[The Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) brings you the sixteenth in a series of “Peer-Reviewed Article Reviews” in which we present a collection of journals and their articles concerned with the Middle East and Arab world. This series will be published seasonally. Each issue will comprise three-to-four parts, depending on the number of articles included.]
American Journal of Political Science (Volume 65, Issue 2)
Hassling: How States Prevent a Preventive War
By: Peter Schram
Abstract: Low-level military operations outside of war are pervasive in the international system. These activities have been viewed as destabilizing by both academics and policy makers, as miscalculations or missteps in conducting low-level operations can risk escalation to war. I show the opposite can be true: these operations can prevent escalation to a greater war. I examine a type of low-level conflict that I call “hassling” in the common framework of bargaining and war. The critical feature of hassling is that it weakens a targeted state. I find that when a rising power rules out peaceful bargains, hassling the rising power can prevent a preventive war, with efficiency gains for the involved states. This intuition is formalized in a dynamic model of conflict and is explored through examinations of Israel's Operation Outside the Box (2007), the United States' involvement in Iraq (1991–2003), and Russia's operations in Ukraine (beginning in 2014).
The Dictator's Power-Sharing Dilemma: Countering Dual Outsider Threats
By: Jack Paine
Abstract: Dictators face a power-sharing dilemma: Broadening elite incorporation mitigates prospects for outsider rebellions (by either elites excluded from power or the masses), but it raises the risk of insider coups. This article rethinks the theoretical foundations of the power-sharing dilemma and its consequences. My findings contrast with and provide conditionalities for a “conventional threat logic,” which argues that large outsider threats compel dictators to create broader-based regimes, despite raising coup risk. Instead, I analyze a game-theoretic model to explain why the magnitude of the elite outsider threat ambiguously affects power-sharing incentives. Dictators with weak coup-proofing institutions or who face deeply entrenched elites take the opposite actions predicted by the conventional logic. An additional outsider threat from the masses can either exacerbate or eliminate the power-sharing dilemma with elites, depending on elite affinity toward mass rule. Examining the elite-mass interaction also generates new implications for how mass threats affect the likelihood of coups and regime overthrow.
British Journal of Political Science (Volume 51, Issue 2)
Violence on Many Sides: Framing Effects on Protest and Support for Repression
By: Pearce Edwards, Daniel Arnon
Abstract: The success of protests depends on whether they favorably affect public opinion: nonviolent resistance can win public support for a movement, but regimes counter by framing protest as violent and instigated by outsiders. The authors argue that public perceptions of whether a protest is violent shift based on the framing of the types of action and the identities of participants in those actions. The article distinguishes between three dimensions: (1) threat of harm, (2) bearing of arms and (3) identity of protesters. Using survey experiments in Israel and the United States, the study finds support for framing effects. Threat of harm has the largest positive effect on perceptions of violence and support for repression. Surprisingly, social out-groups are not perceived as more violent, but respondents favor repressing them anyway. Support for repressing a nonthreatening out-group is at least as large as support for repressing a threatening in-group. The findings link contentious action and public opinion, and demonstrate the susceptibility of this link to framing.
Military Aid, Regime Vulnerability and the Escalation of Political Violence
By: Andrew Boutton
Abstract: This article offers an explanation for the failures of US military assistance programs in some countries. The author argues that the effects of military aid are conditional upon the vulnerability of the recipient regime. Power consolidation by an insecure leader often provokes violent opposition. However, because military aid strengthens the security forces of the recipient state, it generates a moral hazard that encourages exclusionary power consolidation, with the expectation that continued military aid will help manage violent blowback. Using proxies for regime vulnerability and an instrument for US military aid, the study shows that military aid increases anti-regime violence in new regimes (particularly new democracies) and in all personalist regimes. In contrast, military assistance has no effect on violence in established, non-personalist regimes. The article develops a novel theory of how regime characteristics condition responses to external military support, and identifies a distinct mechanism through which military aid increases domestic political violence.
Muslim Trade and City Growth Before the Nineteenth Century: Comparative Urbanization in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia
By: Lisa Blaydes, Christopher Paik
Abstract: Scholars have long sought to understand when and why the Middle East fell behind Europe in its economic development. This article explores the importance of historical Muslim trade in explaining urban growth and decline in the run-up to the Industrial Revolution. The authors examine Eurasian urbanization patterns as a function of distance to Middle Eastern trade routes before and after 1500 CE – the turning point in European breakthroughs in seafaring, trade and exploration. The results suggest that proximity to historical Muslim trade routes was positively associated with urbanization in 1200 but not in 1800. These findings speak to why Middle Eastern and Central Asian cities – which had long benefited from their central location between Europe and Asia – declined as Europeans found alternative routes to the East and opened trade opportunities in the New World.
Comparative Political Studies (Volume 54, Issues 3-6)
Leftist Insurgency in Democracies
By: Paul Staniland
Abstract: Leftist insurgency has been a major form of civil war since 1945. Existing research on revolution has linked leftist rebellions to authoritarianism or blocked democratization. This research overlooks the onset of leftist insurgencies in a number of democracies. This paper theorizes the roots of this distinctive form of civil war, arguing that democracy shapes how these insurgencies begin, acting as a double-edged sword that simultaneously blocks the emergence of a revolutionary coalition and triggers intra-left splits that breed radical splinters. Leftist revolts can thus emerge during “incorporation windows” that trigger disputes within a divided left over electoral co-optation. Empirically, the paper studies all cases of leftist insurgency in southern Asia since 1945, under both autocracy and democracy, as well as a set of non-onset cases. It offers a new direction for understanding varieties of revolutionary mobilization, highlighting ideology, intra-left debate, and the multi-faceted effects of democracy on conflict.
Strangers in Hostile Lands: Exposure to Refugees and Right-Wing Support in Germany’s Eastern Regions
By: Max Schaub, Johanna Gereke, Delia Baldassarri
Abstract: Does local exposure to refugees increase right-wing support? This paper studies a case uniquely suited to address this question: the allocation of refugees to the rural hinterlands of eastern Germany during the European refugee crisis. Similar to non-urban regions elsewhere, the area has had minimal previous exposure to foreigners, but distinctively leans towards the political right. Our data comprise electoral outcomes, and individual-level survey and behavioral measures. A policy allocating refugees following strict administrative rules and a matching procedure allow for causal identification. Our measurements confirm the presence of widespread anti-immigrant sentiments. However, these are unaffected by the presence of refugees in respondents’ hometowns: on average, we record null effects for all outcomes, which we interpret as supporting a sociotropic perspective on immigration attitudes. Masked by these overall null findings, we observe convergence: local exposure to refugees appears to have pulled both right- and left-leaning individuals more towards the center.
Contextual Effects of Immigrant Presence on Populist Radical Right Support: Testing the “Halo Effect” on Front National Voting in France
By: Jocelyn Evans, Gilles Ivaldi
Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between immigration and populist radical right (PRR) support, based on an analysis of the contextual effects of immigrant presence on Front National vote in France in 2017. Using a unique set of survey data geolocalising respondents at the subcommunal level, it finds evidence for the existence of a curvilinear “halo effect,” with substantial increases in the probability of PRR vote in areas surrounding communities with significantly higher-than-average immigrant populations, and independent of other socio-economic context, as well as individual socio-demographic characteristics. Most importantly, a path analysis confirms the presence of individual attitudinal mediators of this halo effect on PRR vote, thus testing the foundation of the halo, namely that the contextual effects of immigrant presence act on attitudes which drive PRR support. These findings provide a significant step forward in understanding the mechanisms linking subjective experience of immigration with voting for the populist radical right.
Fear without Prejudice in the Shadow of Jihadist Threat
By: Marco Giani
Abstract: Because the prejudice of the ingroup builds into fear of the outgroup, jihadist terrorism is expected to strengthen the politicized link between security and immigration. I use a causal inference in a clustered cross-country analysis to test the simultaneous short-run causal impact of the jihadist threat on security fear and ethnic prejudice of the public in Israel, the Netherlands, Russia, Sweden, France, and Germany. In line with common wisdom, jihadist attacks significantly increase security fear. Against it, jihadist attacks non-significantly decrease ethnic prejudice. This empirical pattern holds in across different types of immigration attitudes, ethnic groups, intervals of time and terrorist events, and is robust to placebo treatments, placebo policy preferences, fake and failed terror attacks. These findings challenge extant consensus, and suggest that jihadist attacks, particularly at the local level, induce risk-aversion rather than desire for retaliation.
Critical Studies on Terrorism (Volume 14, Issue 2)
“They are not muslims. They are monsters”: the accidental takfirism of British political elites
By: Harrison Swinhoe
Abstract: It has become increasingly common for British political elites to engage in takfir, the process by which individuals are declared not to be Muslims despite their self-proclaimed Islamic faith. This apparently accidental takfirism denies that members of Salafi-Jihadist groups are themselves Muslims in contrast to more nuanced approaches taken by ‘mainstream’ Sunni religious and political figures.This paper draws on constructivist and poststructuralist approaches to discourse analysis alongside discussions of Islamic jurisprudence in order to examine and problematise the use of takfirist discursive practices by British political elites. This paper contributes to the literature on British political elites' discursive construction of the threat posed by Salafi-Jihadist terrorism and subsequent policy responses. This paper also contributes to constructivist and postructuralist approaches within Critical Terrorism Studies by analysing discursive practices used by British political elites to police the boundaries of religion. This paper focuses on statements made by British politicians which utilise takfirist discursive practices in different contexts and for a range of purposes, analysing why and how British political elites have engaged in these practices. It further suggests that this analysis has important policy implications, arguing that these discursive practices incur potential risks of which policymakers appear to be unaware.
