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Friday, 6 July 2007

Suicide bombing doesn't work

Article from Stumbling and Mumbling

Forget the morality, suicide bombing just doesn't work. That's the message of this paper by David Jaeger and Daniele Paserman on the Palestine-Israeli conflict:

We find that a successful suicide attack in week t-1 on average leads to approximately six more Palestinian fatalities in week t: we can reject the null hypothesis that this coefficient is equal to zero at the 5% level.

What's more, there's no tit-for-tat here. It's not the case that Israel's attacks on terrorist leaders trigger revenge attacks - quite the opposite:

There is a statistically significant negative effect of successful target killings on Israeli fatalities [in the following week], indicating that killing militants in one of the violent Palestinian factions has an incapacitation or deterrent effect.

However, although Israeli attacks reduce actual Palestinian violence, they increase intended violence - unsuccessful suicide attacks and the like - if the attacks are mild. The authors estimate that intended Palestinian violence rises if there are up to 3.3 targeted Israeli killings the previous month, but falls thereafter.
This suggests that a tough Israeli response works, but a moderate one doesn't.
The bigger lesson is that suicide bombing is just a bad military strategy.
But the problem is that suicide bombers might, to use Nozick's distinction, be pursuing symbolic utility rather than causal utility.

Bagelblogger: I think its fairly apparent that their are several flaws in the mathematical representation of Suicide bombings. None the least being that it de humanizes the suffering experienced by its victims. The path a survivor takes after surviving a suicide bombing is often an horrendous trip into further pain and social dislocation. Some survivors of suicide bombings never really regain their independence.

But it does bring into sharp focus not only the futility of suicide bombings but in my view the more important aspect of the difference between a moderate response and an aggressive active response.

Suicide bombings may not make good mathematics, but they wreck havoc on many aspects of civilians every day life, that Israel's targeted killings seem to in effect work is further testament to the need for an aggressive rather than a passive position.

We shouldn't allow the leaders of terrorist organizations to find any kind of positive result in suicide bombings, they, the leadership must be held totally accountable.

Stumbling and Mumbling: Suicide bombing doesn't work
Times Online: The statistics and strategy behind suicide bombings


Sara with NO H said...


Rambler said...

Good always prevails over evil in the end.