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About this book

This book describes the common pitfalls of U.S. military interventions in efforts at stabilization, which supports post-conflict societies by establishing stable governance, rule of law, a safe and secure environment, economic development and social well-being for all members of the population. These efforts are often unsuccessful and can even cause harm when mission teams do not understand both the populations with whom they are engaging and policymakers. The book recommends prioritizing a relational approach to stabilization with a professional and well-resourced Civil Affairs and strategic intelligence approach to engagements over the current preference for transactional, often lethal operations.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Legitimacy and Governance in Stabilization

Understanding the sources of legitimacy within a state will enable those engaging in stabilization activities (Stabilizers) to identify what sort of alternative governance structures are likely to arise when the state does not have the trust of the population and how and whether to counter, coopt, or cooperate with them. Foreknowledge and situational understanding are likely to go a long way to reduce this tendency toward false promises, thus increasing the Stabilizer’s and the sovereign’s legitimacy before and after action and thus its likelihood of establishing long-term stability.
Diane E. Chido

Chapter 2. The Stabilization Trap

As stabilization is surely one of those “wicked problems,” whose dynamism causes it to evolve even as the solution is being identified, it is impossible here to determine what precise prescription should be applied to “fix” every insurgency or alternative governance structure that opposes or does not support the political framework for which Stabilizers advocate. There are some universal approaches that can be considered in tandem with in-depth, persistent assessments and deep knowledge of the historical, cultural, societal, economic, and political context of each area of interest.
Diane E. Chido

Chapter 3. Contemporary Vulnerabilities to Legitimacy

Whenever any governing authority fails to maintain the trust of its constituents, it essentially invites an alternative to step into the gap. Current literature on governance and legitimacy suggests the primary common factor that ensures popular support of authority in a given geographic location is trust, a belief in the consistent application of laws or expressed social mores across the territory. Vulnerabilities to legitimacy can be difficult to identify. This is where the true complexity lies. Lessons from lost legitimacy are rife in past insurgencies or alternative governance structures, or in coups and other attacks on nation states. The key to accurately identifying and analyzing these dynamics and getting ahead of them is in having a deep understanding of the grievances of the people joining an insurgency, opposing the host nation, or supporting the alternative governance structure.
Diane E. Chido

Chapter 4. Recommendations for Regaining Legitimacy

When policymakers determine that intervention to achieve stabilization is in the long-term national interest, they must ensure that those with the requisite skills and experience within the Civil Affairs and intelligence communities carefully study the conditions on the ground to truly understand the human geography, no matter how out of favor such a term may be. To gain that knowledge, a strategically poised Civil Affairs and strategic intelligence capability must persistently study these populations—how they think and why—before overt action is planned or executed.
Diane E. Chido


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