Right wing ideologues know only three ways to fight terrorism: be quick, be tough, be strong! Left wing ideologues also know only three ways to fight terrorism: talk, concede, negotiate! What they have in common is that they don’t care very much about the unintended consequences of their policies, but stick to their preconceived ideas no matter what. So what’s the best way to fight terrorism? Well, one thing is for sure: there is no one way of doing it.

Seth Jones and Martin Libicki “compiled and analyzed a data set of all terrorist groups between 1968 and 2006” for a report published by the Rand Corporation :

How Terrorist Groups EndImplications for Countering al Qa’ida

Watch them talk about their findings at the Middle East Institute :

Seth Jones and Martin Libicki on Antiterrorism Strategies

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Figure:

How 268 Terrorist Groups Worldwide Ended, 1968–2006, Rand Corporation

Of the 648 groups that were active at some point between 1968 and 2006, a total of 268 ended during that period. Another 136 groups splintered, and 244 remained active. The authors found that most ended for one of two reasons: They were penetrated and eliminated by local police and intelligence agencies (40 percent), or they reached a peaceful political accommodation with their government (43 percent). Most terrorist groups that ended because of politics sought narrow policy goals. The narrower the goals, the more likely the group was to achieve them through political accommodation — and thus the more likely the government and terrorists were to reach a negotiated settlement.

In 10 percent of cases, terrorist groups ended because they achieved victory. Military force led to the end of terrorist groups in 7 percent of cases. The authors found that militaries tended to be most effective when used against terrorist groups engaged in insurgencies in which the groups were large, well armed, and well organized. But against most terrorist groups, military force was usually too blunt an instrument.”

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