The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Negotiating with Terrorists

November 8, 2012

When governments offer concessions to dissident groups in the midst of a terror campaign, they often see an increase in violence take place afterwards.

For example, between 1968 and 1977, attacks conducted by the ETA claimed the lives of 73 people.  Partial autonomy was granted to the Basque region in 1978, yet despite the fact that this represented a significant shift towards the desired outcome of the ETA, violence increased, over the next three years, the ETA would kill 235 people, and fatality levels remained elevated for decades.

Why then do governments offer concessions?

One answer is that they don’t know any better.  Another is that they are beholden to a misguided dovish ideology.  Ethan Bueno de Mesquita offers a rather different explanation.  I do my best to break it down here.

website | + posts

I am an assistant professor of political science at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. I mostly write here about "rational choice" and IR theory. I also maintain my own blog,