Monday, May 19, 2008
Friday, May 9, 2008
Michael Vinay Bhatia
Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies
10/01- University of
D.Phil Candidate in International Relations, 2002-
§ Dissertation Title: The Mujahideen: A Study of Combatant Motives in
§ Examines ‘vocabularies of motive,’ through interviews with 345 combatants throughout
M.Sc. in International Relations Research, 2001-2002
B.A. in International Relations (Magna cum Laude and Honors), Fall 1995- Spring 1999
Honors and Grants
2003 British Committee for Central and Inner Asia Field Research Grant
2001 George C. Marshall Scholar
2000 Herbert J. Scoville Peace and Disarmament Fellow
1999 Albert Arnold Bennett Award for Outstanding Performance in International Relations,
1999 Anthony Riccio Prize in International Relations,
1996-1998 Richard Smoke Summer Internship Grant,
Teaching and Research
07/06-08/07 Thomas J. Watson Institute for International Studies,
§ Member, Marshall, Rhodes, Gates and Craig Fellowship Committee.
§ Designed and taught seminar on ‘The American Military: Global Supremacy, Democracy and Citizenship.’
§ Contributed to Global Media Project, Project on Military Cultural Awareness Training, the Choices Education Project, and the Global Security Project.
§ Special lectures on ‘Conflict, Combatants and Illicit Activity in
01-04/06 Department of Political Science,
§ Taught third-year lecture course (three hour) on ‘The Causes of War’ to 60 undergraduates.
10/00-06/01 Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA),
Fall 2000 Herbert J. Scoville Peace and Disarmament Fellow
Consultancies and Professional Activities
04/05- Small Arms Survey,
Consultant on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) and Small Arms in
11/04-04/05 Conflict, Security, and Development Group, King’s College,
10/04 OSCE Electoral Support
Electoral Expert and USA Delegation Member for
Researcher on Security Sector
Shift Editor and
10/02 Organization for Security and Cooperation in
International Polling Station Supervisor and Team Leader
08/01 Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Afghanistan/Pakistan
Researcher, Humanitarian Policy Group on Political Economy, Livelihoods and Aid in Taliban
Member, Congressional Delegation to the Polisario-controlled
06-09/00 International Rescue Committee, Kosovo
Shelter, Grants and Finance Volunteer
08/99-01/00 Brown University/Paximus
Served as accredited UN Observer, reported on violations and witnessed post-consultation violence.
06/09/98 United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR),
Intern, Western Sahara Operation, Desk II, CASWANAME
§ Drafted position papers on implementation of and alternatives to current peace settlement plan.
11/97 Saharawan Aid Trust
Member, Humanitarian Aid Convoy to the Sahrawi Refugee Camps near
06/96-09/99 Thomas J. Watson Jr. Institute for International Studies,
Research Assistant on Peace Operations and Humanitarian Intervention.
04/96-06/97 Brown Journal of World Affairs,
Advice Solicited By: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UN reform), UK Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit (Afghanistan), BBC (UN peace operations), Canada International Development Agency (Afghanistan), Foreign Affairs Canada (Afghanistan), Ministry of Justice-Canada (Afghanistan), International Committee of the Red Cross (war and international humanitarian law). Fordham University Law Clinic (
List of Publications
§ War and Intervention: Issues for Contemporary Peace Operations (
: Kumarian Press, 2003). Bloomfield, CT
§ Michael Bhatia and Mark Sedra,
§ Terrorism and the Politics of Naming, (
Edited Journal Issues
§ “The Politics of Naming: Rebels, Terrorists, Criminals, Bandits and Subversives,” Special Issue of
§ Dylan Hendrickson, Michael Bhatia, Mark Knight and Annabel Taylor, “A Review of DfID Involvement in Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in
§ Michael Bhatia, Kevin Lanigan and Philip Wilkinson, “Minimal Investments, Minimal Results: The Failure of Security Policy in
§ Michael Bhatia and Jonathan Goodhand (with Haneef Atmar, Suleiman Mohammed and Adam Pain), “
§ Sarah Collinson (with Michael Bhatia, Martin Evans, Richard Fanthorpe, Jonathan Goodhand and Stephen Jackson), “Politically informed humanitarian programming: using a political economy approach,” ODI Network Paper 41 (
§ Jarat Chopra and Michael Bhatia, “
§ “The Future of the Mujahideen: Legacy, Legitimacy and Demobilization,” International Peacekeeping (Winter 2007).
