News | May 24, 2016


By Michelle Hughes and Michael Miklaucic Impunity

Behind every book is another book, and this is very true with “Impunity: Countering Illicit Power in War and Transition.” The book itself is the product of a process that began in 2005, with numerous conferences, workshops, seminars, and editorial sessions along the way. Among the many we must gratefully acknowledge is Michael Carr who served tirelessly as a technical editor for the book, and was a critical sounding board for us as we attempted to synthesize a broad range of research and ideas into a coherent whole. We cannot thank him enough. We also acknowledge the interns of the Center for Complex Operations at National Defense University (CCO) for their valuable contributions. Over the years 2012 – 2015 quite a few CCO interns played one role or another – some were organizers and note-takers at editorial workshops, others compiled expert lists, drafted memos and chapter abstracts, collected biographical information, and a variety of other critical tasks. They include Molly Jerome, Shannon Corson, Ava Cacciolfi, Thi Le, Hiram Reynolds, Samantha Fletcher, David Robinson, and Tamara Tanso. There may be others and if we have forgotten any, please forgive us. The book would not have been possible without support from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, with special thanks to Daniel Plafcan. We received additional critical support from the Department of Defense Minerva Initiative and particularly want to single out Dr. Erin Fitzgerald for supporting our effort. Dr. Fitzgerald encouraged us to use this book as a pilot effort to track the use of social science research in defense policy-making, and in professional military education. To do so we assembled a professional team consisting of Christopher Holshek and David Gordon whom we would like to thank. The book layout was done at the Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute of the U.S. Army (PKSOI) by the patient and tireless Jennifer Nevil; we thank PKSOI and specifically Dr. William Flavin and Dr. Karen Finkenbinder for their partnership in this undertaking. Back at NDU Judy Kim helped us with the cover art. Nadia Gerspacher of the United States Institute of Peace was one of the pioneers of the project leading to this publication, and we are grateful for her work in the early stages of the project. We also thank Larry Sampler for his early contribution, particularly the laconic but insightful observation that to counter illicit power structures “you have to either make them licit, take away their power, or dismantle their structure.” Over the course of the decade since the original illicit power structures project was initiated it went into dormant periods, as project participants and investigators were called to different assignments. At times the project – and the book – were orphaned. We owe a great debt to Michael Dziedzic who was relentless in his determination that the intellectual capital created in the course of the project not be lost. He kept the project, and the book concept, going when others had dropped it. Finally and perhaps most importantly we thank all the authors who contributed to this book and to the larger effort. Their patience and professionalism are deeply appreciated.