What about hope? A critical analysis of pre-empting childhood radicalisation
By: Paul Dresser
Abstract: A convergence between vulnerability, radicalisation and children has been framed as an emergent category of abuse: “childhood radicalisation”. Focusing on the UK PREVENT programme, this paper explores the ways children have become interrelated with counter-radicalisation. While PREVENT engages with people of all ages, Home Office data indicates children are a target group. This approach has been consolidated through the 2015 Counter-Terrorism and Security Act which legislates PREVENT as safeguarding. Inspired by Ernst Bloch’s “ontology-of-the-not-yet”, this article draws upon critical geographies of “hope” as a theoretical tool to unpack PREVENT. I explore the productive power of PREVENT in catalysing “hopeful” forms of subjectivity; specifically, the pedagogy of PREVENT, and de-radicalisation through Channel. The article then extends Bloch’s original apparatus to examine the ways hope acts as an assemblage of affects to enact practices of control. It is the reciprocal influence of hope, fear and anticipatory security that helps illuminate how PREVENT makes visible, and thus regulates, processes of becoming. The article traverses disciplines encompassing criminology, critical geography, critical international relations, and critical terrorism studies. This inter-disciplinary approach usefully captures PREVENT in terms of performativity, anticipatory security and the figuration of the child.
Emotions and affect in terrorism research: Epistemological shift and ways ahead
By: Maéva Clément
Abstract: From the perspective of emotion and affect research, a double paradox structures the study of terrorism. The first paradox consists in assuming terrorist violence’s clear psychological impact without unpacking its affective workings. The second relates to the presumption of organisations’ strategically rational turn to terrorist violence, thereby emptying accounts of non-state actors’ motivations of complex, intersubjective emotional dynamics. The article argues that an epistemological shift is necessary in terrorism research to question the relationship between emotions/affects and knowledge/power. Drawing on concepts and theoretical engagements from emotion and affect research in global politics, the article interrogates how emotions/affects inform political agency and how researchers may explore their complex, diffuse, and partly contradictory sociopolitical effects. The article illustrates the value of such theoretical engagements by turning to two examples, in which the performance of (non-state) collective emotions, on one side, and the state politics of emotion, on the other, highlight the ambiguous political effects of emotions/affects.
Defence and Peace Economics (Volume 32, Issues 1 & 2)
Resident Terrorist Groups, Military Aid, and Moral Hazard: Further Empirical Analysis
By: Wukki Kim, Dong Li, Todd Sandler
Abstract: This paper revisits moral hazard associated with military aid given to host countries to eliminate their resident terrorist groups. This conflict aid presents recipient countries with perverse incentives because the aid ends once resident groups are removed. In the case of US aid recipients, the longevity of resident terrorist groups rose dramatically. The current article improves on the empirics of the pioneering article by showing that the moral-hazard concerns extend to other major donors – the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Additionally, military assistance given by a collective of countries to host countries greatly reduces the moral hazard but does not eliminate it. Moreover, policy alignment or affinity between a major donor and the host aid-recipient country does not generally augment resident terrorist groups’ survival, except marginally for the United States, when other sources of military aid are allowed. We introduce other empirical and conceptual innovations for analyzing military-aid-induced moral hazard.
Do Sanctions Constrain Military Spending of Iran?
By: Sajjad F. Dizaji, Mohammad R. Farzanegan
Abstract: Do sanctions reduce military spending in Iran? To answer this question, we use annual data from 1960 to 2017 and the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) model. We show that an increase in the intensity of sanctions is associated with a larger decrease in military spending in both the short and the long run. Each level of increase in the intensity of sanctions with respect to our coding approach decreases military spending in the long run by approximately 33%, ceteris paribus. We also find that only the multilateral sanctions, in which the United States acts in conjunction with other countries to sanction Iran, have a statistically significant and negative impact on military spending of Iran in both the short and the long run. Multilateral sanctions reduce Iran’s military spending by approximately 77% in the long run, ceteris paribus. The results remain robust when controlling for other determinants of military spending such as gross domestic product (GDP), oil rents, trade openness, population, quality of political institutions, military expenditure of the Middle East region, non-military spending of government and the war period with Iraq.
Racial Selection in Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan
By: Laura Armey, Peter Berck, Jonathan Lipow
Abstract: The US Armed Forces officially desegregated in 1948. Over the following 70 years, the military has made great strides in promoting racial integration. We find evidence, however, that Black soldiers’ experience of military service still differs significantly from that of other racial and ethnic groups. Exploiting a database of administrative records for 100,000 Army personnel serving during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, we find that Blacks were less likely than other service members to have deployed, or to face intense combat if deployed, during the early phases of the campaigns.
Democratization (Volume 28, Issues 2 & 3)
United we stand, divided we rule: how political polarization erodes democracy
By: Ekim Arbatli, Dina Rosenberg
Abstract: Although there is a broad consensus among political scientists that polarization is detrimental to democracy, very few empirically investigate the links between political polarization and democratic erosion. Most studies use diversity measures that fail to capture contemporary polarization, where the society is divided into two large hostile camps. In this article, we address the gap. Theoretically, we argue that polarization increases animosity between “enemy camps,” making voters more willing to accept anti-democratic measures against the rival group. This tacit approval becomes even more pronounced during election periods, where political controversy reigns and the stakes are higher. Focusing on a specific type of electoral manipulation, we hypothesize that ceteris paribus, political polarization is strongly associated with higher levels of government intimidation of the opposition. We expect this relationship to be stronger in democracies than in autocracies. Empirically, we create our own measure of political polarization based on Esteban and Ray’s widely accepted measure, and test our hypotheses on panel data. In addition to the regression analysis, we offer anecdotal evidence from Turkey, Hungary, and the United States.
Democracy and human development: issues of conceptualization and measurement
By: John Gerring, Carl Henrik Knutsen, Matthew Maguire, Svend-Erik Skaaning, Jan Teorell, Michael Coppedge
Abstract: This study attempts to reconcile competing positions in an important debate about the relationship between regime type and human development. We contend that this empirical relationship is contingent upon issues of conceptualization and measurement in democracy. First, the relationship is more likely to be perceived when democracy is measured in a nuanced fashion, taking account of gradations of democracy and autocracy. Second, some aspects of democracy – those associated with competitive elections – are more strongly associated with human development than others. Third, the components of electoral democracy interact in a reinforcing manner. Finally, the impact of democracy on human development is a distal relationship that depends upon a country’s entire regime history. Our approach draws on several new datasets that interrogate change across a century, enhancing empirical leverage on this important question. To measure human development, we employ the Gapminder project, covering most sovereign countries from 1900 to 2012. To measure democracy, we draw on Varieties of Democracy data, which measure democracy in a highly differentiated fashion for most sovereign countries from 1900 to the present. An extensive set of analyses offer strong corroboration for the argument.
The dark side of regionalism: how regional organizations help authoritarian regimes to boost survival
By: Maria J. Debre
Abstract: The international dimension of authoritarian resilience is receiving increased attention by scholars of comparative politics and international relations alike. Research suggests that autocratic states exploit regionalism to boost domestic regime security. This article explains how membership in regional organizations can help to strengthen survival chances of autocratic incumbent elites. It argues that membership provides additional material, informational, and ideational resources to autocratic incumbents that can be used to boost domestic survival strategies vis-à-vis internal and external challengers. The article provides qualitative case-based evidence to show how autocratic incumbents in Zimbabwe, China, and Bahrain have benefited from the involvement of regional organizations during moments of political instability to strengthen legitimation, repression, co-optation, and international appeasement strategies. The article thereby provides the first encompassing explanation linking regionalism and authoritarian survival politics that is applicable across regions and different types of authoritarian regimes.
Introducing authoritarian diasporas: causes and consequences of authoritarian elite dispersion
By: James Loxton, Timothy Power
Abstract: Scholarship on democratization has made significant progress in theorizing the trajectories of former authoritarian elites, with considerable attention given to authoritarian successor parties in particular. However, the literature has largely failed to contend with cases in which the cohort of former authoritarian officials scatters widely across the political system. We identify these patterns of dispersion as authoritarian diasporas and investigate their potential causes and consequences. In launching a new research agenda on this understudied phenomenon, we review not only contending causes for elite defection from authoritarian ruling parties, but also various options for political reincarnation of these officials (e.g. new party creation, colonization of existing parties, and independent candidacies). We hypothesize that the initial decision to defect is contingent upon a number of intervening regime- and individual-level variables. The destinations of former authoritarian incumbents are shaped by regime legacies, personal political resources, and institutional rules. We conclude by reflecting on the ways in which authoritarian diasporas are likely to be more harmful to democracy than the continued presence of an authoritarian successor party.
Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (Volume 14, Issue 1)
Preventive medicine: domestic repression and foreign revolutionary states
By: Christopher Linebarger
Abstract: Do governments repress in order to defend themselves against the threat posed by the geographic proximity of victorious rebel forces? I theorize that the victory of rebel forces in armed conflict, and the subsequent creation of a revolutionary regime, provides a model for mobilization to would-be rebels and that this, in turn, leads government authorities to deploy domestic repression in order to defend themselves. This relationship is conditional upon the international assertiveness of revolutionary regimes, as well as their geographic proximity to the threatened state. Revolutionary regimes that provide assistance to foreign rebels are regarded as more threatening by status-quo states, as are those that are geographically proximate. I undertake a data analysis of state-year patterns of repression and find significant support for my theoretical expectations. My findings have implications for the study of counter-revolution, supporting the notion that state repression is, in part, a function of international threat.
