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International Cooperation, Not Unilateral Policies, may be the Best Counterterrorist Strategy
Unformatted Document Text:  attack, they will seek to cause as much damage as they possibly can. We could thus expect such attacks to be carefully planned over a long period of time. They will not be easily repeated. Third, the attack trajectories of about half of the terrorist groups included in the analysis exhibit wave-like boom and bust cycles. This supports earlier research (e.g., Rapoport, 2001; Sedgwick, 2007) that suggests that the decision to resort to terrorism is to some extent contagious. Once an upward trajectory begins, it tends to follow an accelerating path for several years. The cycle hypothesis also underscores the need to improve our understanding of the processes that end a cycle of terrorist group attacks (cf., Cronin, 2008; Jones and Libicki, 2008; LaFree and Miller, 2009). But it is also equally important to emphasize that nearly one-half of the groups we examined were responsible for infrequent or sporadic attacks and therefore did not fit this pattern. Finally, the fact that total attacks by this set of designated anti-U.S. organizations is so lopsidedly against non-U.S. targets is consistent with the proposition that the decision of anti-U.S. terrorist groups to attack the U.S. is often strategic. As Crenshaw (2001) suggests, the United States may become a preferred target if domestic challengers cannot succeed at home unless the scope of the conflict is expanded beyond local boundaries. Crenshaw points out that the U.S. is a useful target for pragmatic as well as ideological reasons: attacks on Americans are highly visible and both acts of terrorism and the American response may well arouse popular emotions in an audience of importance to the terrorist organization. Beyond these considerations, attacks on U.S. targets can be useful for directly influencing American policies—such as compelling the U.S. to withdraw from a military commitment that supports a local government. The bombing of 10

Authors: LaFree, Gary. and Yang, Sue Ming.
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attack, they will seek to cause as much damage as they possibly can.  We could thus 
expect such attacks to be carefully planned over a long period of time.  They will not be 
easily repeated.
Third, the attack trajectories of about half of the terrorist groups included in the 
analysis exhibit wave-like boom and bust cycles.  This supports earlier research (e.g., 
Rapoport, 2001; Sedgwick, 2007) that suggests that the decision to resort to terrorism is 
to some extent contagious.  Once an upward trajectory begins, it tends to follow an 
accelerating path for several years.  The cycle hypothesis also underscores the need to 
improve our understanding of the processes that end a cycle of terrorist group attacks (cf., 
Cronin, 2008; Jones and Libicki, 2008; LaFree and Miller, 2009).   But it is also equally 
important to emphasize that nearly one-half of the groups we examined were responsible 
for infrequent or sporadic attacks and therefore did not fit this pattern.  
Finally, the fact that total attacks by this set of designated anti-U.S. organizations is 
so lopsidedly against non-U.S. targets is consistent with the proposition that the decision 
of anti-U.S. terrorist groups to attack the U.S. is often strategic.  As Crenshaw (2001) 
suggests, the United States may become a preferred target if domestic challengers cannot 
succeed at home unless the scope of the conflict is expanded beyond local boundaries. 
Crenshaw points out that the U.S. is a useful target for pragmatic as well as ideological 
reasons:  attacks on Americans are highly visible and both acts of terrorism and the 
American response may well arouse popular emotions in an audience of importance to 
the terrorist organization.  Beyond these considerations, attacks on U.S. targets can be 
useful for directly influencing American policies—such as compelling the U.S. to 
withdraw from a military commitment that supports a local government.  The bombing of 

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