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Thread: Do working men rebel? A call for papers.

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Do working men rebel? A call for papers.

    Gentlemen and Ladies,

    As you may or may not know, I'm taking a break from day-to-day blogging as I sort through my own emotional issues. I refuse to write unless my thoughts are controlled. However, my friends continue to press. COL Joe Felter et al, a dear friend, the founder of the USMA CTC, and a veteran of OEF-P, has co-authored a new paper entitled "Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Iraq and the Philippines."

    I'm currently working on a qualitative model and anecdotal evidence using the special case of Zaganiyah to back their quantitative analysis. I've pushed the essay to Dave Dillegge for a spot on SWC. IMHO, this essay is a must read. This thread is a call for anecdotal evidence from the field. What say y'all? Is their method a confirm/deny? My answer is a complicated yes. Attached is the full essay.



    Do Working Men Rebel? Insurgency and Unemployment in Iraq and the Philippines
    Eli Berman, Joseph Felter, and Jacob N. Shapiro
    NBER Working Paper No. 15547
    November 2009
    JEL No. F51,F52,H4,H56,J6,O12,O53

    ABSTRACT

    Most aid spending by governments seeking to rebuild social and political order is based on an opportunity-cost theory of distracting potential recruits. The logic is that gainfully employed young men are less likely to participate in political violence, implying a positive correlation between unemployment and violence in places with active insurgencies. We test that prediction on insurgencies in Iraq and the Philippines, using survey data on unemployment and two newly- available measures of insurgency: (1) attacks against government and allied forces; and (2) violence that kills civilians. Contrary to the opportunity-cost theory, we find a robust negative correlation between unemployment and attacks against government and allied forces and no significant relationship between unemployment and the rate of insurgent attacks that kill civilians.

    Eli Berman
    Department of Economics, 508
    University of California, San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, CA 92093
    and NBER
    elib@ucsd.edu

    Jacob N. Shapiro
    Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy
    and International Affairs
    Princeton University
    Robertson Hall
    Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
    jns@princeton.edu

    Joseph Felter
    Hoover Institution
    434 Galvez Mall
    Stanford University
    Stanford, CA 94305-6010
    felter@hoover.stanford.edu


    Introduction

    The vast majority of aid money spent to reduce political violence is motivated by an opportunity-cost theory of distracting recruits. Two causal logics underlie this theory1. The most commonly cited is that gainfully employed young men are less likely toparticipate in insurgent violence2. A slightly less prominent argument is that
    unemployment creates grievances, generating support for insurgent violence3. This support could lead to more violence directly—through more recruits or enhanced fundraising—or indirectly—by reducing the willingness of a population to share information with counter insurgents. Whichever causal pathway is posited, the testable implication is the same: there should be a positive correlation between unemployment and insurgent violence. We test that prediction on data from Iraq and the Philippines, using unemployment surveys and two newly- available measures of insurgency: (1)attacks against government and allied forces; and (2) violence that kills civilians.

    The opportunity-cost approach is based upon a number of often implicit assumptions about the production of insurgent violence. Some of these include:

    - Participation in insurgency is a full-time occupation, in the sense that individuals cannot be legitimately employed and active insurgents at the same time.
    - Insurgency is a low-skill occupation so that creating jobs for the marginal unemployed reduces the pool of potential recruits.
    - The supply of labor is a binding constraint on insurgent organizations.

    Each of these assumptions is questionable in some contexts, suggesting first that empirical testing is warranted, and second, that the relationship between unemployment and insurgency may be more complex than is commonly assumed.

    A number of alternative possible causal channels actually predict a negative correlation between unemployment and violence. Suppose, for example, that the main constraint on the production of violence is the extent to which non-combatants share information about insurgents with the government (Kalyvas, 2006; Berman, Shapiro and Felter, 2008). This might imply no
    correlation between unemployment and violence, or, if counterinsurgents spend money to buy intelligence –as they routinely do, as the local employment picture worsens and household incomes drop, the marginal dollar spent to buy inforation will go further and violence will fall. Alternatively, suppose that security efforts—establishing checkpoints and the like—reduce
    violence but also increase unemployment by impeding the movement of goods and services.

    That would imply a negative correlation between unemployment and violence. Or, fighting a perceived occupying force might be something people do out of belief in the cause, but can do only once basic needs are accounted for. If insurgency is a normal “good” in this narrow sense, then an improved economic situation could lead to greater levels of participation and hence
    greater violence so that reduced unemployment causes more violence. We survey other alternative theories below.

    To empirically distinguish between theories we use panel data on local unemployment and insurgent violence in two countries: Iraq and the Philippines. These countries vary greatly both in geography and in the nature and intensity of the insurgencies they face. Yet they yield broadly
    similar results.