How pro-government militia ethnic relationships influence violence against civilians
By: Justin Schon, Yehuda Magid
Abstract: How do ethnic links between governments and pro-government militias (PGMs) affect the abusive behaviour of PGMs? PGMs may recruit irrespective of ethnic group (Non-Ethnic PGMs), from the ethnic group that controls the government (Dominant PGMs), from quiescent groups not in control of the government (Peripheral PGMs), and from ethnic groups actively rebelling against the government (Defector PGMs). PGMs recruited on ethnic lines tend to have informal relationships with the government, so they often help the government avoid accountability for civilian targeting. Examining ethnic relationships rather than whether the relationship is informal or semi-official, however, reveals important nuances. Defector PGMs are both able to target selectively and are deterred from being too abusive. Peripheral PGMs can target civilians more frequently, but they tend to lack the capacity to carry out large-scale massacres. Dominant PGMs can and do carry out large-scale massacres, but they target civilians less frequently because they only act when government accountability is not a concern. Regression analysis of a global group-year dataset of PGM abuses (1989–2007) supports these expectations. Our analysis demonstrates the value of considering PGM ethnic relationships with the government.
‘Does peacekeeping deter terrorism?’
By: Anna Kruglova
Abstract: This article examines the effect of the presence of UN peacekeeping forces on the scale of domestic terrorist violence in civil war-torn countries. By employing matching and regression analysis, I explore two samples: one contains information about countries during the active phase of fighting (in-war); and the other relates to after the fighting has finished. I find that the presence of UN peacekeepers during the active phase of fighting has no significant effect on the number of terrorist attacks, but it decreases the number of terrorist attacks after the war is over.
Delegating repression?: Pro-government militias and domestic terrorism
By: Harrison Akins
Abstract: Scholars have increasingly disaggregated domestic terrorism from transnational terrorism and sought to understand the causal factors of the former by focusing on endogenous features of the state and the actions of the government that either provoke or create opportunities for the occurrence of domestic terrorist attacks, especially repressive actions of the government. These arguments are implicitly framed by a unitary view of the state within intra-state conflict. The conflict literature, however, has increasingly looked beyond this unitary view and examined the role and impact of pro-government militias (PGMs) as a tactical means of increasing the state’s ability to wage violence. Using negative binomial analysis of data on domestic terrorism and PGMs, this article demonstrates that PGM activity that serves as a force multiplier for official security forces increases the likelihood of an increase in domestic terrorism, an argument that is robust to various model specifications.
European Journal of International Relations (Volume 27, Issues 1 & 2)
The (de)legitimation of torture: rhetoric, shaming and narrative contestation in two British cases
By: Frank Foley
Abstract: Existing studies on democracies’ involvement in torture emphasise how governments have been able to circumvent the international anti-torture norm and shape public discourse on the issue through powerful rhetorical strategies of denial and exception. Less attention has been paid, however, to the rhetoric of opponents of torture and how it impacts on governments and security agencies. This article proposes a typology of four common arguments against torture, which make use variously of ethical, utilitarian and ‘shaming’ rhetoric. These arguments often take a narrative form and are extensively contested by governments. Drawing on the literature on rhetorical coercion, I argue that anti-torture narratives can play an important role in constraining democratic states and significantly reducing their perpetration of torture. Yet the multiplicity of narratives at play opens up opportunities for governments to accept some messages against torture while simultaneously contesting others in a way which enables them to continue their involvement in torture. I develop this argument through a comparative analysis of the role of torture in two British counterterrorism campaigns – against Irish republican terrorism in the 1970s and against jihadist violence after 9/11. Differences in the content and salience of the narratives advanced by critics of the government during the two time periods explain much about why the British government contested some arguments against torture, but accepted others. This variation helps to explain in turn why British security agencies carried out coercive interrogations on a wide scale during the 1970s, while their perpetration of torture was significantly reduced in the post-9/11 case.
The ontological threat of foreign fighters
By: Raphaël Leduc
Abstract: The threat represented by foreign fighters to their home state has rarely materialised, yet states have increasingly legislated against foreign fighters over the course of the last 300 years. This observation points to the act of legislating as fulfilling some function other than the protection of the state against a physical threat presented by foreign fighter returnees. This paper asks what is problematic about foreign-fighter returnees from the point of view of lawmakers if they do not represent a physical threat? It argues that returnees generate ontological insecurity on the part of lawmakers. Consequently, the act of legislating against them serves to reify the identity of individual lawmakers. This argument is supported using historical case comparison of Westminster parliamentary debates on foreign fighting. This paper finds that what is at stake in foreign-fighter legislation is not the physical security of the national state but the ontological security of lawmakers. These findings point to the need for a shift of the research on foreign fighters that moves beyond the potential terrorist threat they represent to an understanding of what they mean for International Relations.
The prejudice first model and foreign policy values: racial and religious bias among conservatives and liberals
By: Richard Hanania, Robert Trager
Abstract: Scholars who study public opinion and American foreign policy have accepted what Rathbun et al. (2016) call the “Vertical Hierarchy Model,” which says that policy attitudes are determined by more abstract moral ideas about right and wrong. This article turns this idea on its head by introducing the Prejudice First Model, arguing that foreign policy preferences and orientations are driven by attitudes toward the groups being affected by specific policies. Three experiments are used to test the utility of this framework. First, when conservatives heard about Muslims killing Christians, as opposed to the opposite scenario, they were more likely to support a humanitarian intervention and agree that the United States has a moral obligation to help those persecuted by their governments. Liberals showed no religious preference. When the relevant identity group was race, however, liberals were more likely to want to help blacks persecuted by whites, while conservatives showed no racial bias. In contrast, the degree of persecution mattered relatively little to respondents in either experiment, and the effects of moral foundations were shown to be generally weak relative to those of prejudice. In another experiment, conservatives adopted more isolationist policies after reading a text about the country becoming more liberal, as opposed to a paragraph that said the United States was a relatively conservative country. While not necessarily contradicting the Vertical Hierarchy Model, the results indicate that under most conditions the Prejudice First Model presents a better lens through which to understand how foreign policy preferences are formed.
Confronting the caliphate? Explaining civil resistance in jihadist proto-states
By: Isak Svensson, Daniel Finnbogason
Abstract: Research has shown the potential of nonviolent civil resistance in challenging autocratic state regimes (e.g. Sharp, 1973; Chenoweth and Stephan, 2011). Yet, little is known about its applicability in jihadist proto-states, that is, territories governed by militant jihadist groups. We argue that civil resistance is more likely to occur when jihadists impose a rule that local populations perceive as alien and when organizational structures capable of collective nonviolent mobilization are activated. We develop this argument through a comparative analysis of three jihadist proto-states: one in which manifest and organized civil resistance occurred (Islamic Emirate of Azawad in Mali in 2012), and two in which it did not: the Islamic State of Iraq (2006–2008) and the Islamic Principality of al-Mukalla in Yemen (2015–2016). Whereas the former was met with mainly armed resistance (the Sunni Awakening campaign), the latter saw neither armed nor unarmed organized and collective resistance by locals under its rule. We demonstrate how variation in the jihadists’ governing strategies (especially the degree of adaptation to local conditions) as well as in the social structures for mobilization (i.e. whether opposition was channeled through civil society networks or tribal networks) created different conditions for civil resistance. This study adds to a growing research discussion on civil resistance against rebel governance (e.g. Arjona, 2015; Kaplan, 2017). More broadly, our study is an innovative first attempt to bridge research on terrorism, rebel governance, and civil resistance, three fields that have been siloed in previous research.
Global Change, Peace & Security (Volume 33, Issue 1)
No more Iraqs: analysing use of force decisions during the Obama administration
By: Kelly A. McHugh
Abstract: In this article, I focus on a subset of Obama’s foreign policy views, namely his beliefs about the appropriate circumstances under which the United States should engage in armed conflict. I argue that the Iraq war served as a formative event in the development of Obama’s worldview. He derived distinct lessons from this policy failure, leading him to articulate a restrictive set of conditions that should be met before the United States considered intervening in the internal politics of another nation, absent a direct threat to national security. I undertake a detailed examination of two case studies – the administration’s debates leading to the 2011 intervention in Libya and the decision not to intervene in Syria in 2013 – and demonstrate how the lessons of Iraq shaped Obama’s policy choices at critical junctures in the deliberations.
Crossing Roads: The Middle East’s Security Engagement in the Horn of Africa
By: Federico Donelli, Ariel Gonzalez-Levaggi
Abstract: This paper aims to analyse the growing enlargement of the spheres of competition from the Middle East into the Horn of Africa. It does so by using insights from regional order and realist neoclassical literature to understand the expansion of regional powers into this area as the result of strategic interactions within their own region. The central argument is that the clashing interests among Middle Eastern regional powers and power asymmetry with Horn of Africa countries are driving an increased security interdependence between the two Red Sea shores. This increasing security engagement by competing Middle Eastern states is producing an insecurity spillover which threatens to exacerbate regional instability in the Horn. It also presents a new role for Middle Eastern regional powers as security providers, particularly in the case of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Turkey. To substantiate this argument, the paper analyses interregional security dynamics by focusing on three empirical cases in the 2015–2020 period: The Gulf Cooperation Council’s crisis, the establishment of a Turkish military bases in the Horn of Africa and Israel’s new diplomatic engagement in Eastern Africa.
Sudan and South Sudan: an unamicable political divorce
By: Bantayehu Shiferaw Chanie
Abstract: South Sudan became a juridical state in July 2011. Its statehood materialised after protracted north-south civil wars were brought to an end by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA set forth self-rule for an interim period and a referendum on independence for the South Sudanese in January 2011. While the two states split peacefully, post-separation relations between the Sudans has been complicated. This paper explores the unamicable political divorce of South Sudan from Sudan. It examines the key post-separation issues that have remained sources of contention and conflict between the Sudans. Based on a qualitative approach, and primary and secondary sources of data, the paper argues that border claims over Abyei and Heglig/Panthou, the politics of oil, mutual subversion, historical grievances, and internal political dynamics continue to drag the two countries into conflict. It argues that because of their importance to the socio-economic and political vitality to both states, border claims and oil remain particularly important in shaping relations between the Sudans. Unless managed properly, based on a win-win approach, the divergence on outstanding issues will exacerbate state building challenges in the world’s newest state of South Sudan.
