Wednesday, March 21, 2007

just a little note...

sorry, but i killed this blog. disappointing, i know. but it served it's purpose--as a place for my research for my poli sci paper.

the conclusion i came to: political violence--specifically terrorism--is caused by an oppressive, authoritarian government that doesn't give its public any other way to voice its opinions. they are essentially forced into violence.

i might blog about this on another, more general blog. we'll see.

Friday, March 16, 2007

bbc citation

"India-Pakistan: Troubled Relations." BBC NEWS. 14 Mar. 2007. 16 Mar. 2007

citations for tkb

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. “Communist Party of India-Maoist.” Website, accessed 3/14/2007. Available from

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. “Dukhtaran-e-Millat.” Website, accessed 3/14/2007. Available from

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. “Hizbul Mujahideen.” Website, accessed 3/14/2007. Available from

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. “People's United Liberation Front .” Website, accessed 3/14/2007. Available from

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base. “United Liberation Front of Assam .” Website, accessed 3/14/2007. Available from

Thursday, March 15, 2007

the outline

thesis: Political violence in the form of terrorism is most prevalent in countries with more authoritarian regimes. This is because, without civil liberties like freedom of speech and the right to protest, citizens have no other way to get recognition for their cause except to become violent. However, India experiences a high amount of terrorist incidents despite the fact that Indians enjoy a vast amount of civil liberties. This terrorism can be largely attributed to the separatist groups in certain areas of India that are fighting violently for control of these regions.

**be sure to define "political openness" and "amount of freedom" and "freedom score" and "repressive government" and "democratic government"

1. intro + thesis
--explain outline of the paper as well
--explain those terms above, as well as any other weird terms i use in the paper.
2. scatter plot
--chose terrorist incidents because i thought that was the easiest way to show a certain aspect of political violence and it gives a very real way of showing the discontent of the people in the country.
--"freedom score" is an average between the political rights and civil liberties a country has according to freedom house. i feel this is a good measure of the degree of political openness a country has because, generally, if citizens get more political rights and civil liberties, the country is more democratic.
--describe results (correlation between high freedom scores and number of terrorist incidents)
3. why terrorist incidents are more likely to occur in countries that are less open politically
a. a repressive government doesn't listen to groups; there are no "openings" for groups to mobilize and act
--"what makes a social movement" 3rd quote, 1st quote
-- "cross-nat'l variation" 1st quote
--"strategic logic" 3rd quote
b. an authoritarian government never gives the people a time to change things
--with no elections, people can't kick out leaders they don't like
--doing comp politics, 1st (only) quote
--"cross nat'l variation" 2nd quote
c. a repressive government doesn't compromise with the people (this might be folded into category b)
--"strategic logic" 2nd quote
4. wtf is up with india?
5. conclusion
--as shown, there is a positive relationship between increasing freedom scores and terrorist incidents. i believe this is because more repressive governments award their citizens less freedom, and with less freedom comes more animosity. groups have resorted to terrorism because the government has not allowed them any legal, peaceful ways of protesting, and because there is no free and fair election process, these groups never get a chance to get rid of leaders they dont like or vote to change policy. India proves to be an exception to the rule, because it is democratic but also experiences a high number of terrorist incidents. These, however, aren't due to the government but instead are because there are a few separatist terrorist groups fighting for territory.

"Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism"

Pape, Robert A. "The Strategic Logic Of Suicide Terrorism." American
Political Science Review
97.3(Aug. 2003): 343-361.

(pg. 344) "For states, air power and economic sanctions are often
the preferred coercive tools.For terrorist groups, suicide attacks
are becoming the coercive instrument of choice."
in my own words: i'm still trying to figure out right now if i can
work it that a coercive government is governing by example. so if
the government is using coercive action, terrorist groups see that
and use their own coercion. a repressive government is sometimes
coercive, so in a country with a government as such, i would expect
to see to see more violent terrorist groups.

(pg. 344) "Groups using suicide terrorism consistently announce
specific political goals and stop suicide attacks when those goals
have been fully or partially achieved."
in my own words: Although suicide terrorist groups are extreme,
they are not that different from "regular" terrorist groups, or
those that do not use suicide attacks. Terrorist groups announce
their decidedly political goals. If the goals are met, obviously, they
will have nothing left to fight for and they will stop fighting.
Likewise, if a government doesn't listen to their wants and needs (as
is typical of a repressive/authoritarian regime), they will continue
to attack and increase the intensity of attacks until the government
gives them some sort of solution. So, in a democratic nation, where
the government is responsive to what the people have to say, terrorist
groups would not be forced to take such dramatic actions and become
violent because their needs will be met, or at least the group will be
heard and compromised with. In a government that is less politically open,
solutions are unlikely to be met, so terrorist groups will keep attacking.
Political violence will rise.

