Study Links Terror, Anti-War Rhetoric


10-Year Member
Jun 9, 2006
Interesting presentation of a study on the link between attacks on Americans, both civilian and military, in Iraq and anti-war rhetoric in America.

From the Harvard Crimson:

Public dissent in the United States has caused increased attacks against civilians and American soldiers in Iraq, according to a recent study by two Harvard economists.

Following months of data collection, Jonathan Monten of the Belfer Center at the Kennedy School of Government and Radha K. Iyengar of the Harvard University Center for Government and International Studies determined that there was a 5-10 percent increase in insurgent attacks following a spike in anti-war rhetoric.

The most important result of the study, according to the authors, is that the insurgent groups are rational actors responding to a perceived decrease in American resolve “rather than groups driven by ideological concerns with little sensitivity to costs.”

Rather than profoundly modifying the behavior of the media, Monten and Iyengar said that the study should be incorporated into American counterinsurgency strategy.
The thought of any scholar trying to find a link between criticizing a war and terrorism scares me a little bit.
Why? That's the beauty is that we as Americans can analyze anything and look for answers. It's hardly going to stop free speech, but it could help soldiers prepare better for more violent times. I hope I didn't misunderstand you here.
I thought of Cindy Shaheen and what a sad, terrible irony if her protests led to enabling the insurgents.

If would be a good thing if protesters could work on utilizing free speech opportunities w/o emboldening those who want to kill American soldiers and civilians.
The reason I said that before was because after a cursory reading of the text I thought the author was saying that by voicing your opinion on the war you are supporting terrorists (by "emboldening" them).

Before some big flamewar erupts, I do support the Iraq war (especially the people that are actually fighting in it), I just get kind of nervous when people try and shut down their opponents by trying to say they support terrorists because it creates the same culture of fear that we should be working to prevent. I saw it in the republican debates during the primaries earlier this year and in 2007 a lot as well, particularly from a former New York City mayor who will remain unnamed. Those who followed that business may know what I'm talking about.

Just my take, take it with a grain of salt.
O no, wasn't even close to a flame war. I just wanted to make sure I understood what part disturbed you. Many points of view could be taken, I was curious as to which one was yours. ;)
The thought of any scholar trying to find a link between criticizing a war and terrorism scares me a little bit.

An enemy has and always will gain strength by trying to influence the anti-war movement at home. This is nothing new as this quote reminds us:

"We know we can't beat you on the battlefield, but we can beat you on the streets of New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco."
-- North Vietnamese camp commander, Son Tay POW camp to Commander Paul Galanti, U.S. Navy, American POW.

Although I don't doubt that insurgents are emboldened by anti-war sentiment, I have to question how they were able to quantify anti-war rhetoric and the legitimacy of their statistics.
I'm just glad it's getting analysis; that linkage deserves close study.

Another fascinating quote (same article):

Iyengar said yesterday that this policy change is deeply rooted in a belief formed in Vietnam that “groups motivated by religious goals are fanatical and not taking into consideration cost and incentive.”

But Monten said the most effective way to fight the insurgents “may be to manipulate them using deterrents.”

“[The military] needs to try and manipulate costs and incentives more, rather than seeking out specific enemies,” Iyengar said.

In their next study, Monten and Iyengar said they expect to analyze these specific deterrents and incentives to use against insurgents.

Effective "costs and incentives" - those on the ground there probably already have some very good ideas.