Modern terrorism: motives of individual terrorists or the strategies of terrorist groups?
By: Tim Höflinger
Abstract: In most cases, terrorism must be considered as an outcome of both individual motives and strategic considerations on an organisational or group level. Whether the (strategic) intentions of a group or individual motives constitute the main driver varies with the different sources of motivation behind terrorism. The robustness and consistency of proclaimed political agendas of terror groups differ significantly and, therefore, also their ‘strategic’ use of terrorism. Overall, one can argue that today groups represent the main drivers behind global terrorism as they account for the vast majority of attacks and casualties. However, one can also identify a growing blurring of boundaries between the actions of terror organisations and independently acting terrorists facilitated through modern communication technology.
Government and Opposition (Volume 56, Issue 2)
Inequality under Authoritarian Rule
By: Terence K. Teo
Abstract: Since the turn of the century, much comparative politics scholarship has examined whether and how income inequality affects the prospects of democratization and, to a lesser extent, whether democracy reduces inequality. What is lacking, however, is a close examination of the extent of income inequality in authoritarian regimes. This article examines the variation in inequality across authoritarian regimes and argues that electoral competition – in conjunction with party ideology and the extent of party institutionalization – helps explain the pattern of inequality under authoritarian rule. I find that electoral authoritarian (EA) regimes – regimes in which multiple parties legally compete in elections – have lower levels of inequality compared to non-EA regimes. I further find that inequality is lower in EA regimes with left-leaning ruling parties and more institutionalized party systems. This analysis highlights the value of exploring the dynamics and contingent effects of electoral competition in authoritarian regimes.
International Interactions (Volume 47, Issue 2)
Should I stay or should I go? The decision to flee or stay home during civil war
By: Alex Braithwaite, Joseph M. Cox, Faten Ghosn
Abstract: The literature on forced migration reveals a linkage between conflict-related violence and displacement. However, it often neglects the potential that variable forms of violence have differential impacts on the decision to flee violence. Moreover, there is a mobility bias in the empirical literature, whereby analyses often focus upon individuals that leave their homes, neglecting to assess factors influencing decisions to remain at home during conflict. To address these dynamics, we focus upon Lebanon, which experienced a civil war between 1975 and 1990. We leverage a survey of 2,400 Lebanese residents who lived through the civil war. Our analyses suggest different forms of violence play distinct roles in the decisions taken by individuals who remained at home, those that fled internally, and those that fled abroad as refugees.
Abuse by association: migration from terror-prone countries and human rights abuses
By: Nazli Avdan, Naji Bsisu, Amanda Murdie
Abstract: A burgeoning body of work examines the connection between migration and security. Studies link migration to an increased volume of terrorism in destination states. More recent work examines the humanitarian consequences for political migrants and shows that refugees confront repression by state agents in recipient states. We argue that these consequences can generalize to society writ large and may point to a broader erosion of human rights. We build on and expand this line of work by examining the effects of migration on the abuse of physical integrity rights in destination states. Using a cross-national longitudinal sample from 1980 to 2010, we show that while overall migration has no pernicious effects, migration flows from terror-prone states are associated with reduced physical integrity rights provision in destination states. Contrary to intuition, we find that migration from culturally dissimilar origin states has no negative consequences. These results refine our understanding of the migration-security nexus by showing that fears over terrorism drive the deleterious consequences of migration. Our paper also contributes to the human rights literature by demonstrating that the link between migrants and terrorism affects the rights not just of foreigners but also those of destination citizens.
Willful ignorance in international coercion
By: David Lindsey
Abstract: Intelligence gathering presents a dilemma when states attempt military coercion. New information may bolster the case for war and the credibility of threats to fight. But it may also undermine the case for war, thereby preventing states from achieving their aims through coercive threats. I argue that this incentivizes leaders to decline to gather available information about the state of the world when they hold threats to fight that are initially credible. Leaders who engage in such willful ignorance may blunder into war, but they can also achieve “coercion through ignorance,” forcing their opponents to make otherwise unavailable concessions. When conditions appear favorable initially, this tradeoff favors ignorance. I apply the model to the US invasion of Iraq, arguing that the Bush administration deliberately declined to gather relevant information as part of a strategy of coercion aimed at Saddam Hussein’s removal from power short of war.
Rebel command and control, time, and rebel group splits
By: Minnie M. Joo, Bumba Mukherjee
Abstract: Fractious splits of rebel groups debilitate the military capacity of these organizations which increases their vulnerability to anti-rebel operations. Despite the risks of disunity and the battlefield advantages of remaining cohesive, our new global sample of rebel groups (1980–2014) reveals that two-fifths of these (but not the remaining) groups have split into distinct, competing factions. Why and when do some rebel groups split, while other groups remain cohesive? Unlike previous research on rebel fragmentation, we argue that the extent of centralization of the rebel groups command-and-control structure together with the group’s “age” influences the propensity of rebel group splits. The organizational features of rebel groups with high command-and-control centralization lead to internal blame-game politics when these groups age, which encourages the supreme leader to amass power and curtail the other leaders’ decision-making authority. This induces the alienated leaders to split the parent rebel organization to form a new rebel group. In contrast, the organizational structure of moderate and weakly centralized rebel groups promotes mutual interdependence among leaders as well as between these leaders and sub-commanders over time. This reduces the likelihood of splits of these groups. Results from our new rebel-group-year data provide robust statistical support for these predictions.
Rivalry, ethnicity, and asylum admissions worldwide
By: Lamis Abdelaaty
Abstract: Why do countries welcome some refugees and treat others poorly? Existing explanations suggest that the assistance refugees receive is a reflection of countries’ wealth or compassion. However, statistical analysis of a global dataset on asylum admissions shows that states’ approaches to refugees are shaped by foreign policy and ethnic politics. States admit refugees from adversaries in order to weaken those regimes, but they are reluctant to accept refugees from friendly states. At the same time, policymakers favor refugee groups who share their ethnic identity. Aside from addressing a puzzling real-world phenomenon, this article adds insights to the literature on the politics of migration and asylum.
International Political Sociology (Volume 15, Issue 1)
Affect and the Response to Terror: Commemoration and Communities of Sense
By: Angharad Closs Stephens, Martin Coward, Samuel Merrill, Shanti Sumartojo
Abstract: This article examines affective responses to terror and the emergence of communities of sense in the commemoration of such attacks. We challenge the predominant framing of responses to terror which emphasize security and identity. We focus on the singular response by the city of Manchester in the aftermath of the 2017 Arena bombing, drawing on fieldwork conducted at the 1-year anniversary commemorative events. Our discussion focuses on the ways improvised, transient communities crystallized around the cultural significance of music during these events. The article explores these communities of sense through two case studies: those drawn together around the figure of Ariane Grande; and those assembled through a mass sing-along. In contrast to national or municipal responses to terror which orchestrate affect to establish narratives about security, borders and identity, we argue for the importance of paying attention to the improvised, affective ways in which people respond to terror. These plural, affective responses suggest another form of collective subjectivity. They also demonstrate the transient, plural, and everyday ways in which politics is practiced, assembled, and negotiated by different publics in response to terror.
Digital Humanitarianism and the Visual Politics of the Refugee Camp: (Un)Seeing Control
By: Delf Rothe, Christiane Fröhlich, Juan Miguel Rodriguez Lopez
Abstract: Digital visual technologies have become an important tool of humanitarian governance. They allow the monitoring of crises from afar, making it possible to detect human rights violations and refugee movements, despite a crisis area being inaccessible. However, the political effects of such “digital humanitarianism” are understudied. This article aims to amend this gap by analyzing which forms of seeing, showing, and governing refugee camps are enabled by digital technologies. To this end, the article combines scholarship on the politics of the refugee camp with the emerging body of work on digital humanitarianism. It proposes the notion of a “visual assemblage of the refugee camp” to conceptualize the increasing adoption of visual technologies in refugee camp governance. Using the two paradigmatic cases of Zaatari and Azraq, two refugee camps for displaced Syrians in Jordan, the text outlines how this visual assemblage enacts the refugee camp in different ways—thus bringing about different versions of the camp. The case study reveals three such enactments of the refugee camp—as a technology of care and control; as a political space; and, as a governmental laboratory—and discusses how these interact and clash in everyday camp life.
International Studies Perspectives (Volume 22, Issue 2)
Studying International Relations through Horror Films: A New Approach and Illustrations from Cannon Fodder and Freak Out
By: Oren Barak, Daphne Inbar
Abstract: This paper argues that works of popular culture, specifically horror films, offer valuable insights into dominant and critical perceptions of the sources of violence in ongoing armed conflicts—an issue of concern for scholars of International Relations (IR) scholars, which as yet has not received sufficient attention. Accordingly, we present a new approach that IR scholars can utilize in their analysis of works of popular culture, applying it to two recent horror films from Israel/Palestine: Cannon Fodder (2013, dir. Eitan Gafny) and Freak Out (2015, dir. Boaz Armoni). The analysis of these films, combined with a discussion of films dealing with violence from other contexts, reveals how works of popular culture in general, and horror films in particular, can help address the question of whether violence in armed conflicts is perceived as endogenous or exogenous to the groups involved. This can also shed light on specific issues, such as the connection between social representation and violence, the link between the use of military technology and violence, and the blurred boundaries between endogenous and exogenous sources of violence.