§ “Fighting Words: Naming Terrorists, Rebels, Bandits and Other Violent Actors,” Third World Quarterly, vol. 26, no.1 (March 2005)
§ “Post-Conflict Profit: The Political Economy of Intervention,” Global Governance, vol. 11, no. 2 (April-June 2005).
§ “Repatriation Under a Peace Process: Mandated Return in the
§ “The Peace Allergy: why the
§ “The Sins of Omission: The AJC’s Project Interchange and the Creation of American Opinion,” Middle East Policy, vol.9, no.2 (2002).
§ "The Western Sahara Under Polisario Control: Summary Report of a Field Mission to the Sahrawi Refugee Camps (near
§ “Studying Afghan Combatant Motives,”
§ “Enlightened Interventions: The Discourse of Practice in Empire, Military Occupation and Contemporary Transitional Administration,” presented at the British International Studies Association Annual Conference,
§ “From Bargaining Table to Municipality: The Levels of Governance in Peace Operations,” presented at the British International Studies Association Annual Conference,
§ “The American Response to Terrorism,” presented at the University of Belfast-Londontown, March 2002.
§ Panel Presentation on post-Taliban
§ “Statement Regarding the Issue of the Western Sahara Before the Fourth Committee for Special Political and Decolonization Issues of the United Nations General Assembly,” 7-9 October 1998.
§ “Beyond Conflict in
§ “Intervention offers no solution for Kosovo,” GlobalBeat/Knight Ridder Press Syndicate, (19 September 2000).
§ “A Chance to Right A Wrong in
§ Natalie Reid, Salim Fakirani and Michael Bhatia, “United Nations Efforts to Resolve the Western Sahara Conflict Appear Bleak,” Human Rights Tribune, vol.7, no. 2/3 (September 2000).
§ Drafted and researched case-study chapters, maps and tables for: Thomas G. Weiss, Military-Civilian Interactions: Intervening in Humanitarian Crises, (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999).
Recommendations Available From:
Professor S.Neil Macfarlane Dr. Jarat Chopra (on-leave)
Department of Politics and International Relations The Watson Institute
Shahid Qadir Professor Thomas Biersteker
Department of Geography, The Watson Institute
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX
Dr. Andrew Krepinevich
Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments
1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, Suite 912
Washington, DC 20036
(t): (202) 331-7990
Human Terrain Team Member Killed in Afghanistan
From the Human Terrain System,
It is with deep sorrow that we must inform you of the tragic death of Michael Bhatia, our social scientist team member assigned to the Afghanistan Human Terrain Team #1, in support of Task Force Currahee based at FOB SALERNO, Khowst Province.
Michael was killed on May 7 when the Humvee he was riding in was struck by an IED. Michael was traveling in a convoy of four vehicles, which were en route to a remote sector of Khowst province. For many years, this part of Khowst had been plagued by a violent inter-tribal conflict concerning land rights. Michael had identified this tribal dispute as a research priority, and was excited to finally be able to visit this area. This trip was the brigade's initial mission into the area, and it was their intention to initiate a negotiation process between the tribes.
Michael was in the lead vehicle with four other soldiers. Initial forensics indicate that the IED was triggered by a command detonated wire. Michael died immediately in the explosion. Two Army soldiers from Task Force Currahee were also killed in the attack, and two were critically injured.
During the course of his seven-month tour, Michael's work saved the lives of both US soldiers and Afghan civilians. His former brigade commander, COL Marty Schweitzer testified before Congress on 24 April that the Human Terrain Team of which Michael was a member helped the brigade reduce its lethal operations by 60 to 70%, increase the number of districts supporting the Afghan government from 15 to 83, and reduce Afghan civilian deaths from over 70 during the previous brigade's tour to 11 during the 4-82's tour.
A copy of Colonel Schweitzer's comments can be found at the Human Terrain System web page.