    Using a variety of statistical models we find that the data rule out a positive correlation between unemployment and violence for both the Iraqi and Philippine insurgencies; if there is an opportunity cost effect, it is not dominant in either case. Why is the correlation of unemployment and violence generally negative? Existing data do not allow us to fully adjudicate between possible reasons, but we offer preliminary evidence that it is due to the relationship between local economic conditions and counterinsurgents’ efforts to combat violence. Our findings are consistent with two hypotheses concerning counterinsurgency: (1) as local economic conditions deteriorate, government forces and their allies are able to buy more intelligence on insurgents (i.e., the price of information falls); and (2) efforts to enhance security—establishing checkpoints and the like—damage the economy.

    The remainder of this paper describes our effort to study the relationship between unemployment and insurgent violence in Iraq and the Philippines. First, we briefly review the existing literature on this relationship. We then describe our data, report estimation results, and conclude.

    1 United States Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual, 2006.
    2 General Chiarelli, the U.S. Army Commander of Multinational Forces in Iraq, made this
    argument in a press briefing, December 8, 2006.
    3 See, for example, Brainard and Chollet, 2007, p. 3.
    Best

    Mike
    Attached Files Attached Files

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default My initial reply...the special case of Zaganiyah

    Two emails combined...

    I was not suprised by your findings. It something that I knew intuitively, but I was unsure of how to articulate or prove it. You've helped me with that.

    In my time in Iraq, men continued to resist despite employment or wealth. They resisted based off feelings. These emotions ranged from pride, arrogance, jealousy, anger, and bitterness. This motive was projected towards different actors- the government, sects, religions, ethnicities, and other families. Again, it was mutually exclusive to the amount of money we handed out, services the government provided, or jobs available.

    In our own country, we're dealing with a new greivance- the perceived state of the underemployed. I'm not sure how to translate this factor. It's a perception that someone is owed a better job or better wage based on his/her education, background, or talent. We violate the fundamental truth that one cannot spend more than one makes, but we demand more. It concerns me because I believe it drives into the heart of the social scientist question of "why do men rebel?"

    Anyways, I just wanted to tell you that I appreciated your work, and I look forward to reading more. Currently, I'm reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Her insights are quite profound towards this discussion.

    ************************************************** ******

    I wrote this short essay today to assist y'all. You're doing some great work, and I can back up a portion of your quantitative analysis with a qualitative model and anecdotal evidence from my own experience. I have not published this model or my findings, and it is something that I may eventually use for a dissertation. Take some time to digest it. If my thoughts are helpful and you want to include it in a later publication, then just let me know.

    Your results are neither controversial nor counterintuitive. Instead, they flow with the reason and logic of the great thinkers prior to this post-colonial, post-modern era. Moreover, the great practisioners of past small wars understood intuitively that sometimes less is more. So, keep at it .

    John Nash wanted to answer the question- how does one derive a fair settlement between two hostile parties? He determined that fair value was a measure of properly dividing utility based-on perceived effort, relative value, and merit. His end result was Nash Arbitration. When applied to hostile business contracts, his method works brilliantly. When applied to hostile social contracts (divorce, labor disputes,gangs, and insurgencies), his measure is left wanting. In social contracts, fairness is a measure of both utility AND emotion.

    My model expands a bit past employment and violence, but I think it may have some value to your research. It shows emotion and utility, or in this case, hearts (emotion) and minds (utility). Keep in mind, with your initial work, dudes that join insurgencies are employed just like drug dealers are employed by gangs. We just don't track those statistics.

    In the most simplest of descriptions, a woman's scorn in a hostile divorce will never be resolved by simple redistribution of property, assets, or alimony. In other words, in social contracts, a fair arbitration of utility cannot reliquish emotions of betrayal, hatred, anger, or disappointment.

    In the same manner, simple employment, wages earned from services provided, will not stop a man with perceived grievances from taking up arms against his oppressor, destroying his roads, or blowing himself up in martyrdom. In today's world, described by President Obama as the Age of Selfishness (Fort Hood, 2009), there is a sense of entitlement that extends past the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (or property).

    As is the nature of these matters, y'all will probably end this reading with more questions than answers. I left Iraq that way. Such is the endeavor of the social scientist. Let me know what y'all think. I'm in the process of leaving NPS so I'll include alternative contact information in case this email is void.

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    Default the Palestinian case

    I'm not sure what the attitudinal data in Iraq shows, but in the Palestinian territories there is certainly little or no linkage between unemployment and support for armed attacks against Israel--indeed, socioeconomic factors appear, in general, to have little effect on political attitudes at all.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    One of the general, underlying assumptions of the correlation is that money = status. This is, in actuality, quite problematic for many individuals and in a number of cultures since it is a reflection of a base metaphysics that abstracts "worth" outside of an individual. At best, it is a marginal return on investment in economic language.

