This award funded empirical research to evaluate the impact of military and civic action programs of the United States in Vietnam, on a wide range of security, political and economic outcomes. The main outcomes of our project were as follows.
--We curated a rich dataset of Vietnamese security, governance, and economic outcomes. This includes variables from different datasets we curated for the project such as the Hamlet Evaluation System, the Pacification Attitudes and Analysis Survey, Situation Report Army, Vietnam Database, Territorial Forces Evaluation System, Territorial Forces Activity Reporting System, and Naval Surveillance Activities File. The dataset is available to the public through our personal academic websites or the Quarterly Journal of Economic’s Dataverse website.
--The findings from our analysis were published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (Volume 133, Issue 2, 1 May 2018, Pages 701–764) in an article titled "Nation Building Through Foreign Intervention: Evidence from Discontinuities in Military Strategies." We conduct two types of analyses. First, we rely on an algorithm used to allocate airstrikes to estimate the effect of bombing. We find that bombing increased the military and political activities of the communist insurgency, weakened local governance, and reduced non-communist civic engagement. Second, we compare neighboring military regions, which pursued different counterinsurgency strategies. We find that a strategy emphasizing overwhelming firepower plausibly increased insurgent attacks and worsened attitudes towards the U.S. and South Vietnamese government, relative to a civic action (hearts and minds) oriented approach. These findings not only represent an important contribution to the academic literature on foreign intervention, but also have important policy implications.
--We disseminated our findings to a wide audience of academic and policy practitioners in economics, political science and security studies in seminars and conferences across the United States, Europe and Latin America. We also attempted to reach a broader audience through non-technical summaries in VoxEU and the Cato Research Brief.