SOAS University of London

Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy

Do Terrorists Win? Rebels’ Use of Terrorism and Civil War Outcomes

Prof Page Fortna

Date: 19 March 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 19 March 2014Time: 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: 0

All welcome. No registration required.

How effective is terrorism?  This question has generated lively scholarly debate and is of obvious importance to policy makers.  Most existing studies of terrorism are not well-equipped to answer this question, however, as they lack an appropriate comparison.  This paper compares the outcomes of civil wars to assess whether rebel groups that use terrorism fare better than those who eschew this tactic.  I evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of terrorism relative to other tactics used in civil war.  Because terrorism is not a tactic employed at random, I first briefly explore empirically which groups use terrorism.  Controlling for factors that may affect both the use of terrorism and war outcomes, I find that while civil wars involving terrorism last longer than other wars, terrorist rebel groups are generally less likely to achieve their larger political objectives than are non-terrorist groups.  Terrorism may be less ineffective against democracies, but even in this context, terrorists do not win.

Page Fortna is Professor and Department Chair of Political Science at Columbia University, and a member of the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies.  Her research focuses on the durability of peace in the aftermath of both civil and interstate wars, war termination, and, most recently, terrorism.  

She is the author of two books: Does Peacekeeping Work? Shaping Belligerents Choices after Civil War (Princeton University Press, 2008) and Peace Time: Cease-Fire Agreements and the Durability of Peace (Princeton University Press, 2004).  She has published articles in journals such as World Politics, International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and International Studies Review.  She is currently working on a book project on the causes and consequences of terrorism in civil wars.   

Fortna was honored to receive Columbia University’s Distinguished Faculty Award (aka  Lenfest) in 2014, and the International Studies Association’s Karl Deutsch Award in 2010.  She has been the recipient of grants from the NSF, the Carnegie Corporation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.  She was a Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University (2004-2005) and a Visiting Fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, MA (2002-2003).  Before coming to Columbia, Fortna was a pre-doctoral and then a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.  Her graduate work was done in the Government Department at Harvard University (Ph.D. 1998).  Before graduate school, she worked at the Henry L. Stimson Center, a think tank in Washington DC.  She is a graduate of Wesleyan University.  She teaches classes on international politics, war termination, cooperation and security, terrorism, and research methods.

She is married to the artist Pete Beeman.  They and their daughters, Rosie and Linden, live in New York City and Portland, Oregon.

This event is part of the CISD International Relations Speaker Series

Organiser: Leslie Vinjamuri

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