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From old wars to new wars and global terrorism

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Author Info

  • Neil Johnson

    ()

  • Michael Spagat

    ()

  • Jorge A. Restrepo

    ()

  • Nicolás Suárez

    ()

Abstract

The 9/11 attacks created an urgent need to understand contemporary wars and their relationship to older conventional and terrorist wars, both of which exhibit remarkable regularities. The frequency-intensity distribution of fatalities in "old wars", 1816-1980, is a power-law with exponent 1.80. Global terrorist attacks, 1968-present, also follow a power-law with exponent 1.71 for G7 countries and 2.5 for non-G7 countries. Here we analyze two ongoing, high-profile wars on opposite sides of the globe - Colombia and Iraq. Our analysis uses our own unique dataset for killings and injuries in Colombia, plus publicly available data for civilians killed in Iraq. We show strong evidence for power-law behavior within each war. Despite substantial differences in contexts and data coverage, the power-law coefficients for both wars are tending toward 2.5, which is a value characteristic of non-G7 terrorism as opposed to old wars. We propose a plausible yet analytically-solvable model of modern insurgent warfare, which can explain these observations.

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File URL: http://www.javeriana.edu.co/fcea/area_economia/inv/documents/Fromoldwarstonewwarsandglobalterrorism.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by UNIVERSIDAD JAVERIANA - BOGOTÁ in its series DOCUMENTOS DE ECONOMÍA with number 002745.

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Length: 31
Date of creation: 30 Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:col:000108:002745

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Cited by:
  1. Alvarez-Ramirez Jose & Rodriguez Eduardo & Tyrtania Leonardo & Urrea-Garcìa Galo R, 2010. "Regime-Transitions in the 2003-2010 Iraq War: An Approach Based on Correlations of Daily Fatalities," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, De Gruyter, vol. 16(1), pages 1-41, December.
  2. Mohtadi, Hamid & Murshid, Antu, 2009. "The risk of catastrophic terrorism: an extreme value approach," MPRA Paper 25738, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Hamid Mohtadi & Antu Panini Murshid, 2009. "Risk of catastrophic terrorism: an extreme value approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 537-559.

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