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Explaining Support for Combatants during Wartime: A Survey Experiment in Afghanistan

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2013

JASON LYALL
Affiliation:
Yale University
GRAEME BLAIR
Affiliation:
Princeton University
KOSUKE IMAI
Affiliation:
Princeton University

Abstract

How are civilian attitudes toward combatants affected by wartime victimization? Are these effects conditional on which combatant inflicted the harm? We investigate the determinants of wartime civilian attitudes towards combatants using a survey experiment across 204 villages in five Pashtun-dominated provinces of Afghanistan—the heart of the Taliban insurgency. We use endorsement experiments to indirectly elicit truthful answers to sensitive questions about support for different combatants. We demonstrate that civilian attitudes are asymmetric in nature. Harm inflicted by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is met with reduced support for ISAF and increased support for the Taliban, but Taliban-inflicted harm does not translate into greater ISAF support. We combine a multistage sampling design with hierarchical modeling to estimate ISAF and Taliban support at the individual, village, and district levels, permitting a more fine-grained analysis of wartime attitudes than previously possible.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2013 

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