April 5, 2008
Do Insurgent Attacks Increase After Learning About US Press Coverage of Irag War Critiques?
Is There an "Emboldenment" Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq
by Radha Iyengar & Jonathan Monten
NBER Working Paper No. 13839
Abstract: Are insurgents affected by information on US casualty sensitivity? Using data on attacks and variation in access to international news across Iraqi provinces, we identify an "emboldenment" effect by comparing the rate of insurgent attacks in areas with higher and lower access to information about U.S news after public statements critical of the war. We find in periods after a spike in war-critical statements, insurgent attacks increases by 5-10 percent. The results suggest that insurgent groups respond rationally to expected probability of US withdrawal. As such counterinsurgency should consider deterrence and incapacitation rather than simply search and destroy missions.
See also Travis Sharp's review, Study: After U.S. antiwar outpouring, insurgent attacks go up 7-10%. [JH]
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