International Studies Quarterly (Volume 65, Issue 1)
Foreign Fighters and Conflict-Related Sexual Violence
By: Austin C Doctor
Abstract: Do foreign fighters increase the prevalence of rebel-inflicted sexual violence? Evidence from recent armed conflicts indicates that this may be the case. However, little is known regarding the generalizability and nature of this relationship. This article argues that foreign fighters present local insurgencies with both strategic benefits—i.e., a reduced dependency on local civilians for material support—and organizational challenges—i.e., threats to intra-group cohesion. In combination, these factors increase local rebel commanders’ willingness to institute policies and oversee practices of sexual violence. I test this theory with a mixed methods research design. In the first stage, I estimate a series of ordinal logistic regression models with a sample of 143 rebel groups active from 1989 to 2011. In the second stage, I investigate further with a case study of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Together, the results demonstrate that when foreign fighters are present in the rank and file, a rebel group is likely to perpetrate more prevalent levels of sexual violence. In addition to explaining group-level differences in rebel-inflicted sexual violence, this study demonstrates how local rebel commanders adjust their internal management strategies to the presence of foreign recruits.
Rethinking Authoritarian Power: The Logistics Space and Authoritarian Practices in and between Secondary Port Cities of the Global South
By: Alke Jenss, Benjamin Schuetze
Abstract: How to rethink authoritarian power in ways that better account for authoritarian connections beyond nation-state boundaries? By reconceptualizing the context in which to analyze authoritarian power, we bring to light transregional authoritarian connections between the secondary port cities Aqaba/Jordan and Buenaventura/Colombia. We demonstrate that processes of privatization and a continuum of pre-emptive, technocratizing, and repressive authoritarian practices with the overall purpose of enabling capital accumulation occur in a remarkably entangled manner in both locales, even if located at seemingly unconnected geographical sites. By thinking of Aqaba and Buenaventura as occupying the same “transregional authoritarian logistics space” (TALS), we understand Buenaventura through Aqaba, and vice versa. This crisscrossing of established notions of context has important implications for our understanding of authoritarianism and future transregional research designs. As a unit of analysis, the TALS allows us to highlight the role of global logistics players and “developmental aid” agencies—actors rarely discussed in literature on authoritarianism—in rearticulating boundaries within and beyond the nation-state based on class and race. Our contribution calls for an understanding of authoritarian power as transregionally entangled, rather than separate and limited to the nation-state and builds on literatures on authoritarian practices, authoritarian neoliberalism, critical logistics, and transregional connections.
The Recognition Dilemma: Negotiating Identity in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict
By: Joshua Freedman
Abstract: During five years of US-sponsored Israeli–Palestinian peace talks (2009–2014), Israeli PM Netanyahu repeatedly demanded that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of any final status agreement. Simultaneously, a chorus of Israeli political and military elites consistently challenged this negotiating posture as a threat to the state's very identity. What explains these competing positions on recognition's absence and necessity? Considerable attention in IR has recently focused on the lengths states go to correct acts of misrecognition, out of a genuine need for recognition, and the self-certainty recognition provides in a socially uncertain world. This structural and intrinsic model neglects, however, the powerful role agents can play in constructing, or avoiding, recognition conflict. Political considerations can cause recognition, and its absence, to matter more than it otherwise should, just as they can cause others to view recognition campaigns as vulnerable and ontologically harmful pursuits. This article proposes both an instrumental model of recognition and a theory on the recognition dilemma needed to explain these competing attitudes. In doing so, it shifts attention away from social structure, and relations, in order to take domestic processes seriously as a forum for both the construction and contestation of recognition politics.
Enemies in the Shadows: On the Origins and Survival of Clandestine Clients
By: Andrew Boutton, Thomas M Dolan
Abstract: States often use covert operations to undermine their adversaries. This strategy involves, among other methods, intelligence organizations directing and supporting the operations of covert networks residing within the target state. This was a common occurrence during the Cold War, but covert clients also operate in modern conflicts in Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere. This paper introduces and defines covert clients as a distinct and novel concept. We then use original data on more than 250 clandestine networks within the French Resistance to investigate the determinants of covert client success and failure. We find that clients founded by foreign operatives inserted into the target state fail at significantly higher rates than those that establish themselves organically within the target state, although this effect diminishes among stronger groups. We corroborate these findings with a case study of the Prosper network to demonstrate how clandestine group origins influence their local knowledge, incentives, and security practices. This study uses original data to provide novel insights into clandestine group survival by linking survival to group origins. In demonstrating the potential utility of focusing on the conduct of covert operations, we also contribute to a rapidly growing international relations literature on how states project power through covert action.
Give Peace a Plan: Peace Plans as Diplomatic Tools and Textual Agents in Conflict Areas
By: Lior Lehrs
Abstract: Various conflict areas have faced situations of deadlock after repeated rounds of violence and failed negotiations. In such cases, international actors have used the strategy of drafting, presenting, and promoting a peace plan that addresses the main issues in the conflict and formulates a basis for negotiation and agreement. The article analyzes peace plans as a strategy in peacemaking, international intervention, and mediation processes in conflict areas, using four case studies: The Contact Group's plan for Bosnia (1994); US President Bill Clinton's plan for Israel–Palestine (2000); United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan for Cyprus (2004); and United Nations Envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan for Kosovo (2007). The article examines the peace plans as a diplomatic strategy and international practice and explores their influence as a “textual agency” in the long term. It finds that peace plans, though shaped by a specific context, can under certain conditions take on an independent life and have a long-term impact, even if they were rejected and had failed in the short term. The research traces the influence of the plans in various spheres and identifies the main factors that explain the variance in their afterlives.
The Puzzle of Militia Containment in Civil War
By: Brandon Bolte
Abstract: In most contemporary civil wars, governments collude with non-state militias as part of their counterinsurgent strategy. However, governments also restrict the capabilities of their militia allies despite the adverse consequences this may have on their overall counterinsurgent capabilities. Why do governments contain their militia allies while also fighting a rebellion? I argue that variation in militia containment during a civil war is the outcome of a bargaining process over future bargaining power between security or profit-seeking militias and states with time-inconsistent preferences. Strong states and states facing weak rebellions cannot credibly commit to not suppressing their militias, and militias with sufficient capabilities to act independently cannot credibly commit to not betraying the state. States with limited political reach and those facing strong rebellions, however, must retain militia support, which opens a “window of opportunity” for militias to augment their independent capabilities and future bargaining power. Using new data on pro-government militia containment and case illustrations of the Janjaweed in Sudan and Civil Defense Patrols in Guatemala, I find evidence consistent with these claims. Future work must continue to incorporate the agency of militias when studying armed politics, since these bargaining interactions constitute a fundamental yet undertheorized characteristic of war-torn states.
Journal of Democracy (Volume 32, Issue 2)
Why Freedom Defeats Terrorism
By: Nilay Saiya
Abstract: Since the attacks of 11 September 2001, there has been a sharp increase in attacks by Islamist terrorists. Analysts have posited a number of causes behind terrorism's global intensification, including poverty, failed states, and political unrest. One explanation, however, stands out as being uniquely important: a country's level of freedom. Freedom combats Islamist terrorism in two broad ways. First, it strikes at the root of Islamist extremism, making it more difficult for terrorists to credibly claim that their faith is under attack. Second, freedom is an effective weapon of counterterrorism. The recognition that freedom naturally combats terrorism suggests that countries around the world have national-security interests in reversing decades of democratic backsliding.
Journal of Peace Research (Volume 58, Issue 3)
Explaining public support for violence against politicians during conflict: Evidence from a panel study in Israel
By: Julia Elad-Strenger, Brian J Hall, Brian J Hall
Abstract: What drives citizens’ support for violence against domestic political actors? Despite its potentially devastating consequences, there is surprisingly little research on the antecedents of this unique form of political violence. Building upon recent insights on the psychological implications of exposure to conflict on support for political violence, we examined the motivations underlying public support for violence against politicians in the context of protracted conflict. Using a two-wave panel design among Jewish-Israelis, we examined the interactive effects of conflict-induced perceived threat, psychological distress, and political orientation on support for violence against politicians. Consistent with previous findings on the psychological implications of conflict, our findings suggest that conflict-induced threat perceptions play an important role in predicting support for violence against politicians. Nevertheless, our findings point to important boundary conditions to these effects: the strength of the relationship between perceived threat and attitudes towards political violence is qualified by the level of chronic conflict-related psychological distress, and the direction of the effects of perceived threat is qualified by individuals’ self-placement on the left-right continuum. More specifically, we found that perceived threat increased rightists’ support and decreases leftists’ support for violence against politicians, only under high, but not low, conflict-related psychological distress. The main conclusion of this study is that support for violence against politicians can be seen as an ideology-driven protective strategy against the negative psychological implications of exposure to violent conflict. By pointing to the importance of understanding the interactive role of psychological and political factors in determining public support for such acts, our findings therefore contribute to the understanding of a relatively understudied phenomenon with potentially catastrophic effects on political stability.
Gendered preferences: How women’s inclusion in society shapes negotiation occurrence in intrastate conflicts
By: Robert Ulrich Nagel
Abstract: To what extent do gender relations in society influence the likelihood of negotiations during intrastate disputes? A substantial body of literature recognizes gendered inequalities as integral to understanding conflict, yet they have received little attention in systematic studies of conflict management. I argue that patriarchal gender relations that reflect a preference for masculinity over femininity influence states’ propensity to negotiate with rebels. I draw on the concept of practices to explain how gender relations shape government preferences for negotiations. Specifically, I contend that practices of excluding women from fully participating in public life institutionalize violence as the preferred way of managing conflict. The implication is that countries with more patriarchal gender relations are less likely to engage in negotiations during intrastate conflicts. I test this argument on all civil conflict dyads between 1975 and 2014. The analyses show that countries that marginalize women’s participation in public life are significantly less likely to engage in negotiations. The results provide strong support for my theoretical argument and offer systematic evidence in support of core claims of the feminist peace theory.
