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Regime and Power in International Terror Crises: Strong Democracies Fight Back Hard

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This study explores regime, power, and violence in international terror crises (ITCs). It examines terror strikes and retaliations against the terror groups and their hosts. The exploration tests two hypotheses: first, democracies, like other states, retaliate, even at the risk of escalation; and second, strong democracies fight back with massive violence as do authoritarian regimes. Historical narratives of ITCs from 1934 to 2006 show that strong democracies were the most common targets of terror. Like authoritarian states, they responded to terror, but were the most violent retaliators, followed by weaker states, democratic or not. So the democratic constraints affect weaker states more than stronger ones. These trends draw attention to the destabilizing nature of international terror and its challenge to the peaceful resolution of international disputes.
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Keywords: counter-terror; democracy; international crisis; power; terror

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Political Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel

Publication date: July 1, 2014

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