Author Archives: Ben Oppenheim

About Ben Oppenheim

Ph.D. candidate in the Travers Department of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Simpson Fellow at Berkeley’s Institute of International Studies. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of state fragility and internal conflict, as well as the intersection of development interventions and conflict dynamics. Ben has worked with non-profits, international organizations, and social enterprises on the design and evaluation of aid programs, organizational learning, and strategy.

Community and Counterinsurgency

Over the past two decades, community development has re-emerged as a central mechanism for delivering aid, particularly in conflict areas. Practitioners view community development as a tool to empower citizens while making state institutions more responsive and accountable. Oppenheim argues that the operational elements that advance these objectives—locally elected village councils, supported by resource transfers and technical assistance from state agencies—have an important latent function: to extend the state’s reach into the village. When injected into an active insurgency, the operations and premises of community development may mirror key elements of civil counterinsurgency. Insurgent organizations may read community development as an effort to contest control of the grassroots.