Evidence on the Effectiveness of Terrorism
Readers of this blog will know that I like the works of Max Abrahms, and regularly blog them. He has a new paper (full paper behind paywall) in Defence and Peace Economics, 22:6 (2011), 583–94, “Does Terrorism Really Work? Evolution in the Conventional Wisdom since 9/11”:
The basic narrative of bargaining theory predicts that, all else equal, anarchy favors concessions to challengers who demonstrate the will and ability to escalate against defenders. For this reason, post-9/11 political science research explained terrorism as rational strategic behavior for non-state challengers to induce government compliance given their constraints. Over the past decade, however, empirical research has consistently found that neither escalating to terrorism nor with terrorism helps non-state actors to achieve their demands. In fact, escalating to terrorism or with terrorism increases the odds that target countries will dig in their political heels, depriving the nonstate challengers of their given preferences. These empirical findings across disciplines, methodologies, as well as salient global events raise important research questions, with implications for counterterrorism strategy.
EDITED TO ADD (2/14): The paper.