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Fighting Terrorism at Source

Using Foreign Aid to Delegate Global Security

Jean-Paul Azam and Véronique Thelen

This book offers a unique and insightful econometric evaluation of the policies used to fight transnational terrorism between 1990 and 2014 using a sample of 124 countries. It proves that foreign aid plays a crucial role by inducing recipient governments to protect the donors’ political and economic interests within their sphere of influence. In contrast, US troops on the ground are counter-productive as they increase the supply of terrorist attacks from the host countries, even though this effect has been significantly reduced by the Obama administration.
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Chapter 3: Why suicide terrorists get educated

Using Foreign Aid to Delegate Global Security

Jean-Paul Azam and Véronique Thelen


Madness alone is truly terrifying, inasmuch as you cannot placate it either by threats, persuasion, or bribes.(Joseph Conrad, 2004 [1907], p. 28)

In general, the higher the level of education of the unemployed, alienated, or otherwise dissatisfied person, the more extreme the destabilizing behavior which results. Alienated university graduates prepare revolutions; alienated technical or secondary school graduates plan coups; alienated primary school leavers engage in more frequent but less significant forms of political unrest.(Samuel P. Huntington, 1968, p. 48)

The rational-choice theorists have felt challenged by the widespread phenomenon of suicide-bombing, as mentioned above. The puzzle has been made even more intense by the findings of Krueger and Maleckova (2003) that terrorists in general, and suicide terrorists in particular, usually come from relatively well-off segments of their society of origin. They usually have a higher than average education level, compared to other people from their group of origin, and their parents are also relatively well off. This ‘quality of terror’ puzzle has given rise to a fairly active theoretical literature (see Bueno de Mesquita, 2005a, where this expression is coined). This puzzle seems to challenge the rationality hypothesis, because such young people in all probability have a much better chance of facing the prospect of a rewarding future professional career and of enjoying a much better life than other youth from the same cohort. Hence, their opportunity cost of risking their life seems much higher, and of course the opportunity cost of destroying it...

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