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Kelly M. Greenhill

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Downloadable CV

Kelly M. Greenhill

Research Fellow, International Security Program

Telephone: 617-384-8065



Kelly M. Greenhill is a research fellow in the Belfer Center's International Security Program and an Associate Professor (with tenure) at Tufts University. Her research focuses on foreign policy, the use of military force, and what are frequently called "new security challenges," including civil wars; the use of forced migration as a weapon; intervention and (counter-) insurgency; and international crime as a challenge to domestic governance. She holds a Ph.D. and an S.M. from M.I.T., a C.S.S. from Harvard University, and a B.A. (with distinction and highest honors) in Political Economy and in Scandinavian Studies from the University of California at Berkeley. Greenhill serves as Chair of the Conflict, Security, and Public Policy Working Group at the Belfer Center's International Security Program and as Associate Editor of the journal International Security. She has previously held pre- and/or post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, at Columbia University's Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, and at the Belfer Center.

Professor Greenhill is author of Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion and Foreign Policy (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs), which was recipient of the 2011 International Studies Association's Best Book of the Year Award; and co-author and co-editor (with P. Andreas) of Sex, Drugs and Body Counts: The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict (Cornell University Press) and (with R. Art) of the eighth edition of The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics (R&L). Greenhill's research has also appeared in a variety of other venues, including the journals International Security, International Studies Quarterly, Security Studies, Civil Wars, European Law Journal, and International Migration, media outlets such as the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Foreign Affairs and the British Broadcasting Company, and in briefs prepared for the U.S. Supreme Court and other organs of the U.S. government. She is currently completing a new book, a cross-national study that explores why, when, and under what conditions, "extra-factual" sources of political information (EFI)—such as rumors, conspiracy theories, myths, and propaganda—materially influence the development and conduct of states' foreign and defense policies.

Greenhill's research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the MacArthur Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Eisenhower Foundation and the Neubauer Foundation. Outside of academia, Greenhill has served as a consultant to the Ford Foundation, to the World Bank and to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as a defense program analyst for the U.S. Department of Defense, and as an economic policy intern in the Office of then Senator John F. Kerry. She sits on the editorial boards of Sage Publications as well as the journals of Security Studies and the Journal of Global Security Studies. She previously served as Associate Editor of Security Studies.




By Date



November-December 2016

"Migration as a Weapon in Theory and in Practice"

Journal Article, Military Review, issue 6, volume 96

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

ISP Research Fellow Kelly M. Greenhill provides an analysis of coercive engineered migrations, based on her book Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced
Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy



May 2016

"Open Arms Behind Barred Doors: Fear, Hypocrisy and Policy Schizophrenia in the European Migration Crisis"

Journal Article, European Law Journal, issue 3, volume 22

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

"In 2015, over one million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe, laying bare the limitations of the EU's common border control and burden-sharing systems. This article examines consequences of the EU's disjoint, schizophrenic and, at times, hypocritical responses to what has become known as the European migration crisis."




December 17, 2015

"Demographic Bombing"

Op-Ed, Foreign Affairs

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

"Using migration as an instrument of state-level coercion is nothing new. Since the 1951 Refugee Convention came into force, there have been at least 75 attempts by state and nonstate actors to use displaced people as means to political, military, and economic ends. Coercers' demands have ranged from the simple provision of financial aid to requests for full-scale invasion and assistance in effecting regime change."



Creative Commons

November 16, 2015

"Europe Must Deal With the Breeding of Terrorism Within Its Borders"

Op-Ed, The New York Times

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

"...[T]ightening migration policies would do nothing to address the fundamental underlying causes of terrorist attacks: namely, the appeal of radicalization to a small, but committed, segment of the marginalized and disaffected already living within the European Union, many of whom are citizens. While tragically misguided, participation in such attacks can give psychologically disenfranchised individuals a sense of power and belonging. However effective and proactive law enforcement and counterterrorism units may be, until the sources of alienation and discontent are vanquished, more homegrown terrorists are likely to emerge."



February 9, 2015

"Nigeria's Countless Casualties"

Op-Ed, Foreign Affairs

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

"...[W]e should consider divorcing the significance of an issue from its reported or purported size. Instead, we could use alternative criteria to judge the merits of how to deal with conflict, such as applying collective values and societal norms. A focus on deterring mass atrocities, for instance, might be a better use of limited resources than either waiting for a death toll to escalate in order to justify intervention, or artificially inflating numbers to justify taking actions actually driven by other, more strategically-oriented rationales."



AP Photo

February 10, 2012

"Dead Reckoning: Challenges in Measuring the Human Costs of Conflict"


By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

Determining what is "old" and "new" about conflicts demands attention to how we know what we know. Despite increasing demands for conflict data, as Kelly Greenhill argues in this post, "accurately assessing the human costs of conflict can be difficult at best."



AP Photo

April 21, 2011

"Using Refugees as Weapons"

Op-Ed, International Herald Tribune

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

"In 2006, and again in 2008, Qaddafi extracted from the E.U. additional financial aid and equipment (such as boats) that could be used for migration enforcement. In late 2010, the E.U. and Libya concluded a further £500 million accord, which succeeded in stopping, or at least demonstrably slowing, the flow of people across the Mediterranean — until the outbreak of unrest in Tunisia."



March 2010

Weapons of Mass Migration: Forced Displacement, Coercion, and Foreign Policy


By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

In Weapons of Mass Migration, Kelly M. Greenhill offers the first systematic examination of this widely deployed but largely unrecognized instrument of state influence. She shows both how often this unorthodox brand of coercion has been attempted (more than fifty times in the last half century) and how successful it has been (well over half the time). She also tackles the questions of who employs this policy tool, to what ends, and how and why it ever works. Coercers aim to affect target states' behavior by exploiting the existence of competing political interests and groups, Greenhill argues, and by manipulating the costs or risks imposed on target state populations.



AP Photo

March 2008

"Strategic Engineered Migration as a Weapon of War"

Journal Article, Civil Wars, issue 1, volume 10

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program

In recent years, it has been widely argued that a new and different armament — i.e., the refugee as weapon — has entered the world's arsenals. But just how new and different is this weapon? Can it only be used in wartime? And just how successful has been its exploitation?



December 2007

"Ten Ways to Lose at Counterinsurgency"

Journal Article, Civil Wars, The Origins and Effectiveness of Insurgent and Counterinsurgent Strategies, issue 4, volume 9

By Kelly M. Greenhill, Research Fellow, International Security Program and Paul Staniland, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Intrastate Conflict Program, 2008–2009

Counterinsurgency is one of the most important topics facing policymakers and scholars. Existing studies of counterinsurgency are very valuable, but sometimes adhere too strictly to sweeping dichotomies and paradigms. This article discusses ten specific mechanisms that lead counterinsurgent governments to squander their generally overwhelming power advantages. This mechanism-based approach can improve both policy and scholarly analysis.

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