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Strategies of Terrorism.docx

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 244
Jason Scott Ferrell

Strategies of Terrorism (Kydd and Walter) • terrorism often works 1. 1980-2003 half of all suicide terrorist campaigns closely followed by substantial concessions by the targeted governments • terrorist recruitment based on poverty, education, political freedom • causes governments to respond in ways that aid terrorists' cause 1. 9/11 meant to raise the costs for US supporting Israel and other Arab regimes, and to provoke them into a military response, mobilizing Muslims around the world • terrorist violence is a form of costly signalling 1. too weak to impose their will directly by force of arms 2. hard for weak actors to make credible threats, so they are forced to display publicly just how far they are willing to go • strategic logic: 1. attrition ▪ persuade enemy that terrorists are strong enough to impose considerable costs if the enemy continues the policy 2. intimidation ▪ convince the population that the terrorists are strong enough to punish disobedience and that government is too weak to stop them 3. provocation ▪ attempt to induce the enemy to respond to terrorism with indiscriminate violence, which radicalizes the population so they support the terrorists 4. spoiling ▪ persuade the enemy that moderates on the terrorist's side are weak and untrustworthy, thus undermining attempts to reach a peace settlement 5. outbidding ▪ violence to convince the public that the terrorists have greater resolve to fight the enemy than rival groups, and are therefore worth supporting The Goals of Terrorism • terrorism: the use of violence against civilians by non state actors to attain political goals • five enduring goals: 1. regime change ▪ overthrow government to replace it with one led by terrorists or one more to their liking 2. territorial change ▪ take territory from state to establish a new state or to join another state 3. policy change ▪ broader category of lesser demands (i.e. al Qaida wants US to stop supporting Israel) 4. social control ▪ constrains the behaviour of individuals, rather than the state (KKK) 5. status quo maintenance ▪ support an existing regime or territorial arrangement against political groups seeking to change it The Strategies of Terrorist Violence • most analyses fail to establish a coherent framework, spell out their logic in detail, or consider best responses to them • uncertainty has long been understood to be a cause of conflict FEARON ◦ about trustworthiness or moderation of preferences or intentions ◦ rather attack than be surprised by attack ▪ security dilemma and spiral model ◦ communications would help ▪ BUT actors have incentive to lie or bluff ▪ so must resort to costly signals ▪ actions so costly that bluffers and liars are unwilling to take them (international crisis, mobilizing, etc) • terrorists act for two audiences ◦ governments whose policies they wish to influence ◦ individuals whose support or obedience they wish to obtain Attrition: A Battle of Wills • must persuade enemy that the group is strong and resolute enough to inflict serious costs • greater the inflicted cost, the more credible future threats will be, the more likely capitulation ◦ suicide bombings • i.e. al-Qaeda and US war Conditions Favorable to Attrition • state's level of interest in the issue under dispute ◦ peripheral interest only means the state capitulates more often ◦ cost of the attack outweighs the enemy's interests at stake • constraints on its ability to retaliate ◦ terrorists, because they are weaker than the government, are vulnerable to government retaliation ◦ more constrained government is in use of force, less costly attrition to terrorists, the longer the terrorists can continue on ◦ i.e. Israel could easily do away with Palestine, but then it would sever its international ties with US and Europe ◦ democracies more constrained in ability to retaliate ▪ human rights considerations in interrogation and retaliation ◦ ease with which terrorist organization can be targeted ▪ i.e al-Qaida widely dispersed, difficult to identify • target's cost tolerance ◦ governments that can take heavier losses are less inviting targets for attrition ◦ based on: ▪ target's regime type ▪ democracies can't handle as much pain ▪ citizens demand attack end ▪ target's past behaviour towards other terrorists ▪ encouraged by signs of weakness in the past towards terrorists Best Responses to Attrition • five counterstrategies available to the state: 1. targeted government can concede inessential issues in exchange for peace 2. if issue is important enough to targeted state, engage in targeted retaliation 3. harden likely targets to minimize the costs the terrorists can inflict (i.e. wall separating Israel from West Bank as counterinsurgency) 4. seek to destroy terrorists access to most destructive weapons (secure stockpiles and h
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