Assessing the influence of political instability on countries' likelihood of suffering terrorist attacks
The 9/11 attacks forced U.S. policy makers to recognize the growing threat posed by terrorism and redefine their policy priorities. Since 1998, the global number of reported terrorist incidents increased from a low of 1,153 in 2000 to a high of 5,008 in 2005. The number of identified active terrorist groups also climbed from a low of 82 in 2000 to a high of 152 in 2005. Even more alarming, the ratio of attacks to active groups increased from a low of 12.65 attacks per group in 1999, to a high of 32.95 attacks per group in 2005. Given the increasing rates of terrorist group development and attacks, policy makers must implement a strategy to address short-term security needs and longer-term threats. President Bush introduced the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism in 2003 (updated in 2006) detailing two strategic objectives: 1. Eliminating active terrorists, denying them resources including WMDs, safehavens, funding, and access to targets, and creating an inhospitable global environment for violent extremism (commonly referred to as the War of Ideas). 2. Eliminating the conditions causing individuals to radicalize. Eliminating the conditions causing radicalization is difficult because there is little consensus on what causes radicalization. Previous research examines factors such as poverty, levels of education, unemployment rates, religion, and forms of government as drivers of radicalization. This thesis assesses the effects of political instability on a country's probability of being attacked and the aggregate number of terrorist attacks countries experience. Using a combination of two-stage least-squares regression, Linear Probability Modeling, and Tobit analysis, I control for factors including poverty, education, geography, form of government, religion, and unemployment rates. I find political instability is insignificant in explaining terrorist attack data.
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