The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Recommended Reading

August 31, 2006

Two recommendations for readers of the Duck:

First, a noteworthy article for those interested in analytical studies of strategic interaction as applied to terrorism appears in the recent issue of International Security. Andrew Kydd (a new addition to my department at Penn via Harvard) and Barbara Walter discuss terrorism as costly signaling and further elaborate on the numerous strategic logics of costly signaling at work in terrorist actions:

(1) attrition,(2) intimidation,(3) provocation,(4) spoiling, and (5) outbidding. In an attrition strategy, terrorists seek to persuade the enemy that the terrorists are strong enough to impose considerable costs if the enemy continues a particular policy. Terrorists using intimidation try to convince the population that the terrorists are strong enough to punish disobedience and that the government is too weak to stop them, so that people behave as the terrorists wish. A provocation strategy is an attempt to induce the enemy to respond to terrorism with indiscriminate violence, which radicalizes the population and moves them to support the terrorists. Spoilers attack in an effort to persuade the enemy that moderates on the terrorists ’side are weak and untrustworthy, thus undermining attempts to reach a peace settlement. Groups engaged in outbidding use violence to convince the public that the terrorists have greater resolve to fight the enemy than rival groups, and therefore are worthy of support.

The article is available as a free PDF download from the International Security website—I recommend reading the entire piece.

Second, Dr. Jeffrey Record of the U.S. Air Force Air War College examines the root of the reputation frame–good old Munich–in Appeasement Reconsidered: Investigating the Mythology of the 1930s. Here is the abstract:

U.S. use of force since 1945 has been significantly influenced by the perceived consequences of appeasing Hitler in the 1930s, and from the mid-1970s to 2001 by the chilling effect of the Vietnam War. As the United States approached its second war with Iraq, proponents cited the Munich analogy to justify the war, whereas opponents argued that the United States was risking another Vietnam. Though reasoning by historical analogies is inherently dangerous, an examination of the threat parallels between Hitler and Saddam Hussein, and between the Vietnam War and the situation the United States has confronted in post-Baathist Iraq, reveals that the Munich analogy was misused as an argument for war, whereas the American dilemma in Iraq bears some important analogies to the Vietnam conflict, especially with respect to the challenges state-building and sustaining domestic public support for an unpopular protracted war.

I’m licking my chops. Go check it out.

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Petti is Associate Director of Insights and Analytics at Alexion . Previously, he served as Lead Data Scientist in the Decision Sciences group at Maritz Motivation and a Global Data Strategist and Subject Matter Expert for Gallup.