Fighting Suicide Bombers: What Works?

Efraim Benmelech,?Claude Berrebi and?Esteban F. Klor have already argued that a bad economy equals deadlier terrorists. Now, the three economists have turned their attention to the effects of house demolitions on terrorism. A new working paper (ungated version) from the trio?finds that “punitive house demolitions (those targeting Palestinian suicide terrorists and terror operatives) cause an immediate, significant decrease in the number of suicide attacks.” Careful, though: the authors also find that “precautionary house demolitions (demolitions justified by the location of the house but not related to the identity or any action of the house’s owner) cause a significant increase in the number of suicide terror attacks.” [%comments]

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  1. Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team says:

    Eric M. Jones:
    Your approach to mediation was EXACTLY what world famous Anglican Envoy, Peace-Negotiator Terry Waite did. He was on the path to Sainthood or the Nobel Prize for bringing out Westerners kidnapped in various Middle Eastern locales. He had traveled extensively to the Middle East and had a working fluency in Arab. He successfully dealt with the Iranians, Sadam, Arabs and Hamas extremist groups and was well guarded and respected.

    In 1987 he disappeared while negotiating in Beirut. He was held hostage for ransom for over 4 years, most of it in solitary confinement by an Islamic Jihadist group. He was finally released after 1700 days.

    He went part mad from PTSD and depression. He never went back again to Beirut negotiate with the arabs. I think he has a more realistic attitude today towards negotiation. Somehow his mind changed–nobody really knows why.

    I think you could be a great envoy for Peace Talks! The Arabs love peacemakers. And you would be welcome to stay as a ‘guest’.

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  2. tungbo says:

    @Drill-Baby-Drill Drill

    One should be cautious to limit one’s view to the “suicide bomber” by him/her-self. Except for the delusional loners who goes ‘postal’, the politically motivated “suicide bombers” are supported by a network of supporters as well as an ideology that justify their actions.
    Therefor, the rational approach to preventing “suicide bombing” would be to act to disrupt the effectiveness of the support network and their ideology. Some of the financial transactions forensics is now going after the fiscal support. Change of policy or effective communication of competing alternatives can defuse the persuasivenss of their ideology. ( Attack on the so called ‘ground zero mosque’ produce exactly the opposite effect. )

    The working paper mentioned supports this view: razing the house of bombers disrupts their support network, but razing random houses only reinforces their ideology. Such approaches do NOT require suspension of any civil liberty or presumption of guilt.

    The assertion, “And if he has a clean record, we cannot touch him prior to his crime, since he is presumed innocent.” is not accurate. One can be charged with ‘Conspiracy’ or ‘attempted murder’ without actually setting off a bomb. Presumption of Innocence only means that the prosecutor bears the burden of proof as opposed to the accused; it does not mean one cannot be arrested.

    Even for citizens of Israel, the chance of being killed by a suicide bomber is VERY small. We probably have a greater chance to be run over by a car. I assert that it is our FEAR which is overblown. So allow me to suggest that “Freedom suffers from Fear and Terrorism” when we blithely give up our civil liberties for the illusion of a quick fix.

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  3. Dave says:

    Why the long URL via Google for the ungated version?

    The actual location of the document is sitting in the middle of that long string of characters: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/benmelech/files/HD_october_18_with_tables.pdf

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  4. Kristine A says:

    My uncle worked in intel during the 80s in DC. He tells me that the simplest solution to stop the suicide bombers: retaliation to families. Let it be known any suicide bomber’s family will be met with immediate death. The suicide bombings immediately stop. They can die heroes and martyrs but can’t let their families suffer a similar fate. My uncle’s conclusion (tongue in cheek): too bad the US has a conscience, or we could have eradicated suicide bombing decades ago. Because the bad part about the deal to make it work? We actually have to follow through with it.

    p.s. After my uncle was released from service he received a medal of honor for work he did in intel. He asked them what project it was for. Their response? We can’t tell you, it’s classified.

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  5. Rex says:

    Demolition of houses for terrorism is a pretext for a land grab. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Israel is an outlaw nation.

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