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Lyall on indiscriminate violence and insurgency

Abstract: Does a state’s use of indiscriminate violence incite insurgent attacks? Nearly all existing theories and empirical studies conclude that such actions only fuel insurgencies by facilitating insurgent mobilization. This proposition is tested using a natural experiment that draws on random artillery strikes by Russian forces in Chechnya (2000-05) to estimate the impact of indiscriminate violence on subsequent insurgent violence. A difference-in-difference (DD) estimation method is adopted in which shelled villages are matched with similar non-repressed settlements over identical time periods to estimate treatment effects. The findings are counterintuitive. Shelled villages and their home districts (raiony) exhibit less post-treatment violence than control groups. In addition, commonly-cited “triggers”for insurgent retaliation, including the lethality and duration of indiscriminate violence, are either insignificant or negatively correlated with insurgent attack propensity.

Jason Lyall (2007), “Does Indiscriminate Violence Incite Insurgent Attacks? Evidence from a Natural Experiment,” unpublished paper. Available here.

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