable to rebuild political order in the their post-war period.

The Crisis in North Africa: Implications for Europe and Options for EU Policymakers

April 1, 2015


The Arab Spring dramatically transformed the strategic environment on Europe’s southern border. Long-tenured autocrats in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia – brutal as they may have been to their own citizens – had brought a measure of stability and predictability to the Mediterranean. But tumultuous political developments since the leaders of all three countries fell in 2011 have created a range of new threats that European policymakers will be forced to address in the years to come.

In Beirut

March 15, 2015

I’ve taken a job at the UN Office in Beirut. The blog will be on hiatus for the time being!

George Endorses Libby Schaaf for Mayor of Oakland!

October 30, 2014

Even though I am in political exile in Maryland, my friends often ask me who to vote for in Oakland. (I grew up in Oakland, lived there a long time, and have worked on political campaigns there. My thoughts on our city are here.)

Here are my endorsements for mayor, in Ranked Choice Order.

1) Libby Schaaf

Libby Schaaf is by far the most qualified, best experienced, and most capable candidate in the field. She worked for Jerry Brown, she’s currently councilor for District 4, and she has a lifetime of diligent work in Oakland in various non-profit, for-profit, and volunteer settings.

I’ve read her plans to improve public safety in Oakland, and I can say that it is superlative. She’s put a lot of thought into it, she’s done her homework, she’s asking all the right questions. I have some expertise in this field: my academic research focuses (in part) on post-conflict policing, reforms to police systems, and the reintegration of former combatants into society. Gang-related crime is part of this picture.

Libby has a well-thought out, deeply researched, achievable plan to reduce crime and improve our community in Oakland. That alone is a huge achievement. Her other ideas and policies you can find on her website.

She’s my top choice.  After Libby, there are a handful of capable candidates, none of whom I know personally, or know much about.

2) Bryan Parker has managed to pull together a good coalition, and is endorsed by people I trust. He doesn’t have any experience in elected office.

3) Courtney Ruby always struck me as a diligent public servant who wasn’t afraid to rattle some cages and speak truth to power at City Hall.

4) Joe Tuman has a lot of support in the hills, and he seems like a genuine, nice guy. He’s also an academic, which is a plus in my book.

5-13) The rest of the field. Thank ranked choice voting for encouraging as many people to run as possible, then preventing a run off race in which the last two battle it out, and where a ton of info would be revealed to the voters.

14) Jean Quan. I’ve said enough about Jean Quan and Oakland on this blog before.

15) Rebecca Kaplan. After graduating Stanford Law in 1998, Rebecca Kaplan almost immediately starting running for office as a Green Party champion. In 2000 she ran for city council and lost. Then she worked as a public transit advocate for short period, then won election to the AC Transit Board, where she was embroiled in a pay-for-play scandal about buying new buses. Then she won election to city council with almost no record. Then she ran for mayor with almost no record. Then she ran for city council again with almost no record. Then she ran for mayor again with almost no record.  She’s been running for office almost non-stop for 14 years.

I don’t begrudge someone for having deep pockets and being able to run for office again and again and again.

What I do mind is an elected official who has done nothing with that privilege. Kaplan has accomplished virtually nothing except get herself elected and reelected and reelected. That’s not just my opinion, but the conventional wisdom in Oakland among people who pay attention to this stuff. Unfortunately, she’s the front-runner. But please don’t put her in any of your three choices.

Tallyrand said of the Bourbon Restoration: “They learned nothing, but remembered everything.” Except he said it in French.

We’ve had two failed mayors in a row. I really hope Oakland voters have learned something, are willing to get over the past, and are ready to move our city forward.

Need to start blogging again.

September 10, 2014

I’m nearing the end of my dissertation, and entering the job market!  Which means that folks will start googling my name. Which means that I need to update the blog.  Please check back often!

Moral Failures in Oakland

November 12, 2011

As Oakland prepares to clear Frank Ogawa Plaza of the vestigial remnants of the Occupy Oakland protests, thoughtful members of the political class in my fair city would be wise to reflect on what got us to this low point.  Anyone who has been to a protest in the Bay Area since, say, 2000, and anyone with a pulse living in Oakland over the past five years knew that the Black Bloc would take over the protest, with disastrous consequences for the city, for the Occupy movement itself, and for individuals caught up in the crossfire.  It was completely predictable to everyone, except our mayor and her claqueurs among the professional activist-entsia.  And then the Quan adminstration– also completely predictably– bungled the response.  Anyone with a pulse in Oakland would also know that her adminstration would be brutally incompetent.  She’s holds much (or all) responsibility for Ebonics, the OUSD bankruptcy, the city being on the verge of municipal bankruptcy, the Dellums administration, the loss of Chief Batts, and much more.

Given the epic and now patently obvious failures of this administration, and of the last– both of which were championed by this small but vocal group of activists– you might expect this segment of Oakland’s political class to rend their garments, tear at their hair, and beg forgiveness from their fellow citizens for inflicting such incompetence on our city.

You would be mistaken.

In Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the protagonist Tomas writes an essay castigating the Communist leadership and its supporters after the Prague Spring in 1968 Czechoslovakia.  The intelligentsia that supported the Communist regime between the end of World War II and the Prague Spring claimed that they were innocent of the crimes perpetrated by this regime, because they could not have known things would turn out badly.[1]  They claim innocence; they claim their ignorance absolves them of any sins.

Tomas contrasts this attitude with the myth of Oedipus.  Oedipus did not know that the man he killed in the wilderness was his father; he did not know that the widowed Queen he married was his mother.  Yet when he finds out the truth, his ignorance does not diminish the overwhelming shame he feels.  He stabs out his eyes, and exiles himself from his kingdom.

In the case of the intelligentsia in Kundera’s novel, they at least recognize that a moral crime has been committed; they simply try to evade guilt.  In Oakland, the folks who brought us Quan and Dellums have simply circled the wagons.  In the immortal words of Sergeant Schultz: “they see nothing, they hear nothing, they know nothing.”


[1] This is not as far-fetched as it sounds to 21st century ears.  Communists had a great reserve of moral credibility after WWII.  Communists were one of the few organized political groups that had boldly resisted Fascism and Nazism from the beginning.  And at the beginning of the post-war era, these regimes had yet to take on their darker characteristics.  By 1968, there was no longer any ambiguity about the evil of these regimes.