Author Biography

Lt Col Randell Yi is a Doctoral Student in Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. He served as an Air Advisor to Iraqi Air Force and Ministry of Defense senior leaders in 2017 and holds an MPhil in Military Strategy from the U.S. Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.



Subject Area Keywords

Corruption, Democracy and democatization, Development and security, Foreign aid, Military affairs


This article tests two competing candidate theories of security cooperation provision contained in the literature against a subset of stated strategic objectives by assessing whether the amount of aid spent over time correlates with intended outcomes. One is based on the principal-agent problem, while the other derives from the organizational behavior model. The focus is solely on fragile states since they represent the most policy-relevant and challenging cases. Quantitative analysis utilizes existing datasets to provide proxy measures for neopatrimonialism, praetorianism, and combat effectiveness, corresponding to political, political/military, and military dimensions of security cooperation efficacy, respectively. The results challenge the conventional wisdom that increasing foreign aid merely feeds corruption and that to bolster foreign militaries is to beg for a coup. Controlling for economic aid and GDP per capita, both small and large military assistance packages strongly correlate with a reduction in neopatrimonialism and deaths due to violent conflict and terrorism in recipient nations. While small aid programs appear to temper the risk of a coup, this relationship does not hold for large ones. This research also calls into question the oft-assumed degree to which principal-agent problems and organizational behavior hamper effective aid provision.