Nemeth, Stephen and Jacob A. Mauslein. 2018. “Geography and the Certainty of Terrorism Event Coding.” Journal of Global Security Studies (forthcoming).
Abstract: While event data provides researchers with insight into contemporary security threats, many are built upon secondary sources that may insert bias into empirical studies. Specifically, we argue that one form of bias – description bias – can be conditional on an event’s characteristics or locale, thus influencing the certainty an observation is coded as an act of terrorism. We find that, using the Global Terrorism Database’s own variables, attacks on civilians, particular types of tactics, and attacks that occur closer to a populated place are more likely to be coded as terrorism. These findings speak to broader conceptual issues in terrorism research and reiterates the need for researchers to evaluate the validity of their data before making claims.
Nemeth, Stephen and Jacob A. Mauslein. 2017. “Generosity Is a Dangerous Game: Aid Allocation and the Risks of Terrorism.” Terrorism and Political Violence (forthcoming).
Abstract: While evidence has suggested that international assistance projects become the targets of violence, political science research has often addressed this relationship at the state level and not the aid location itself. Given the heterogeneous nature of aid distribution and terrorist behavior within a state, it is important to study this relationship using higher resolution data. Using geocoded terrorist attack and multilateral aid distribution data, coupled with the PRIO-GRID cell structure, our approach sheds light on whether areas in which aid is distributed are more likely to be targeted by terrorist groups. Our results show that areas where aid is being distributed are targeted more heavily than areas without aid distribution. The modality of specific multilateral aid projects is also shown to impact whether they are more likely to be targeted. Further, we show that terrorists select different types of targets in aid locations than they do in non-aid locations, lending support to the notion that terrorists seek to intimidate local populations from collaboration with the government and to dissuade further government efforts. The results not only highlight and expand upon the dangers associated with aid distribution, but also the notion that aid content is a factor in terrorist targeting preferences.
This article is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2017.1377074
Asal, Victor, Jacob A. Mauslein, Amanda Murdie, Joseph Young, Ken Cousins, and Chris Bronk. 2016. “Repression, Education, and Politically Motivated Cyberattacks.” Journal of Global Security Studies 1(3): 235-247.
Abstract: What factors drive politically motivated cyberattacks? Our research focuses on one particular kind of cyberattack: politically motivated, distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS). We argue that denial-of-service attacks are a particular form of a larger category of political contention that is more similar to nonviolent than violent activism. We offer a country-level explanation that helps establish why some nation-states are more likely to suffer such attacks while most others are not. When we control for wealth and Internet penetration, the strongest factor explaining why a country is more likely to suffer DDoS attacks is the dangerous combination of repression and a highly educated population. The results have important implications both for the scholarly study of this form of contention, as well as for policymakers grappling with this new form of activism.
This paper is available at: https://academic.oup.com/jogss/article/1/3/235/2579752
Nemeth, Stephen C., Jacob A. Mauslein, and Craig Stapley. 2014. “The Primacy of the Local: Identifying Terrorist Hot Spots Using Geographic Information Systems.” The Journal of Politics 76(2): 304-317.
Abstract: Despite the wide range of studies focused on the causes of terrorism, most use the state as the unit of analysis. Doing so, however, overlooks important variation that occurs within the state. Our research seeks to determine the causes of domestic terrorism through a more refined unit of analysis. We do this by using the PRIO-GRID cell structure spatially merged with a geocoded version of the GTD dataset. We then perform a Getis-Ord Gi* hot spot analysis to uncover those local areas most prone to domestic terrorism. Our results indicate the following attributes increase the likelihood of terrorism: mountainous terrain, close proximity to a state capital, large population, high population density, and poor economic conditions. When testing between regime types, we find that factors such as population, economic conditions, and the number of ethnic groups are significant only in democracies, while distance to capital is significant only in autocracies.
This paper is available via Web of Science or JSTOR, or at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022381613001333
Abstract: In this paper, we advance a theoretical framework for defining hyper-extractive coupled-systems in theUnited States. Our purpose is to extend a model constructed for an agricultural system in SouthwestKansas into a general theory that can be used to successfully classify counties across the U.S. that dependon the extraction of natural resources. We begin with developing the theoretical foundations for thehyper-extractive coupled-system. We thenfit this theory within the existing literature regarding theclassification of rural counties. Finally, drawing on a coupled humanenatural systems theoreticalframework (Liu et al., 2007), we develop a new spatially based empirical measure of rural context thatcaptures the complex, multidimensional interactions between humans and their natural environments.GIS hot spot and factor analytic techniques are used to empirically identify existing coupled-systems,linking contiguous counties in the rural U.S. based on 35 indicators of land use, employment patterns,demographics, physiography, and climate. In addition to identifying three different types of hyper-extractive counties across the U.S., our approach reveals a number of other coupled-systems based onagriculture and ranching, mining, manufacturing, scenic amenities, and forestry and fishing.
This paper is available for download, free of charge, at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0143622812001038
Dissertation: “Three Essays on International Cyber Threats: Target Nation Characteristics, International Rivalry, and Asymmetric Information Exchange”
Abstract: As the Internet is progressively integrated into industrial and defense-related networks around the globe, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how state and sub-state groups can use Internet vulnerabilities as a conduit of attack. The current social science literature on cyber threats is largely dominated by descriptive, U.S.-centric research. While this scholarship is important, the findings are not generalizable and fail to address the global aspects of network vulnerabilities. As a result, this dissertation employs a unique dataset of cyber threats from around the world, spanning from 1990 to 2011. This dataset allows for three diverse empirical studies to be conducted. The first study investigates the political, social, and economic characteristics that increase the likelihood of a state being targeted for cyber threats. The results show that different state characteristics are likely to influence the forms of digital attack targeting. For example, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and military size are more likely to be targeted for cyber attacks. Inversely, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and those that are more democratic are less likely to be targeted for cyber terrorism. The second study investigates the role that international rivalries play in cyber threat targeting. The results suggest that states in rivalries may have more reason to strengthen their digital security, and rival actors may be cautious about employing serious, threatening forms of cyber activity against foes because of concerns about escalation. The final study, based upon the crisis bargaining theory, seeks to determine if cyber threat targeting decreases private information asymmetry and therefore decreases conflict participation. Empirical results show that the loss of digital information via cyber means may thus illicit a low intensity threat or militarized action by a target state, but it also simultaneously increases the likelihood that a bargain may be researched, preventing full scale war by reducing the amount of private information held between parties.
These three essays are currently being prepared for publication. The full dissertation can be viewed at: http://hdl.handle.net/2097/18147