Making disorder more manageable: The short-term effectiveness of local mediation in Darfur
By: Allard Duursma
Abstract: Much of the quantitative conflict resolution literature focuses on mediation between states or on efforts to end a civil war through a comprehensive peace agreement that brings peace to the entire country. This article instead analyses the effectiveness of mediation between a wide range of armed actors on a subnational level. Utilizing unique data on Darfur covering the January 2008–August 2009 period, this article finds that mediation efforts following armed clashes in a given area significantly prolong local lulls in fighting in this area. This finding remains robust when controlling for the presence of a peacekeeping base, battle-deaths and the type of armed actors engaged in armed clashes. In addition, the finding remains robust when accounting for the non-random assignment of mediation efforts through matching similar observations in the dataset. Finally, anecdotal evidence from sites of armed conflict beyond Darfur suggest that the findings from this study might also hold in other armed conflicts.
Pathways to water conflict during drought in the MENA region
By: Tobias Ide, Miguel Rodriguez Lopez, Christiane Fröhlich, Jürgen Scheffran
Abstract: As hydro-meteorological hazards are predicted to become more frequent and intense in the future, scholars and policymakers are increasingly concerned about their security implications, especially in the context of ongoing climate change. Our study contributes to this debate by analysing the pathways to water-related conflict onset under drought conditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region between 1996 and 2009. It is also the first such analysis that focuses on small-scale conflicts involving little or no physical violence, such as protests or demonstrations. These nonviolent conflicts are politically relevant, yet understudied in the literature on climate change and conflict, environmental security, and political instability. We employ the method of qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) to integrate quantitative and qualitative data at various scales (national, regional, local) for a sample of 34 cases (17 of which experienced conflict onset). Our findings show that pre-existing cleavages and either autocratic political systems or cuts of the public water supply are relevant predictors of nonviolent, water-related conflict onset during droughts. Grievances deeply embedded into socio-economic structures in combination with a triggering event like a drought or water cuts are hence driving such water-related conflicts, especially in the absence of proper political institutions. We thus argue that drought–conflict links are highly context-dependent even for nonviolent, local conflicts, hence challenging determinist narratives that claim direct interlinkages between climate change, hydro-meteorological disasters and conflict.
New Left Review (Issue 128)
A Small World War
By: Georgi Derluguian
Abstract: At the intersection of Eurasia’s pre-modern empires, Transcaucasia has long been a battlezone. With the waning of American-led globalization, and its legacy of militarization, are their avatars—Russia, Turkey, Iran—re-emerging, equipped with Israeli drones? Georgi Derluguian locates the 2020 war for Nagorno Karabagh in the geopolitical longue durée.
Polity (Volume 53, Issue 2)
Combatting Suspicion, Creating Trust: The Interface of Muslim Communities and Law Enforcement in the United States after 9/11
By: Sangay Mishra, Jinee Lokaneeta
Abstract: After 9/11, law enforcement agencies in Southern California attempted to implement trust and cooperation approaches toward Muslim communities as part of counterterrorism policing. Based on interviews with key law enforcement officials and Muslim community leaders, alongside analysis of legal cases, reports, and media coverage, we argue that these trust and cooperation approaches have failed for three main reasons. First, law enforcement agencies failed to separate community outreach and intelligence gathering, and second, local and federal agencies engaged in extensive coordination in the name of efficiency. Both of these actions have led to hostility and distrust within the Muslim communities. Finally, dissident values from the Muslim communities found little space within the trust and cooperation forums, thereby requiring them to challenge unfair practices from outside.
PS: Political Science & Politics (Volume 54, Issue 2)
Teaching the Military and Revolutions: Simulating Civil–Military Relations during Mass Uprisings
By: Kristen A. Harkness, Marc R. DeVore
Abstract: During revolutions, strategic interactions among civilian policy makers, armed forces, and opposition groups shape political outcomes—most important, whether a regime stands or falls. Students from advanced industrial democracies frequently find these dynamics counterintuitive, even after completing readings and engaging in traditional instruction methods. We therefore sought to improve pedagogical outcomes by designing a simulation based on scenarios similar to those witnessed during the Arab Spring and Ukraine’s Euromaidan Revolution. We divided students into four teams representing the regime, the armed forces, and two distinct groups of anti-regime dissidents. Rules were designed to incorporate the best recent scholarship on each category of actors’ behavior, such as the probability of military units defecting to protesters and the ability of riot police to repress urban uprisings. By forcing student teams to make decisions under time pressure, we obliged them to wrestle with the uncertainties and fears of betrayal inherent in complex civil–military emergencies.
Security Studies (Volume 30, Issue 2)
Pax Petrolica? Rethinking the Oil–Interstate War Linkage
By: Hye Ryeon Jang, Benjamin Smith
Abstract: In the last decade resource curse scholars have argued widely that oil-rich countries are more likely to initiate armed disputes with their neighbors. In this essay, we argue that the evidence points toward oil peace, not conflict, as a function of both domestic and international factors. We draw on analyses of our own dataset and two from past studies to show that the data is more supportive of petro-peace than of petro-aggression. We also demonstrate that the Iran–Iraq War is singularly responsible for what was believed to have been a radical-petro-aggression effect globally. We conclude that, to the extent that evidence suggests a trend, it is more likely for a Pax Petrolica.
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism (Volume 44, Issues 3-5)
Jihadiship: From Radical Behavior to Radical Beliefs
By: Marco Nilsson
Abstract: Jihadism is a complex social phenomenon that changes people, but not always uniformly. This article argues that cognitive and behavioral radicalization can be seen as a discursive journey or jihadiship involving (e)merging ideas, problems, and solutions that change with encounters with new circumstances—both material and immaterial. The differences observed between various generations of jihadists are one manifestation of this complexity. Especially in a jihadi group, the processes of radicalization are bound to continue and take new forms, compared with those experienced in the West. Another example of the complexity of jihadiship is that not only can radical ideas lead to radical behavior, but also radical behavior can increasingly give rise to radical ideas in jihadi groups.
Does Domestic Political Instability Foster Terrorism? Global Evidence from the Arab Spring Era (2011–14)
By: Michael J. Schumacher, Peter J. Schraeder
Abstract: This article explores the intellectual puzzle of whether the domestic political instability associated with the Arab Spring is responsible for a surge in global terrorism that peaked in 2014. A series of negative binomial regressions demonstrate strong support for an “escalation effect”: more severe forms of domestic political instability, most notably government purges and riots, breed greater levels of terrorism, although the most severe form of domestic political instability—revolution—does not. We also find that specific types of domestic political instability affect terrorism levels differently depending on geographical region and regime type (i.e., democracy versus dictatorship).
Sexual Suppression and Political Agency: Evoking a Woman’s Support for the Islamic State
By: Nadia Al-Dayel
Abstract: This article explores the gender dynamics of recruitment materials published by the so-called Islamic State. Through an investigation of the Islamic State’s only female-authored column in Dabiq, it reveals how a unique “voice” evokes support by urging readers to consider their agency in both the citizen–state relationship and the husband–wife patriarchal structure. It utilizes an original method of contextualizing narratives through reflexivity and responsivity. Overall, it reveals that an analysis of contemporary extremist recruitment materials must consider the mediatized environment in which it forms as well as the realistic political situations to which it responds.
Feminization of Terror: Psychological Analysis of the Role of Women in Terrorist Structures
By: Marek Bodziany, Marzena Netczuk-Gwoździewicz
Abstract: Feminization of terror is a significant issue in the light of its etiology, scale, and effects. Moreover, it is a social problem that arose in psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, and politics. This article aims to analyze only a part of this complicated matter. The article has put an emphasis on the motives that drive women to take up such a risky and dangerous practice, as well as on the specifics of their activities in four organizations: the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, Chechen Kavkazskiy Emirat, and groups associated with Islam.
When Data Do Not Matter: Exploring Public Perceptions of Terrorism
By: Erin M. Kearns, Allison E. Betus, Anthony F. Lemieux
Abstract: Public perceptions of terrorism are out of line with reality. How can perceptions be changed? Using a 4 × 2 experimental design with a national sample of U.S. adults, we examine how source of information and details provided impact views of terrorism. Sources, details, and individual-level factors—Islamophobia, trust in media, and trust in science—impact perceived accuracy of terrorism data. Many people updated their views on terrorism after reading factual information, yet only trust in science was related with this change. In short, people can be persuaded by factual information on terrorism, but it is less clear why they change beliefs.
Trends of Anashid Usage in Da‘esh Video Messaging and Implications for Identifying Terrorist Audio and Video
By: Jonathan Pieslak,,Brian Pieslak, Anthony F. Lemieux
Abstract: This article examines how Da‘esh utilizes anashid (“Islamic songs” or “recitation”) as soundtrack elements within its video messaging, focusing primarily on a sample set of 755 videos released in 2015. The authors also present the development of an automatic content recognition (ACR) tool that enabled them to engage this large data set. The article then explores the possibilities of ACR for the identification of terrorist audio and video, utilizing the conclusions drawn from the trends of audio usage in Da‘esh video messaging to support the validity and promise of such an approach.
Predicting the End of the Syrian Conflict: From Theory to the Reality of a Civil War
By: Sally Sharif
Abstract: The Syrian civil war has confounded all predictions on its end date and is still ongoing. Valuable explicative work has been done on civil war duration; however, scholars have failed to reliably predict the end of ongoing conflicts. This article argues that faulty predictions on termination date of the Syrian conflict did not necessarily result from statistical errors in modeling civil wars data and better models might not necessarily mitigate the prediction problem. Rather, three factors contributed to the misperceptions: the conflict’s cartography problem, the splintering of the opposition, and the multi-partner foreign intervention in the conflict. The last two factors can also be held accountable for prolonging the conflict. Incorrect predictions or descriptions in scholarly works on ongoing conflicts can have disastrous implications for the present and future of states and populations beset by protracted conflict. Had it been made clear that neither the insurgents nor the government had the capacity to win the war within the predicted timeframe, the international community may have taken a more decisive role in bringing belligerents to the negotiation table, improving prospects for a peaceful diplomatic settlement.
