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U.S. Military Support and Terrorist Attacks on Americans

- March 1, 2011

A new “article”:http://jpr.sagepub.com/content/48/1/3.abstract (“non-gated version”:http://www2.lse.ac.uk/geographyAndEnvironment/whosWho/profiles/neumayer/pdf/Terror%20on%20Americans.pdf) published in the _Journal of Peace Research_ by “Eric Neumayer”:personal.lse.ac.uk/neumayer/ and “Thomas Pluemper”:http://www.polsci.org/pluemper/publications.html shows that systematically more foreign attacks on Americans come from nations which are more militarily dependent on US military aid, US arms imports and US personnel stationed there. This conclusion is based on an analysis of all terrorist attacks on Americans between 1978 and 2005. The substantive effects are large, especially on military aid. Countries who receive one standard deviation more military aid than the average country have 135 per cent more anti-American terrorism. The authors’ analysis is very careful and their findings cannot easily be attributed to a few outlier cases.

Although it is difficult to pin down causal effects from this type of observational data, the results suggest that American military support to foreign governments creates an incentive for foreign terrorist groups to attack Americans and thus that reducing such support would make Americans safer from terrorist attacks. Whether it is worthwhile reducing military support for this reason is another matter but these effects certainly warrant inclusion in evaluations of the cost and benefits of military aid.

**Update:** See also LSE’s “press release “:http://www2.lse.ac.uk/newsAndMedia/news/archives/2011/02/terror.aspx on the article.

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