Galton's Problem and Contagion in International Terrorism along Civilizational Lines
Conflict Management and Peace Science, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 308-325, 2010
30 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2009 Last revised: 7 Nov 2010
Date Written: August 20, 2009
According to Huntington, international terrorism is spatially dependent because of what he refers to as civilizational rallying effects, forming one aspect of his infamous clash of civilizations paradigm. If radical groups from one country attack targets from a country of another civilization, then groups from other countries of the same civilization as the initial terrorist groups will become more likely to also attack this target. In other words, international terrorism should spread along civilizational lines. Testing such a hypothesis suffers from a major difficulty known as Galton’s problem: spatial dependence is difficult to distinguish from spatial clustering and common shocks and trends. We employ techniques for the spatial analysis of dyadic data to disentangle spatial dependence from spatial clustering and common shocks and trends. We find no general, global support for the rallying hypothesis. Neither do we find evidence for an increase in terror contagion along civilizational lines after the end of the Cold War. However, we cannot reject the hypothesis of spatial dependence in the post-Cold War period for the specific civilizational combinations formed between Islamic and non-Islamic countries and between Islamic countries and the West. Our study thus clearly rejects Huntington’s prediction of a general civilizational rallying effect of terrorism, but it lends some, albeit weak, support to the hypothesis as applied to specific inter-civilizational combinations.
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