Eric Miller (USA), M.A., Class of 2009
Eric Miller has just published his Master’s thesis under the title: The Inability of Peacekeeping to Address the Security Dilemma: A Case Study of the Rwandan-Congolese Security Dilemma and the United Nation’s Mission in the Congo (Lambert 2010).
His advisor, Professor Douglas Yates, comments: "Eric had been interested in the topic before he arrived at AGS, and when I first met him he was already reading literature on this conflict, which is so big and so complex that it has been called “Africa’s World War.” The fall of Mobutu and the collapse of Zaire in 1996 created an enormous power vacuum in the heart of Africa, which has been filled by a euphemistically named Democratic Republic of the Congo, ruled by a father and then by his son: Laurent and Desire Kabila. Since then the Congo forest basin has been filled with armed rebellion, strategic resource conflict, attempted genocide, and all the evils of war.
What makes Eric’s book interesting is how he framed the ongoing conflict in the DRC not in terms of those conventional categories, but in terms of the rising power of Rwanda. Eric shows how the war in the eastern DRC is not how many have presumed just another resource conflict (although natural resources surely do play their part) but is really a kind of “proxy war” reflecting the “security dilemma” faced by post-genocide Rwanda. That is, Eric managed to use international relations theory to explore a conflict usually relegated to African studies.
The inability of the United Nations peacekeeping mission (the largest in the world) to resolve this conflict, or even to prevent what is estimated to have been six million deaths, was Eric’s original problematic. But as he delved into all the literature coming out on the subject, and mapped the shifting patterns of international, national, and sub-national armed forces, what he managed to do was demonstrate how this conflict is not simply another African exemplar of the coming anarchy, but a genuine international conflict, with global implications.
For Master's students who are working on their thesis, Eric’s publication should be an inspiration. This is not the first AGS student to publish their work, nor will it be the last."
Since he graduated from AGS last June, Eric Miller has been guest lecturing on topics related to his thesis in various universities in the US and Europe. On December 8-10, 2009, he taught two classes at the University of New York Tirana, in Albania, upon invitation by UNYT's Professor Tom Hashimoto. He spoke about peacekeeping, nation building and security in Africa.
On March 2, he was invited as a guest speaker at Boston University, USA. He did a summary of his thesis, the Congo wars, the continuing security dilemma in the region and the role of the United Nations in that conflict, to an audience of about thirty professors and graduate students from the International Relations and African Studies departments of Boston University.
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I aim to help my students prepare for life beyond "the groves of academe" - especially how to ask the right questions to work out what is really going on out there. Along the way, they practice writing lucidly and succinctly. It is stimulating teaching such a lively crew. I hope they also find it fun being challenged to analyse the facts without prejudice and to think originally.