Study by Chenoweth and Dugan: Punishment not effective response to terrorism

DENVER, July 31 (UPI) — The consensus politically is that terrorism must be fought, but U.S. researchers said conciliatory tactics are more effective than punishment.

Study co-authors Erica Chenoweth of the University of Denver and Laura Dugan of the University of Maryland said the study used data from the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Response to Terrorism’s Global Terrorism Database and from the Government Actions in a Terrorist Environment-Israel dataset.

The Government Actions in a Terrorist Environment-Israel dataset, which the study authors developed, identifies counter-terrorism strategies that Israel used against Palestinian targets and places them on a 7-point scale from violent acts resulting in death to conciliatory acts involving peaceful gestures.

Examples of Israel’s conciliatory tactics that rewarded refrain from terrorist acts included: Providing social services to potential terrorist constituencies, encouraging peace talks, withdrawing troops, releasing prisoners, and promoting cultural freedoms. Israel’s repressive and punishment centered attempts to reduce terrorism included: Passage of anti-terrorism laws, extension of prison sentences, assassination, deportation, and military retaliation, the researchers said.

In an average month between 1987 and 2004, Israel took approximately 18 repressive or punishment based actions against Palestinian targets and less than eight conciliatory actions.

The study found, when policymakers focused on improving the living conditions for Palestinian constituents, those same constituents were encouraged not to participate in terrorist organizations and, consequently, terrorism rates fell.

“If the constituency of a terrorist organization no longer supports that organization, then the organization can’t thrive,” Dugan said in a statement.
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