We will remember Michael for his personal courage, his willingness to endure danger and hardship, his incisive intelligence, his playful sense of humor, his confidence, his devoted character, and his powerful inner light. While his life has ended, he has not disappeared without a trace. He left a powerful effect behind, which will be felt by his friends and colleagues and by the people of Afghanistan for many years to come.
Senior Social Science Advisor
Human Terrain System
US Army TRADOC
FORT MONROE, Va. (TRADOC News Service, May 9, 2008) – Michael Vinay Bhatia was killed Tuesday by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) strike in the vicinity of Sabari District in the Khowst Province of Afghanistan. He was a civilian contractor employed by BAE Systems, assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault) Division in Afghanistan and working as a social scientist supporting the U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) program.
While assigned to the 4th BCT, Bhatia brought a critical skill and wealth of knowledge to his support of the mission in Afghanistan. He developed this knowledge, not only as an academic, but also as a humanitarian and researcher in areas such as East Timor, Kosovo and the Sahrawi refugee camps of western Algeria.
HTS is a program run by the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Its purpose is to improve brigade and division commanders’ level of understanding of the highly complex local socio-cultural environment in areas where U.S. Army troops are deployed.
“Our deepest sympathy and heartfelt prayers go out to Michael Bhatia’s family and friends,” said Gen. William S. Wallace, TRADOC’s commanding general. “Michael is a hero. The Army didn’t go looking for him to ask him for his service – he came looking for us because he was committed to make things better. Our nation is better, as are the people of Afghanistan, because of his devotion and brilliance. He will not be forgotten.”
Bhatia was a leading academic and lecturer in conflict and international relations who realized that his vast experience and cultural knowledge could be a critical asset to the Army in operations surrounding Afghan villages and provinces. A 1999 doctoral candidate in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford and a George C. Marshall Scholarship recipient in 2001, his hope was providing assistance in creating a better quality of life for the local population while decreasing the level of lethal operations within the 4th BCT area of responsibility.
“Michael Bhatia’s efforts empowered the achievement of peace and stability among local populations without a reliance on force alone as the principle means,” said Steve Fondacaro, HTS project manager. “He didn’t merely write about it or talk about it, he just did it. And there are very many Soldiers and civilians who are alive today and together with their families because of it.”
As a civilian and as an academic, Bhatia lived the Army values of personal courage, loyalty, duty and respect. His accomplishments and contributions will be felt for many years to come.
More:In Memory of Michael Vinay Bhatia '99 - Brown University
The Cost of Being There - Complex Terrain Laboratory
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- Why are US forces in Afghanistan? [1:04]
Watson Institute for International Studies
Michael Bhatia was a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute in 2006-07 while completing his doctorate in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. His areas of interest include Afghanistan, war, small arms, disarmament, and international development. His doctoral dissertation, entitled The Mujahideen: A Study of Combatant Motives in Afghanistan, 1978-2005, is based on 350 interviews with combatants throughout Afghanistan, as well as archival and media research. He has conducted research in Afghanistan for the Overseas Development Institute, the Small Arms Survey, the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, the UK Department for International Development (via the International Policy Institute, King's College, London), and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Bhatia is the author of War and Intervention: Issues for Contemporary Peace Operations (Kumarian Press, 2003).
We mourn the death of Michael Bhatia in Afghanistan on May 7, 2008.
(Paperback - April 2003)
Afghanistan, Arms and Conflict: Armed Groups, Disarmament and Security in a Post-war Society (Contemporary Security Studies) by Michael Vinay Bhatia and Mark Sedra (Hardcover - Aug 13, 2008)
Postconflict profit: the political economy of intervention.: An article from: Global Governance by Michael Bhatia (Digital - Jul 25, 2005) - HTML
The peace allergy: why the U.S. military had no plans for post-war Iraq.: An article from: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Michael Bhatia (Digital - Jul 31, 2005) - HTML
Sins of omission: the AJC's project interchange and the creation of American opinion.(American Jewish Committee): An article from: Middle East Policy by Michael Bhatia (Digital - Jul 30, 2005) - HTML