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Constructing Terror: How Issues of Construct Validity Undermine the Utility of Terror Databases and Statistical Analyses of Terrorism
Unformatted Document Text:  standard western logic excludes them from indexes of terror events because these crimes were committed by a state. More relevant to this discussion are the actions of the country’s myriad non-state insurgencies. Although most of them concentrate their actions against state forces, there are also prominent incidents of violence against civilians, which terrorism databases have omitted without justification. The best such example comes from the United Wa State Army (UWSA), an armed ethnic organization that has established de facto control over a portion of Northeastern Burma. The organization formed when the Communist Party of Burma, which was comprised mainly of members of the Wa ethnicity, disintegrated in 1989, 61 after more than 30 years of resistance. 62 The new group, which grew to an estimated force of 20,000 men, 63 proved far more willing than its predecessor to work with the government of Burma. The UWSA quickly formed an alliance that granted it a fair amount of autonomy over local affairs in exchange for loyalty to the state. This agreement had two consequences. First, the UWSA’s autonomy allowed the organization to take control of the region’s drug trade, which originally focused on opium, but has since grown to include significant methamphetamine production. 64 Second, the UWSA’s oath of loyalty required it to function as the government’s proxy in the war against other insurgent groups. Just as the AUC battles FARC guerillas in Colombia, the UWSA fights the Shan State Army (SSA), an ethnic insurgency that opposes the state. Like the AUC’s raids 61 Pierre-Arnaund Chouvy, “Drugs and War Destabilize the Thai-Myanmar Border Region,” Jane’s Intelligence Review (April 1, 2002); available online: . 62 According to Martin, the Communist Party of Burma began armed resistance in the late 1960s. Martin Smith, Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity, Revised and Updated Edition (London (UK): Zed Books, 1989), p. 27. 63 Chouvy 64 “International Narcotics Strategy Control Report, Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control,” Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State (March 2007); available online: 19

Authors: Gerdes, Luke.
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standard western logic excludes them from indexes of terror events because these crimes were 
committed by a state.
More   relevant   to   this   discussion   are   the   actions   of   the   country’s   myriad   non-state 
insurgencies.  Although most of them concentrate their actions against state forces, there are also 
prominent   incidents   of   violence   against   civilians,   which   terrorism   databases   have   omitted 
without justification.  The best such example comes from the United Wa State Army (UWSA), 
an armed ethnic organization that has established de facto control over a portion of Northeastern 
The organization formed when the Communist Party of Burma, which was comprised 
mainly of members of the Wa ethnicity, disintegrated in 1989,
  after more than 30 years of 
  The new group, which grew to an estimated force of 20,000 men,
 proved far more 
willing than its predecessor to work with the government of Burma.  The UWSA quickly formed 
an alliance that granted it a fair amount of autonomy over local affairs in exchange for loyalty to 
the state.  
This   agreement   had   two   consequences.     First,   the   UWSA’s   autonomy   allowed   the 
organization to take control of the region’s drug trade, which originally focused on opium, but 
has since grown to include significant methamphetamine production.
   Second, the UWSA’s 
oath   of   loyalty   required   it   to   function   as   the   government’s   proxy   in   the   war   against   other 
insurgent groups.  Just as the AUC battles FARC guerillas in Colombia, the UWSA fights the 
Shan State Army (SSA), an ethnic insurgency that opposes the state.   Like the AUC’s raids 
 Pierre-Arnaund Chouvy, “Drugs and War Destabilize the Thai-Myanmar Border Region,” Jane’s Intelligence 
Review (April 1, 2002); available online: 
 According to Martin, the Communist Party of Burma began armed resistance in the late 1960s.  Martin Smith, 
Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity, Revised and Updated Edition (London (UK): Zed Books, 1989), p. 
 “International Narcotics Strategy Control Report, Volume I: Drug and Chemical Control,” Bureau for 
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, U.S. Department of State (March 2007); available online: 

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