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Globalization and State Security. The Puzzle. Why do some transnational groups -- commonly known as terrorists -- resort to violence to achieve their aims? Or, what do these two guys have in common -- and not?. Peter Benenson, Founder, Amnesty International. Osama bin Laden, Founder, al-Qaeda.

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The puzzle l.jpg
The Puzzle

  • Why do some transnational groups -- commonly known as terrorists -- resort to violence to achieve their aims?

  • Or, what do these two guys have in common -- and not?

Peter Benenson, Founder, Amnesty International

Osama bin Laden, Founder, al-Qaeda


Why violence l.jpg
Why Violence?

  • Negotiate and find compromises. Politics is the art of accommodation.

  • Terrorism is simply another bargaining failure. The same reasons that lead states to go to war, lead groups to use violence.

    • But why target civilians?


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The Puzzle

  • Violence is an extremely costly way to settle disputes. Given the human and material costs of violent conflict, why do groups sometimes wage war rather than resolve their disputes through negotiations?

    • Frequent conflicts of interest.

    • Only some disputes are resolved by force.


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A Domestic Analogy

  • Why are most civil disputes settled out of court?

    • Both sides can predict reasonably well the “damages” that might be awarded.

    • Lawyers, and especially court time, are enormously expensive.

    • To save the costs of “going to trial,” most disputes are settled earlier rather than later in the process.


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Another Domestic Analogy

  • Why are most union contracts negotiated without a strike?

    • Prevailing wages in area are generally well known.

    • Strikes are costly to both workers and owners.

    • Both sides have an interest in reaching an amicable settlement.


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Insight from Bargaining Theory

  • As long as war is costly, some bargain must exist that both sides would prefer to actually fighting.

  • If so, war can only arise as a result of some “bargaining failure.”


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Bargaining Failures arise from

  • Incomplete information.

  • Problems of credible commitment.

  • Indivisbilities.


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Indivisibilities

  • Bargaining model assumes that all issues are easily divided into increments.

  • If issues are indivisible, there may not be possible divisions that lie within the bargaining space.

    • Jerusalem claimed as a capital and holy city by several groups and faiths.

  • Yet, virtually all issues are divisible in practice, especially if we allow sidepayments.


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Incomplete Information

  • States can be uncertain about each other’s willingness to fight.

    • Disagree about the probability of victory (p)

    • Disagree about the costs of fighting (a or b)

  • Problem of credibility: if states are uncertain, why can’t they just tell each other about their capabilities and resolve?

    • Costly signals: brinksmanship or risk.

    • Tying hands: increasing the costs of “backing down.”

  • But states possess incentives to misrepresent or bluff.


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Why Do Terrorist Groups Resort to Violence?

  • Terrorism is the use or threatened use of violence by individuals or nonstate groups against civilian targets for political ends.

  • Like states, groups can use violence to impose a solution or raise costs to other side to elicit concessions. In this way, terrorism or threats of terrorism are a form of bargaining.


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Which Groups Choose Terror?

  • Terrorism is asymmetrical warfare.

    • States are always stronger than terrorist groups, but not so strong that they can deter all attacks.

    • Object of terrorist is not to defeat the target’s military, but to inflict pain and suffering to induce political change.

    • Terrorists are not inherently weaker than states, rather groups choose terrorism when they are too weak to fight the state directly.


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Which Groups Choose Terror?

“Extremists” are weak relative to the goals they seek. That is, they lack significant popular support.

N

Left Extremists

Right

Extremists

Left

Right

Opinion


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Terrorist Organizations

  • Terrorist organizations take many forms, but often are highly decentralized networks with many self-contained “cells.” Networks are robust to penetration or counter-attack.

    • Al-Qaeda has metastasized from a “networked” hierarchy to a decentralized network after the fall of Afghanistan.

  • Terrorists hide within sympathetic populations.


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Terrorism from Incomplete Information

  • Terrorists have private information that they cannot credibly reveal to targets.

    • Information asymmetries likely to be large -- groups have uncertain capabilities.

    • Groups have incentives to exaggerate their capabilities and resolve.

    • Cannot reveal their strategies without vitiating their effectiveness.

    • Threats are often inherently not credible.


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Terrorism from Commitment Problems

  • To reach agreement, terrorists must credibly commit not to stage future attacks.

  • Most effective way is to disarm and give third party access to organization, but this then reduces the power of the group and the likelihood that the target will honor the agreement.


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Target is uncertain about group’s capabilities or resolve.

Group attacks to make its demands credible. Attack is a form of costly signaling.

Strategies of Terrorism: Coercion

Target

?

Terrorist

Home

Ex.: Sunni attacks on U.S. and Shiites in Iraq.


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Home society or state is uncertain about preferences of Target.

Is Target imperialist?

Terrorist attacks Target to provoke a response.

Since Target cannot identify Terrorist precisely, collateral damage to Home.

Home “updates” its beliefs about Target’s preferences.

It really is imperialist.

Strategies of Terrorism: Provocation

Target

?

Terrorist

Home

Ex: Al-Qaeda attacks on 9/11; Palestinian attacks on Israel.


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Target is uncertain about Home’s ability or desire to honor agreement and restrain extremists.

Terrorists attack Target, and Target updates its beliefs that Home cannot control Terrorists.

Target more likely to reject agreement as not credible.

Strategies of Terrorism: Spoiling

Target

Terrorist

?

Home

Ex.: Hamas attacks prior to Israeli elections in 1996 and 2001.


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Home is uncertain about Terrorist’s preferences honor agreement and restrain extremists.

Which group is more committed?

Terrorists attack Target to demonstrate capabilities and commitment to Home.

Strategies of Terrorism: Outbidding

Target

Terrorist

?

Home

Ex.: Fatah v. Hamas in West Bank.


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Can Terrorism Be Prevented? honor agreement and restrain extremists.

  • Problems of incomplete information and credible commitment will require groups to launch attacks to demonstrate that they can.

  • What can states do?

    • Defensive measures (airport security, border defenses).

    • Criminalize terrorism and hunt down terrorists.

    • Preventive attacks on terrorist networks.


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What Should We Do? honor agreement and restrain extremists.

  • Intelligence

    • Is more better? When?

    • Today, intelligence is directed mostly toward counter-terrorism to prevent attacks and destroy groups.

  • Should we negotiate?

    • Current stance is that we do not negotiate with terrorists,

    • but we do make concessions (ex.: U.S. withdrawal of combat forces from Saudi Arabia in 2003).

    • If terrorism is a product of bargaining failures, should we bargain with terrorists?


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Globalization of Terrorism honor agreement and restrain extremists.

  • Ability to move information, goods and money empowers non-state actor

  • New forms of terrorism

    • Mechanisms for attacking

    • New types of targets

  • But, if globalization/FDI increases wealth that may reduce terrorism


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