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Draining the Swamp: Democracy Promotion, State Failure, and Terrorism in 19 Middle Eastern Countries

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 30 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2007 Pages: 521-539
James A. Piazza
Date Published
June 2007
19 pages
This study examined whether or not the promotion of democracy in the Middle East would reduce terrorism, as measured by terrorist attacks sustained by Middle-Eastern countries and attacks perpetrated by terrorist groups based in Middle-Eastern countries.
The study found that Middle-Eastern states with more democratic processes and civil liberties protections were more prone to terrorist activity than Middle-Eastern countries with dictatorships. A more significant prediction of terrorist activity in Middle-Eastern countries than the absence of democracy was the level of state failure or political instability created by internal political strife, ethnic conflict, or "stateless areas." The latter are geographic or political spaces within states that resent central government authority. These findings suggest that a foreign policy toward the Middle East based in the promotion of democracy or the widening of civil liberties will not be a significant deterrent to or preventive measure for terrorism. Rather, it may exacerbate the problem of terrorism, both within Middle-Eastern states and other countries targeted by terrorist groups based in Middle-Eastern states. The study conducted a cross-national, pooled, time-series statistical regression analysis of the incidence of terrorism in 19 Middle-Eastern states from 1972 to 2003. 4 notes and 37 references