    Mike, if you are looking for a qualitative correlation, especially amongst young men, then look at the local requirements for getting married. This may be related to income, capital or status (i.e. position within a ranked social structure), but is unlikely to be directly correlated with "employment" (which is a quite recent concept and reality; roughly 1850's or so).

    You also have to look really seriously at the local cultural matrix as well. This is what Rex is getting at in the Palestinian case, since cultures are quite able to create "vectors of aggression" in the social ranking systems. BTW, if you want a US version of that, watch Glee and look at the interaction between the football team and the Glee club .

    Cheers,

    Marc
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    My inner math geekiness gets excited when I see quantitative analysis that is derived from good data sets. I wrote too much initially.

    Here's the bottom line:

    COL Felter and some academics found a negative correlation in Iraq and the Phillipines between employment and violence. Over time, as employment increased, violence increased.

    This is counter-intuitive to what we now think. GEN Charialli and the 1st CAV had "success" in Sadr City in 04/05 by getting the young men off the streets and employed. GEN Patraeus told us in 07 that money is a weapon. The academics analysis suggest otherwise. The real answer is probably sometimes, it depends.

    What they need now is for practisioners to confirm/deny their hypothesis with anecdotal evidence. After that, they can start using econometrics and qualitative work to ask why it works in some areas and why it does not work in others (as Rex and Marc are suggesting).

    So the question is

    In your experience, did the level of violence increase/decrease as we flooded an AO with money and the men were employed?

    Marc- I refuse to watch Glee .

    Mike

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Default Just a suggested addendum....

    Mike, just so you don't have to get the data later, it would be a really, REALLY, good idea to get any anecdotal evidence discretely located in both space and time (e.g. "Tikrit, Aug 2006" vs "Iraq"). That will let you start working out the local cultural variables that give rise to the negative correlation. BTW, I find it perfectly intuitive - then again, I live in a government town !
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    More work = more violence? That seems neither intuitive nor counterintuitive to me. There is a reason that we refer to certain shootings as "going postal" rather than "going unemployed." Lots of people hate their jobs.

    I would assert that a welfare state that functions well (by "well" I mean that it efficiently churns out the welfare benefits) stands a good chance of experiencing very little violence because people are getting a large part of their income for little more than filling out paperwork and demonstrating need and/or helplessness, real or faked.

    I would also assert that a relatively wealthy society with a non-existent welfare apparatus could quite easily turn violent if a large portion of the population is poor (low income and/or few assets) because the sense of inequality and rejection, merited or not, will rile people up or make them prone to being riled up by agitators.

    I think there are a lot of other factors besides income. Are people upset? Do they blame the gov't? Do they feel threatened (by an ethnic group gaining power, an ideology gaining power, laws changing significantly, etc)? You can have a high-paying job, be angry about something unrelated to income/assets, and blame the gov't. Consider how many rich comfortable people hate(d) GW Bush and were willing to cough up cash to defeat him and, when that failed in '04, were willing to cough up cash to defeat McCain simply because he was successfully portrayed as Bush II. Grievances can come from anywhere. While they are often real or legitimate, they need not be.

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    Council Member Cavguy's Avatar
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    I'm inclined to agree with your thesis. Jobs never really seemed to dampen the insurgency in my limited experiences. Security did, combined with legitimate local government.

    Kind of confirms Moyar's thesis that the real problem is in grievance against the govt/system .... which is a problem of leadership.

    And means we're in deep doo-doo in Afghanistan.
    "A Sherman can give you a very nice... edge."- Oddball, Kelly's Heroes
    Who is Cavguy?

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    I would assert that a welfare state that functions well (by "well" I mean that it efficiently churns out the welfare benefits) stands a good chance of experiencing very little violence because people are getting a large part of their income for little more than filling out paperwork and demonstrating need and/or helplessness, real or faked.
    I'd flip your analysis on its head. A welfare state that functions efficiently already assumes several major social stabilizers are in place: (1) commands enough resources to distribute (2) has data and control over enough population to distribute welfare goods (3) has the bureaucratic mechanisms and social players to both extract and distribute such goods.

    Kind of confirms Moyar's thesis that the real problem is in grievance against the govt/system .... which is a problem of leadership.
    I don't think that's leadership. That's politics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    There is a reason that we refer to certain shootings as "going postal" rather than "going unemployed." Lots of people hate their jobs.
    Very good point.

    Cavguy said:
    And means we're in deep doo-doo in Afghanistan.
    Not necessarily. All this analysis is showing is that throwing money at the problem doesn't work. Rex's example of Palestine-Israel is probably the best case in point. I always scratched my head when guys boast over how much CERP/Reconstruction money they spent during their tour. My point was so what? What is the effect or return on investment?

    That's the benefit of what some scholars are now doing. They're using available data to test our assumptions and COIN strategies to find out what works and what doesn't work and why.