Visual Jihad: Constructing the “Good Muslim” in Online Jihadist Magazines
By: Stuart Macdonald, Nuria Lorenzo-Dus
Abstract: Images are known to have important effects on human perception and persuasion. Jihadist groups are also known to make strategic use of emotive imagery and symbolism for persuasive ends. Yet until recently studies of the online magazines published by violent jihadist groups largely focused on their textual, not their image, content and, while the image content of these magazines is now the subject of a burgeoning number of studies, few of these compare the images used by different groups. This article accordingly offers a cross-group comparison, examining the image content of a total of thirty-nine issues of five online magazines published by four different jihadist groups. Starting with a content analysis, it shows that the images’ most common focus is non-leader jihadis. Using a news values analysis, it then shows how these images of non-leader jihadis are used to visually construct the identity of a “good Muslim.” This construct is characterized by three traits, each corresponding to a different news value: fulfilled (personalization); active (consonance); and respected (prominence). Moreover, these traits are intertwined: fulfillment comes from responding actively to the call to violent jihad, which in turn promises respect. The article concludes by highlighting some subtle differences between how the news values of personalization, consonance, and prominence are realized in the different magazines, and by discussing the implications of the “good Muslim” construct for efforts to develop countermessages.
Terrorism and Political Violence (Volume 33, Issues 1 & 2)
In the Spotlight: How International Attention Affects Militant Behavior
By: Jori Breslawski
Abstract: Why do some militant groups use rhetoric that indicates intentions of democratic governance, while others are silent on these issues, or even clearly oppose them? In this article, I explore militant groups’ desire for external legitimacy, and seek to explain when they are willing to make costly promises to follow liberal norms. I argue that human rights media attention has a significant effect on group behavior. Specifically, militant groups are more likely to use democratic rhetoric when they are “in the spotlight,” which results in a higher likelihood of external legitimacy in exchange for following costly liberal norms. Using the Minorities at Risk Organizational Behavior (MAROB) data for the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Russia, as well as a historical analysis of three militant groups in Indonesia, I find that militant groups residing in areas that receive a large amount of media attention are more likely to support democratic practices.
Natural Language Understanding and Multimodal Discourse Analysis for Interpreting Extremist Communications and the Re-Use of These Materials Online
By: Peter Wignell,Kevin Chai,Sabine Tan,Kay O’Halloran, Rebecca Lange
Abstract: This paper reports on a study that is part of a project which aims to develop a multimodal analytical approach for big data analytics, initially in the context of violent extremism. The findings reported here tested the application of natural language processing models to the text of a sample of articles from the online magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah, produced by the Islamic extremist organisation ISIS. For comparison, text of articles found by reverse image search software which re-used the lead images from the original articles in text which either reported on or opposed extremist activities was also analysed. The aim was to explore what insights the natural language processing models could provide to distinguish between texts produced as propaganda to incite violent extremism and texts which either reported on or opposed violent extremism. The results showed that some valuable insights can be gained from such an approach and that these results could be improved through integrating automated analyses with a theoretical approach with analysed language and images in their immediate and social contexts. Such an approach will inform the interpretation of results and will be used in training software so that stronger results can be achieved in the future.
Terror and the Legitimation of Violence: A Cross-National Analysis on the Relationship between Terrorism and Homicide Rates
By: Alexander Kamprad, Marieke Liem
Abstract: This study investigates the relationship between terrorism and interpersonal violence by conducting cross-national analyses on the effects of terrorism mortality rates on homicide rates. Results show that terrorism appears to be robustly and positively associated with homicide. This finding is based on the calculation of a series of independently pooled and twoways fixed-effects models on a panel that incorporates more than 165 countries over 24 years (1991–2014). The results lend tentative support to the so-called “legitimation-habituation” hypothesis that was formulated in regard to the effects of security-related stress on homicide rates in Israel more than 30 years ago. The topic has been largely neglected ever since. While confirming a positive relationship between terrorism and homicide, this study concludes that a causal influence of terrorism on homicide rates is conceivable, but cannot conclusively be proven within the confines of the research design. Future research on potential mediators of the supposed effect is needed, and data limitations need to be overcome.
The Release and Community Supervision of Radicalised Offenders: Issues and Challenges that Can Influence Reintegration
By: Adrian Cherney
Abstract: This paper explores the challenges that correctional authorities encounter when dealing with the transition of offenders back into the community after the completion of terrorism-related sentences or after demonstrating extremist views or associations. It draws on research conducted in the Australian state of New South Wales that examined mechanisms to support radicalised offenders exiting custody and completing a community-based order (i.e., parole). Drawing on interviews (N = 55) conducted with correctional and other agency staff and terrorist inmates and parolees, the paper explores six issues: whether the radicalised cohort is unique in relation to supervision needs; engaging families; information sharing; assessing risk; the implications of the broader environment surrounding terrorism; and professional training and knowledge needs. Qualitative data indicate that radicalised offenders can have similar reintegration needs to mainstream offenders and that family assistance, while important, has some drawbacks. The application of intelligence in the supervision context is highlighted, as well as its limitations. Data illustrate the emerging practices and practical limitations of risk assessment. Results show how the broader social and political environment can influence supervision processes, with topics related to staff training canvassed. Broader lessons for policy and practice on the community supervision and reintegration of radicalised offenders are highlighted.
Terrorism and Bathtubs: Comparing and Assessing the Risks
By: John Mueller, Mark G. Stewart
Abstract: The likelihood that anyone outside a war zone will be killed by an Islamist extremist terrorist is extremely small. In the United States, for example, some six people have perished each year since 9/11 at the hands of such terrorists—vastly smaller than the number of people who die in bathtub drownings. Some argue, however, that the incidence of terrorist destruction is low because counterterrorism measures are so effective. They also contend that terrorism may well become more frequent and destructive in the future as terrorists plot and plan and learn from experience, and that terrorism, unlike bathtubs, provides no benefit and exacts costs far beyond those in the event itself by damagingly sowing fear and anxiety and by requiring policy makers to adopt countermeasures that are costly and excessive. This article finds these arguments to be wanting. In the process, it concludes that terrorism is rare outside war zones because, to a substantial degree, terrorists don’t exist there. In general, as with rare diseases that kill few, it makes more policy sense to expend limited funds on hazards that inflict far more damage. It also discusses the issue of risk communication for this hazard.
When to Take Credit for Terrorism? A Cross-National Examination of Claims and Attributions
By: Erin M. Kearns
Abstract: Rationalist research expects that groups claim credit for terrorism. Yet, the vast majority of attacks are not claimed. Of the unclaimed attacks, about half are attributed to a specific group. What factors impact claiming decisions? While extant literature largely treats claiming as binary—either claimed or not—the present study disaggregates claiming decisions further to also consider attacks with attributions of credit but no claim, using data from 160 countries between 1998 and 2016. Both attack-level and situational factors impact claiming decisions. Disaggregating claiming behavior shows meaningful differences. Specifically, competitive environments and suicide attacks increase claims but not attributions. Higher fatalities in general increase both claims and attributions, but when the target is civilian attributions decrease with a high body count whereas claims increase. Further, while the directional impact of other variables is the same, the magnitude of their effects vary between claims and attributions. Results are robust across modeling specifications. Findings demonstrate that our understanding of claiming behaviors is limited when claiming is treated as dichotomous. This study provides further insight into factors that impact claiming decisions for terrorism. Results can address data issues in academic research and inform counterterrorism responses.
The Case of Jihadology and the Securitization of Academia
By: Aaron Y. Zelin
Abstract: This paper goes to the heart of this special issue by exploring the case of the web site, Jihadology, which the author founded and has managed for the past ten-plus years. It explores various issues including why such a site is necessary and/or useful, questions about dissemination and open access, lessons learned about responsibility and interaction with jihadis online, the evolution of the website that has the largest repository of jihadi content, interactions with governments and technology companies and how they viewed and dealt with the website. The paper also explores how the experience gained might help other researchers interested in creating primary source-first websites to assist in their research as well as to the benefit of others in the field. Therefore, this paper aims to shed light not only on this unique case, but also on the moral and ethical questions that have arisen through maintaining the Jihadology website for more than a decade in a time of changing online environments and more recent calls for censorship.
Terrorism Confidential: Ethics, Primary Data and the Construction of “Necessary Fictions”
By: Michele Grossman, Vivian Gerrand
Abstract: Primary human sources involved with or proximate to terrorist actors can provide critical information and insights for understanding terrorist ideologies, behaviors and orientations. Yet accessing and drawing on their knowledge and experience is bound up with a range of constraints and risks. Some of these are practical, but others are either ethical, moral or both. Terrorism research can be constructed as a moral field of enquiry insofar as it proposes to generate scientifically defendable and socially useful knowledge that will help repel or mitigate the personal, social and political harms of terrorism in ways that respect human rights and freedoms. In turn, this potentially positions terrorism researchers as moral agents engaged in knowledge production for the greater collective social and political good. However, assuming the general moral orientation of terrorism researchers does not really help us understand how terrorism researchers navigate moral complexity or moral competition when faced with irreconcilable or asymmetrical ethical frameworks that can come into conflict. Indeed, terrorism researchers can become (drawing on Emmanuel Levinas’s distinction between ethics and morality) caught between “ethical” responsibility for participants on the one hand, and “moral” responsibility for the greater good, on the other. One potential response to this lies in constructing what might be called “necessary fictions” in how we represent our primary human data. However, what look like “necessary fictions” from an ethical standpoint—mitigating the vulnerability of participants through taking ethical responsibility for the others we encounter—can become shaky ground from a moral standpoint when benchmarked against expectations governing facticity and authenticity in social science research. This is a wicked problem for terrorism research: in seeking ethically to minimize vulnerabilities for participants, do such strategies create other and deeper moral vulnerabilities for the field? This paper will attempt to unpack these issues drawing on our own recent research experiences in the field of countering violent extremism.
