Games Rivals Play: Terrorism in International Rivalries
35 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2010
Date Written: June 26, 2010
The empirical terrorism literature has largely overlooked interstate relations when evaluating predictors of international terrorist attacks, opting to focus on state, group, or individual-level factors to explain patterns of terrorism using analytical methods that are limited to either the origin or target of the attack. In this piece we argue that this is both incongruous with the larger conflict literature and limiting in terms of theoretical impact. Terrorism is more accurately considered a component of conflictual relations between two states generally hostile towards each other, which necessitates an examination of both states. We demonstrate, by conducting a series of negative binomial regression estimates using politically-relevant directed dyads, that interstate rivalries are highly robust, positive predictors of international terrorism. We use two different rivalry measures – Klein, Goertz and Diehl (2006) and Rasler and Thompson (2006) – and find that interstate rivalries, regardless of operationalization, explain a greater degree of variation in patterns of terrorism than do established significant predictors such as regime type, regime capacity to project force, or population.
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