The State of Nature and the Nature of State: How the 1930s Determined the Fate of Basque Terrorism
31 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 5, 2019
Why do states often choose costlier counterterrorism strategies over cheaper and simpler ones? The following paper addresses said topic in the context of Spain’s attrition tactic against the Basque terrorist group ETA. Drawing upon the logic of social contract theorists, I hypothesize that the Iberian state’s decision to reject negotiation strategies can be explained by its experience in the state of nature from 1931-1939, which shapes modern policy choices via the perceived ideal role of government. Using primary and secondary sources combined with a method of process-tracing and counterfactuals, I find substantial support for the proposed State of Nature theory, with all but one of its nine predictions proving to be accurate. These findings will have important scholarly implications for theories of strategic culture and rational choice in the context of security studies, as well as undeniable policy consequences for US decision-makers and strategists who rely on key allies like Spain in the American war on terror.
Keywords: counterterrorism; social contract theory; strategic culture; rational choice; security studies; ETA; domestic terrorism; Spain; political theory
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