Patrick B. Johnston

Photo of Patrick Johnston
Political Scientist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in political science, Northwestern University


Patrick Johnston is an associate political scientist at the RAND Corporation. He specializes in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, with a particular focus on Afghanistan and the Philippines. His articles have been published or are forthcoming in a range of peer-reviewed journals, including American Economic Review, International Security, Security Studies, and Civil Wars. Before coming to RAND, Johnston was a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford University, and the United States Institute of Peace. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at Northwestern University in 2009.

Selected Publications

Benjamin W. Bahney, Radha K. Iyengar, Patrick B. Johnston, Danielle F. Jung, Jacob N. Shapiro, Howard J. Shatz, "Insurgent Compensation: Evidence from Iraq," American Economic Review, 103(3):518-522, 2013

Patrick B. Johnston, "Does Decapitation Work? Assessing the Effectiveness of Leadership Targeting in Counterinsurgency Campaigns," International Security, 36(4):47-79, 2012

Benjamin Crost and Patrick Johnston, "Aid Under Fire: Development Projects and Civil Conflict," Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Discussion Paper 2010-18, 2010

Patrick Johnston, "The Geography of Insurgent Organization and Its Consequences for Civil Wars: Evidence from Liberia and Sierra Leone," Security Studies, 17(1):107-137, 2008

Patrick Johnston, "Negotiated Settlements and Government Strategy in Civil Wars: Evidence from Darfur," Civil Wars, 9(4):359-377, 2007


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    New 'Rule Book' to Set Parameters for Targeted Killings

    A constrictive rule book against direct-action counterterrorism techniques could be in tension with operational realities. But it would go some way toward establishing the legal and ethical framework under which such difficult decisions are made, writes Patrick Johnston.

    Dec 5, 2012 | The Orange County Register

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    Do Targeted Killings Work?

    When terrorists are afraid to poke their heads above ground, it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to communicate, coordinate, and conduct attacks—especially sophisticated ones like 9/11, writes Patrick B. Johnston.

    Sep 28, 2012 | Council on Foreign Relations

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    Drone Strikes Keep Pressure on al-Qaida

    Recently declassified correspondence seized in the bin Laden raid shows that the relentless pressure from the drone campaign on al-Qaida in Pakistan led bin Laden to advise al-Qaida operatives to leave Pakistan's Tribal Areas as no longer safe, writes Patrick B. Johnston.

    Aug 22, 2012 | The Providence Journal