(pg. 345) "Demonstrative terrorism is directed mainly at gaining publicity."
in my own words: terrorists commit violent acts to get attention.
they have learned that violence will always get media attention, and
with media attention comes followers (pape) and with more followers comes
more power. a repressive government doesn't allow the freedom of speech, and
in nations that are more closed politically, the media aren't allowed to
cover incidents from an unbiased point of view. also, groups may not be
able to pass out fliers or pamphlets in at attempt to gain followers. so,
because these groups have no way to get their word out there legally and
peacefully they must resort to violence that is large and (no pun intended)
explosive, so big that it will be hard to miss. in a more politically open
nation, where all viewpoints are at least allowed, these groups would be
able to pass out brochures to people, hold rallies, write in to newspapers,
etc., without having to resort to dramatic, violent means.

Cross-National Variation in Political Violence

Muller, Edward N., and Erich Weede. "Cross-National Variation in Political Violence: A Rational
     Action Approach." Journal Of Conflict Resolution 34 (Dec. 1990): 1-29. California Digital
     Library. 15 Mar. 2007 . 

"act of coercion, on one hand, reduce legal opportunities for contesting governmental policies and thereby raise the demand for illegal and violence collective action." (pg. 13)
in my own words: when a government is forceful and imposes laws that punish people for protest, they do not give them legal opportunities to express their dissenting opinions. because they don't have a legal outlet to protest peacefully, those against the regime will resort to violent (and clearly illegal) action. take away one option, and those desperate enough will find another. terrorists are typically extremely devoted to their cause and will do anything to get their message across. if the government takes away legal options to protest, the terrorists will be forced to resort to violence.

(pg. 24) "under a highly repressive regime it is likely that opportunities for collective political action of any kind will be low, that the probability of success will be negligible, and that costs will be high. rational actors who wish to contest the policies of a government are likely to think better of it. under a nonrepressive regime, it is likely that opportunities for collective political action of any kind will be high, that the probability of success of peaceful collective action will typically be higher than that of violence, and that hte costs of peaceful action will be much lower than those of violence. rational actors therefore are likely to prefer peaceful collective action to violence."
in my own words: an authoritarian, repressive government doesn't give the citizens much chance to give input, and they don't give a lot of room for compromise. in so many words, they are unbreakable. so, there is really a very little chance that collective political action will be successful. therefore, benefits are low. costs are high because repressive governments may punish protesters.
more democratic governments are more open to public opinion and take into consideration what their constituents want. basically, where protesters see "holes" in the government, or places where they can influence governmental decision, they will understand that their protest may have an affect. therefore, the benefits of peaceful collective action are high. the costs are low, because in a politically open nation, they have the right to protest.

(pg. 26) "since rational actors are more likely to rebel after they have mobilized the necessary resources, potential separatism therefore should increase violence."
in my own words: it's difficult to mobilize people. separatism gives people a big reason to ban together and it is quite a strong reason (much more so than, say, a desire for clean air for the future). once people group together under separatist groups, there is a collective rationality. where it might not have been rational to protest (violently or otherwise) individually, people may see a benefit in acting as a member of a group, for the good of the group. these separatist groups are usually radical and they may stop at nothing to get what they want. massive numbers combined with radicalism leads to more violence.

(pg. 22) "...semirepressive regimes, intermediate levels of negative sanctions, and potential separatism increase the incidence of violence."
in my own words: regimes that are slightly repressive and the potential for separatism in a nation increase violence for reasons stated above.

YESSS. this is exactly what i've been looking for.

What makes a social movement?

Lim, pg. 246

"rise, development and success (or failure) of social movements are conditioned--constrained and enabled--by forces or structures largely beyond the control of even the most capable leaders and individual activists."
in my own words: social movements are either failures or successes because of structures they cannot control--or at least partly so. how successful a social movement is is not entirely based on how strongly the people protesting believe in it, or how many people protest, or even how good the leaders are. the structure (aka government) has a lot to do with it. if they won't even listen to protesters, obviously, the movement will not be successful. so, an authoritarian regime that completely ignores protesters will not be as affected by collective action.

sidney tarrow (as quoted in lim) says that political opportunity structure create opportunities for social change.
in my own words: that's what i just said above.

lim's words: "changes in the underlying political process (or structure) create 'openings' that enable the mobilization of resource-poor actors into new movements."
in my own words: people who are poor don't have a lot of ways to protest the government, at least not the same way the rich and powerful do. the rich can buy off the government. the powerful can exchange favors with the government. the poor, however, only have each other. if there are openings in the government, where the government is willing to listen to the people (like in a democracy), then they have an opportunity to act collectively for change. if the government becomes less democratic, however, then these openings close. where groups could peacefully protest before, they are no longer able to. so, their options become either to give up or resort to violent means.

"timing and fate of movements are largely dependent upon the opportunities afforded to activists by changes in the broader political system or structure"
in my own words: whether a movement is successful or not depends a lot on the timing of it. if the government is especially vulnerable (perhaps there is disagreement within, or they are turning to outside sources for solutions to problems) then a peaceful social movement has a chance. however, if the government refuses to listen, then the people have to resort to violence to get their attention.