The inadvertent effects of democracy on terrorist group proliferation
Why does terrorism proliferate in democracies? Why do groups and individuals commit costly atrocities rather than use existing legal channels through which to express their political grievances? The findings in my dissertation suggest a counterintuitive explanation for this puzzle---that competition among both conventional interest groups and existing terrorist groups within democracies compels emerging terrorist groups to outbid the others for influence by using still more violence. The research design calls for mixed methods through nested analysis, using both large-n quantitative analysis and qualitative comparative case studies of terrorist group activity in the United Kingdom and Italy. The findings suggest that the combination of conventional interest group mobilization and increased activity of rival terrorist groups can inadvertently encourage new terrorist groups to form. The project has important implications for current US foreign policy, which advocates democracy-promotion as a core component of US national security. Contrary to such conventional wisdom, this research finds that democracy is not an antidote to terrorism despite its desirable effects in other areas. The final chapter offers practical policy solutions to this dilemma, including ways to reconcile problems of governance and individual alienation within democracies.
0616: International relations