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From old wars to new wars and global terrorism

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Neil Johnson & Michael Spagat & Jorge A. Restrepo & Nicolás Suárez, 2005. "From old wars to new wars and global terrorism," DOCUMENTOS DE ECONOMÍA 002745, UNIVERSIDAD JAVERIANA - BOGOTÁ.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000108:002745
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    File URL: http://www.javeriana.edu.co/fcea/area_economia/inv/documents/Fromoldwarstonewwarsandglobalterrorism.pdf
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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:97:y:2003:i:01:p:135-150_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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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, 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. Mohamed Ayadi & Mohamed Salah Matoussi, 2007. "The Impact of Higher Water Costs on the Export of Tunisian Dates and Citrus," Working Papers 718, Economic Research Forum, revised 01 Jan 2007.
    4. Hamid Mohtadi & Antu Panini Murshid, 2009. "Risk of catastrophic terrorism: an extreme value approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(4), pages 537-559.
    5. Marcovina Marco & Pellero Bruno, 2015. "A Mathematical Analysis of Domestic Terrorist Activity in the Years of Lead in Italy," Peace Economics, Peace Science, and Public Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 21(3), pages 351-389, August.

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