The winners of the 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s Innovation Awards have been announced at an awards ceremony in Pembroke on 12 July.
Melissa Skorka, DPhil candidate with CCW, was highly commended in the Early Career Category for her project, 21st Century Terrorist Political Adaptation to Western Policy.
This project has created new synergies between academia and public institutions, while promoting Oxford’s Changing Character of War Programme as a world-leader in policy-relevant research-led innovation. The project has combined historical and political analysis of the al Qaeda-affiliated Haqqani network in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan, showing the impact of U.S. policy evolution, not least through its use of human shields and manipulation of Pakistan’s state strategies. This notorious movement itself is a product of a symbiosis between traditional clan polity and modern sub-state actors, but practices a very modern form of coercive politics. The Haqqani pursues its own line of policy, yet uses a combination of old and new methods of war to achieve it. Promoting novel ways of addressing this subject – terrorist political adaptation to Western policy – fits exactly with Oxford’s innovation strategy and the contemporary challenge of global security.
If resolutions to the violent path of Haqqani could be found, it would present us with a set of tools for the more effective analysis and applied knowledge of conflict termination in other parts of the world. This project has been acknowledged by the National Security Advisor of the U.S. administration, resulting in adjustments in U.S. foreign policy.