For us Poli/Sci International Relations geeks, polls and surveys and studies are something we end up immersing ourselves in somewhere after the beginning of our masters work and we emerge out of it right after our Ph. D dissertation. We spend our time analyzing (in the abstract) things like; "whether or not post-modern Marxism contributed to the perceived downfall of the idea of useful socialism and the effect it had on native peoples in sub-Saharan Africa in the immediate post colonial era."
Yeah, I know, the sure cure for insomnia.... Almost feel asleep in a puddle of drool just writing that part.
But every once in awhile, a piece of research comes along that sounds the horn of truth that we all know to be true, but they back it up with some good research and facts and figures...
The National Bureau of Economic Research has published an interesting paper by Radha Iyengar at the Center for Government and International Studies at Harvard University, and Jonathan Monten, an International Security Program Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs with the Kennedy School of Government.
And they posit an interesting question... Are insurgents affected by information on US casualty sensitivity?
The answer they found was something we already know...
Their abstract from the website was:
Using data on attacks and variation in access to international news across Iraqi provinces, we identify an "emboldenment" effect by comparing the rate of insurgent attacks in areas with higher and lower access to information about U.S news after public statements critical of the war. We find in periods after a spike in war-critical statements, insurgent attacks increases by 5-10 percent. The results suggest that insurgent groups respond rationally to expected probability of US withdrawal. As such, counterinsurgency should consider deterrence and incapacitation rather than simply search and destroy missions.
I do not agree with the last premise in that statement (emphasis mine), because I think you have to have both strategies (Kinetic and non-Kinetic) in order to effectively destroy an insurgency. That is a topic for another day.
That notwithstanding, the researchers findings in their study were:
First, the findings suggest that there is an explicit and quantifiable cost to public debate during wartime in the form of increased attacks. Based on these results, it appears that Iraqi insurgent groups believe that when the U.S. political landscape is more uncertain, initiating a higher level of attacks increases the likelihood that the U.S. will reduce the scope of its engagement in the conflict.
Second, the insurgent response to low resolve periods may not represent an overall increase in the total number of attacks, but rather a change in the timing of attacks. Because it may be difficult and costly to increase the frequency of attacks in a particular time period, insurgent groups may only seek to do this when the returns are sufficiently high. New information about U.S. cost-sensitivity increases the perceived return to violence and thus insurgent groups condense the violence they would have committed over several weeks into a shorter time horizon.
Third, regardless of whether the observed effect represents an overall increase or intertemporal substitution, the evidence in this study indicates that insurgent groups are strategic actors that respond to the incentives created by the policies and actions of the counterinsurgent force, rather than groups driven by purely ideological concerns with little sensitivity to costs.
The arguments and evidence presented in this paper suggest that insurgent groups do appear to respond to U.S. cost-sensitivity. The result is that insurgents attack more frequently and kill or injure more U.S. service men and women.
The salient point, is when cowardly Democrats, empty headed movie stars, drugged up delusional hippies or phony soldiers step in front of news cameras and say things like "The Surge is a failure" or "The Iraqis have to step up and do more" or "our troops murdered those people in cold blood because of the stress they are under" the Democrat Party, the Code Pink freaks, The ANSWER Crowd, et. al. cause the death of more American Soldiers by emboldening our enemies to attack us and to continue to fight on, in the hopes of driving us from the battlefield.
I know that world class losers like Medea Benjamin, Jack Murtha, Harry Reid or Jeese Beauchamp won't ever get the point of their traitorous comments and I will probably see pigs flying around the moon before any of them will apologize for their statements.
But I do want the IVAW to remember this study and it's conclusions when they start their Winter Soldier (Redux) Testimony farce and tell stories about how they saw (insert war crime here) and participated in (insert war crime here) and I want them especially to think about all of their comrades (some that I am certain they are still friends with) who are still walking patrol in Diyala, Muqdadiyah, and Anbar and conducting operations in Musa Qala, Zormat, Kolagu, Bermel and the Korengal.
I want them to know that we can prove not only anecdotally, but empirically, that the things they say can and will have an effect on the actions of our enemies in our fight against them.
And like the Swift Boat Vets, we too will not forget....