Back to the Dark Side: Explaining the CIA’s Repeated Use of Torture
By: Adam D. Jacobson
Abstract: Since the CIA’s inception, elements of the Agency have researched, used, and taught interrogation tactics for national security and counterterrorism purposes. These have sometimes constituted torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, and ethical violations. Using the lens of Institutional Change Theory and investigating critical junctures in CIA history, this paper shows that a lack of meaningful internal and external oversight and accountability measures can explain the CIA’s recurrent use and propagation of torture and abuse in interrogation. These findings have implications for future counterterrorism interrogation policy, and preventing the use of ineffective, unethical techniques.
The Development of the Framework for Research Ethics in Terrorism Studies (FRETS)
By: John Morrison, Andrew Silke, Eke Bont
Abstract: This article introduces readers to the Framework for Research Ethics in Terrorism Studies (FRETS). FRETS has been developed to assist IRB/HREC chairs and reviewers in completing reviews of terrorism studies ethics proposals, in as objective a manner as possible. The framework consists of a series of yes/no questions for chairs and reviewers to answer before completing their reviews. These questions are divided into six different sections: participant’s right’s, safety and vulnerability; informed consent; confidentiality and anonymity; researcher’s right’s, safety and vulnerability; data storage and security-sensitive materials; and the ethical review process. This framework was developed as a result of critical analysis of the literature in terrorism research and analogous fields.
The Ethical Limits We Should Place on Intelligence Gathering as Part of an Integrated CT Strategy
By: David Omand
Abstract: This chapter first describes the importance of secret intelligence in protecting the public from terrorist attacks. The use of intelligence in deriving the strategic aim of the integrated U.K. counter-terrorism strategy, CONTEST, and supporting its delivery is examined. The ethical issues associated with the general practice of secret intelligence are identified by referencing the Just War tradition establishing ethical restraints on armed conflict. Parallels are drawn to derive jus ad intelligentiam and jus in intelligentio ethical concepts to govern the acquisition and use of secret intelligence. The chapter concludes by applying these ideas to the techniques currently in use for counter-terrorism, especially the role of digital intelligence gathering today in helping uncover terrorist networks and frustrate attacks. Specific areas of counterterrorism work that nevertheless continue to raise significant ethical issues are identified.
The Implication of Terrorism’s Extremely Low Base Rate
By: Marc Sageman
Abstract: A robust empirical finding is that global neojihadi terrorism is extremely rare in Western countries compared to other kinds of violence. Its base rate in the West is about 3 new global neojihadis per 100 million people per year. Bayesian conditional probability shows that this extremely low base rate ensures that any attempt to detect a potential global neojihadi on the basis of imperfectly specific indicators (conditions) will generate a large number of false positives. This finding has practical implications for a preventive counterterrorism strategy based on detection of potential global neojihadi terrorists using these indicators derived from counterterrorism research. Detection instruments based on them produce many false positives, namely overt sympathizers, who, absent state agents’ entrapment, never cross the line to political crime and violence. The state pursuit of false positives not only diverts scarce resources from targeting true threats but also results in unfair harassment, persecution, and even prosecution of these false positives. This paper suggests that, as scholars whose work helps craft these indicators, we have the moral duty to teach state practitioners about this relatively neglected implication of the extremely low base rate of global neojihadi terrorism.
A Public Health Ethics Model of Countering Violent Extremism
By: Neil D. Shortland, Nicholas Evans, John Colautti
Abstract: The term “countering violent extremism” (CVE) refers to a suite of proactive actions to counter efforts by extremists to recruit, radicalize, and mobilize followers to violence, and thus prevent extremist violence from occurring. In this article we explore the ethics of CVE. We begin with a description of CVE, framed within a discussion of the history (and issues) with counter-terrorism efforts post 9/11. We also outline the many and varied techniques and practices that the term CVE describes. We argue that the fundamental ethical tension in many of these forms of CVE is between the purported benefits of addressing the conditions that most likely contribute to recruitment and radicalization by violent extremists; and the potential risks of upstream interventions that might unfairly target communities and individuals or produce counterproductive outcomes. We then mount a defense of CVE on ethical grounds. Drawing from literature in public health ethics, we argue that violent extremism is a “social contagion” that shares relevant features with infectious diseases that motivate arguments for publicly-funded and even enforceable vaccination schedules. CVE is justified, we argue, to the degree it is necessary, effective, proportionate, minimally infringing on individual rights, and subject to public accountability. We assess these criteria and demonstrate that, while there are cases in which CVE is performed in an unjustifiable manner, the practice itself is in principle justified. This article concludes with an applied test of the model on a newly formed CVE program in the United States.
Counterterrorism within the Rule of Law? Rhetoric and Reality with Special Reference to the United Kingdom
By: Clive Walker
Abstract: The rule of law remains a hallowed principle even in the unpromising environment of counterterrorism, but failures to live up to rule of law rhetoric must be highlighted. As a result, one might question whether counterterrorism can realistically be conducted wholly in accordance with the rule of law. So, is the rule of law rhetoric or reality? In practice, it remains exceptional for states to resort to express or wide derogations from rule of law standards because of counterterrorism, but notable exceptions in reality undermine the rhetoric of rule of law dominion. By dissecting the rule of law into its constituent components, it is possible to gain a clearer picture of strong and weak points in the rule of law, though no single doctrine, instrument or institution can be found to offer transformational reinforcement. In view of the permanence of counterterrorism, the model required is neither one of accommodation nor an unthinking acceptance of framing ideas such as “the war on terror.” Instead, the rule of law rhetoric demands constant refinement and renewal within the mechanisms of constitutionalism in order to support the reality of rule of law. These precepts will be considered in the context of counterterrorism experiences in the United Kingdom.
Targeted Killings: Ethical & Operational Dilemmas
By: Boaz Ganor
Abstract: The use of targeted killings as a counterterrorism strategy requires a well-calculated decision-making process. While targeted killings can be beneficial for the protection of national security, they might as well result in a “Boomerang Effect,” counterproductively increasing terrorists’ support and motivation to perpetrate other attacks. Which key ethical and operational questions should be asked to evaluate whether it is “worthwhile” to carry out a targeted killing operation? With special emphasis on the Israeli case study, this article draws an ethical paradigm to assess the legality and legitimacy of targeted killings. In addition, it presents six different quantitative and qualitative indexes that reflect potential benefits stemming from a targeted killing activity. These include (1) thwarting attacks; (2) damaging the organization’s activity; (3) morale effect; (4) deterrence; (5) changing the organization’s strategic decisions; and (6) the eradication of the organization. Finally, this “effectiveness model” suggests four criteria to examine the costs of the targeted killing activity over the short, medium and long terms.
Online Extremism and Terrorism Research Ethics: Researcher Safety, Informed Consent, and the Need for Tailored Guidelines
By: Maura Conway
Abstract: This article reflects on two core issues of human subjects’ research ethics and how they play out for online extremism and terrorism researchers. Medical research ethics, on which social science research ethics are based, centers the protection of research subjects, but what of the protection of researchers? Greater attention to researcher safety, including online security and privacy and mental and emotional wellbeing, is called for herein. Researching hostile or dangerous communities does not, on the other hand, exempt us from our responsibilities to protect our research subjects, which is generally ensured via informed consent. This is complicated in data-intensive research settings, especially with the former type of communities, however. Also grappled with in this article therefore are the pros and cons of waived consent and deception and the allied issue of prevention of harm to subjects in online extremism and terrorism research. The best path forward it is argued—besides talking through the diversity of ethical issues arising in online extremism and terrorism research and committing our thinking and decision-making around them to paper to a much greater extent than we have done to-date—may be development of ethics guidelines tailored to our sub-field.
The Conflict Sensitivity Principle: Can Best Practice in Conflict Research Fill the Ethics Gap in Terrorism and Counterterrorism Research Practice?
By: Manuel Castro e Almeida, Alistair Harris
Abstract: This article explores how best practice in conflict research can address some of the key gaps and limitations of the terrorism research field with regards to research ethics. It draws from conflict research literature, as well as the authors’ primary research experience in Fragile and Conflict-Affected States (FCAS) and in the policy-oriented field of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE). The analysis focuses on “conflict sensitivity” and the methodological approaches that have been developed and refined under the framework of that principle, including Systems Conflict Analysis. We seek to demonstrate how the integration of research methods related to conflict sensitivity represents an appropriate and fitting research agenda, through which relevant limitations of terrorism research can be addressed. This research agenda emphasizes, among other aspects, the need for solid primary research grounded in a detailed understanding of the local context, a departure from the narrow understanding of the Do No Harm principle in terrorism research, and a greater awareness about the relationship between research ethics and research methods.
Reconsidering Early Detection in Countering Radicalization by Local Frontline Professionals
By: Annemarie van de Weert, Quirine Eijkman
Abstract: In recent years, the fight against terrorism and political violence has focused more on anticipating the threats that they pose. Therefore, early detection of ideas by local professionals has become an important part of the preventive approach in countering radicalization. Frontline workers who operate in the arteries of society are encouraged to identify processes toward violent behavior at an early stage. To date, however, little is known about how these professionals take on this screening task at their own discretion. Research from the Netherlands suggests that subjective assessment appears to exist. In this article, we argue that the absence of a clear norm for preliminary judgments affects prejudice or administrative arbitrariness, which may cause side effects due to unjustified profiling.