Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Do Terrorists Win? Rebels' Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes

Abstract
Abstract

How effective is terrorism? This question has generated lively scholarly debate and is of obvious importance to policy-makers. However, most existing studies of terrorism are not well equipped to answer this question because they lack an appropriate comparison. This article compares the outcomes of civil wars to assess whether rebel groups that use terrorism fare better than those who eschew this tactic. I evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of terrorism relative to other tactics used in civil war. Because terrorism is not a tactic employed at random, I first briefly explore empirically which groups use terrorism. Controlling for factors that may affect both the use of terrorism and war outcomes, I find that although civil wars involving terrorism last longer than other wars, terrorist rebel groups are generally less likely to achieve their larger political objectives than are nonterrorist groups. Terrorism may be less ineffective against democracies, but even in this context, terrorists do not win.

Copyright
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Alberto Abadie . 2006. Poverty, Political Freedom, and the Roots of Terrorism. American Economic Review 96 (2):5056.

Max Abrahms . 2006. Why Terrorism Does Not Work. International Security 31 (2):4278.

Max Abrahms . 2012. The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited. Comparative Political Studies 45 (3):366–93.

Benjamin Acosta . 2014. Live to Win Another Day: Why Many Militant Organizations Survive yet Few Succeed. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 37 (2):135–61.

Ivan Arreguín-Toft . 2001. How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict. International Security 26 (1):93128.

Victor Asal , and R. Karl Rethemeyer . 2008a. The Nature of the Beast: Organizational Structures and the Lethality of Terrorist Attacks. Journal of Politics 70 (2):437–49.

Victor Asal , and R. Karl Rethemeyer . 2008b. Dilettantes, Ideologues, and the Weak: Terrorists Who Don't Kill. Conflict Management and Peace Science 25 (3):244–63.

Bear F Braumoeller . 2004. Hypothesis Testing and Multiplicative Interaction Terms. International Organization 58 (4):807–20.

Ethan Bueno de Mesquita , and Eric S. Dickson . 2007. The Propaganda of the Deed: Terrorism, Counterterrorism, and Mobilization. American Journal of Political Science 51 (2):364–81.

Brian Burgoon . 2006. On Welfare and Terror: Social Welfare Policies and Political-Economic Roots of Terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution 50 (2):176203.

Erica Chenoweth . 2013. Terrorism and Democracy. Annual Review of Political Science 16:355–78.

Martha Crenshaw . 1981. The Causes of Terrorism. Comparative Politics 13 (4):379–99.

Audrey K. Cronin 2003. Behind the Curve: Globalization and International Terrorism. International Security 27 (3):3058.

Audrey K. Cronin 2006. How al-Qaida Ends: The Decline and Demise of Terrorist Groups. International Security 31 (1):748.

David E. Cunningham , Kristian Skrede Gleditsch , and Idean Salehyan . 2009a. It Takes Two: A Dyadic Analysis of Civil War Duration and Outcome. Journal of Conflict Resolution 53 (4):570–97. Data available at <http://privatewww.essex.ac.uk/~ksg/eacd.html> Version 2.4. Accessed 13 January 2010.

Karl DeRouen , and David Sobek . 2004. The Dynamics of Civil War Duration and Outcome. Journal of Peace Research 41 (3):303–20.

Walter Enders , Todd Sandler , and Khusrav Gaibulloev . 2011. Domestic Versus Transnational Terrorism: Data, Decomposition, and Dynamics. Journal of Peace Research 48 (3):319–37.

Michael G. Findley , and Joseph K. Young . 2012b. More Combatant Groups, More Terror? Empirical Tests of an Outbidding Logic. Terrorism and Political Violence 24 (5):706–21.

Jeff Goodwin . 2006. A Theory of Categorical Terrorism. Social Forces 84 (4):2027–46.

Stathis N. Kalyvas 2006. The Logic of Violence in Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Peter Krause . 2013. The Political Effectiveness of Non-State Violence: A Two-Level Framework to Transform a Deceptive Debate. Security Studies 22 (2):259–94.

Andrew H. Kydd , and Barbara F. Walter . 2006. The Strategies of Terrorism. International Security 31 (1):4980.

David D. Laitin , and Jacob N. Shapiro . 2008. The Political, Economic, and Organizational Sources of Terrorism. In Terrorism, Economic Development, and Political Openness, edited by Philip Keefer and Norman Loayza , 209–32. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Adria S. Lawrence 2010. Triggering Nationalist Violence: Competition and Conflict in Uprisings Against Colonial Rule. International Security 35 (2):88122.

Ariel Merari . 1993. Terrorism as a Strategy of Insurgency. Terrorism and Political Violence 5 (4):213–51.

Stephen Nemeth . 2014. The Effect of Competition on Terrorist Group Operations. Journal of Conflict Resolution 58 (2):336–62.

Robert A. Pape , and James K. Feldman . 2010. Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nicholas Sambanis . 2008. Terrorism and Civil War. In Terrorism, Economic Development, and Political Openness, edited by Philip Keefer and Norman Loayza , 174208. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Nil S. Satana , Molly Inman , and Jóhanna K. Birnir . 2013. Religion, Government Coalitions, and Terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 25 (1):2952.

Andrew Silke . 1996. Terrorism and the Blind Man's Elephant. Terrorism and Political Violence 8 (3):1228.

Jessica A. Stanton 2013. Terrorism in the Context of Civil War. Journal of Politics 75 (4):1009–22.

Maria J. Stephan , and Erica Chenoweth . 2008. Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict. International Security 33 (1):744.

Jakana Thomas . 2014. Rewarding Bad Behavior: How Governments Respond to Terrorism in Civil War. American Journal of Political Science 58 (4):804–18.

Reed M. Wood , and Jacob D. Kathman . 2014. Too Much of a Bad Thing? Civilian Victimization and Bargaining in Civil War. British Journal of Political Science 44 (3):122.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
UNKNOWN
Supplementary Materials

Fortna supplementary material
Fortna supplementary material 3

 Unknown (445 KB)
445 KB
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Fortna supplementary material
Fortna supplementary material 2

 PDF (99 KB)
99 KB
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Fortna supplementary material
Fortna supplementary material 1

 PDF (463 KB)
463 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 269
Total number of PDF views: 1120 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 4411 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.