10 May 2016

Introducing Government Actions in Terror Environments (GATE) Dataset

Laura Dugan & Erica Chenoweth

When conceptualizing counterterrorism, we naturally think of large-scale military operations that aggressively target terrorist operatives. Such actions align with US President Reagan’s 1981 proclamation “Let terrorists beware that when rules of international behavior are violated, our policy will be one of swift and effective retribution.” Indeed, later US presidents followed through on Reagan’s threat by bombing Iraq’s military intelligence headquarters in 1983, attacking Afghanistan and Sudan with missiles in 1998, and leading wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since the early 2000s. Retribution follows a basic tenet of the US criminal justice system that severe punishment will deter law breaking, which appeals broadly to both policy makers and the public (Beccaria [1764] 1983). It assumes that human beings, even terrorists, are rational, self-interested actors who seek to minimize personal cost while maximizing personal gain (Ross and LaFree 1986; Paternoster 1987).


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