    Here's some things that do work, and it partially goes back to the saying "time heals all wounds."

    1. Conflict Resolution. The marraige counselor of small wars- neutral mediator attempts to help competing factions resolve differences. If no resolution is found, then groups may have to be seperated (Bosnia/Serbia).

    2. Forgiveness. I listened to a discussion on NPR about how Rwandans opened up a public forum for former fighters to apologize for atrocities. Apparently, it's working.

    3. Increase of violence by the host nation/COIN to establish control. This works in the short term as we know from Iraq (Population control measures, lowered targeting criteria, curfews, food/service restrictions, etc), but the long-term effectiveness is in doubt if not coupled with other measures.

    4. Micro-Financing. Initially started by Mohammed Yunnis on the village level and taken globally with internet sites like Ashoka.org, these organizations attempt to fundamentally change societies through vetted, targeted development.

    Mike

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    COL Felter and some academics found a negative correlation in Iraq and the Phillipines between employment and violence. Over time, as employment increased, violence increased.

    This is counter-intuitive to what we now think. GEN Charialli and the 1st CAV had "success" in Sadr City in 04/05 by getting the young men off the streets and employed. GEN Patraeus told us in 07 that money is a weapon. The academics analysis suggest otherwise. The real answer is probably sometimes, it depends.
    A statistician would likely call it simply "empirically unrelated".

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    Surely whether working men rebel is primarily related to whether they're getting laid. Now that is scientific fact. There's no real evidence for it; but it is scientific fact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meh View Post
    Surely whether working men rebel is primarily related to whether they're getting laid. Now that is scientific fact. There's no real evidence for it; but it is scientific fact.
    That is entirely true. I don't know if we men would do much of anything without the sexual motivation. That is with the obvious exclusion of violent acts which we will commit to get laid, or because we are not getting laid. Perhaps we should initiate sex-centric counter insurgency operations. I'm trying to reverse engineer an operational acronym. So far I have: Sex Centric Human Tactical Optimized Orgasm Program, or "SCHTOOP."

    I remember a few years ago when CNN was covering how the most popular pharmaceuticals in Iraq were Prozac and Viagra. Perhaps we missed something.

    Adam L

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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam L View Post
    That is entirely true. I don't know if we men would do much of anything without the sexual motivation. That is with the obvious exclusion of violent acts which we will commit to get laid, or because we are not getting laid. Perhaps we should initiate sex-centric counter insurgency operations. I'm trying to reverse engineer an operational acronym. So far I have: Sex Centric Human Tactical Optimized Orgasm Program, or "SCHTOOP."

    I remember a few years ago when CNN was covering how the most popular pharmaceuticals in Iraq were Prozac and Viagra. Perhaps we missed something.

    Adam L
    It's interesting that this point comes up. I had a conversation with a special operations civil affairs soldier who was supporting a NSW team. He told the tale of doing well at one key leader engagement with a small sheik because they spent several hours talking about nothing but porn, sex, and the shiek's exploits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    It's interesting that this point comes up. I had a conversation with a special operations civil affairs soldier who was supporting a NSW team. He told the tale of doing well at one key leader engagement with a small sheik because they spent several hours talking about nothing but porn, sex, and the shiek's exploits.
    I'm telling you the fourth F is the key to victory

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    It's interesting that this point comes up. I had a conversation with a special operations civil affairs soldier who was supporting a NSW team. He told the tale of doing well at one key leader engagement with a small sheik because they spent several hours talking about nothing but porn, sex, and the shiek's exploits.
    There are two universal cross-cultural constants. The first is porn, and the second is The Rolling Stones.

    Adam L

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcustis View Post
    It's interesting that this point comes up. I had a conversation with a special operations civil affairs soldier who was supporting a NSW team. He told the tale of doing well at one key leader engagement with a small sheik because they spent several hours talking about nothing but porn, sex, and the shiek's exploits.
    It's very interesting that he brought this point up. My unit caught one bomb-maker, and outside of the bomb-making dvds we found, we found substational amounts of American and home-made deviant porn.

    Also, Sayid Qutb supposedly had some issues with sex.

    I've always wondered if that was a causal variable. Kinda hard to prove. It's like trying to figure out how many men are employed by a gang or insurgent group. Can you imagine a survey officer walking around asking,

    "Excuse me, my records show that you are currently unemployed. Are you gainfully employed by al Qaeda?" Probably wouldn't go over very well.

    Mike

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    I should also note that how often one frequents and posts on message boards is inversely related to how often one gets laid. Now that's scientific fact....etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Meh View Post
    I should also note that how often one frequents and posts on message boards is inversely related to how often one gets laid. Now that's scientific fact....etc.
    Nah...for some of us it is more of a post-coital thing.

    Adam L

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    Default Cause or effect ?

    According to Dave Grossman (author of On Combat and On Killing), there is a corellation between sex and violence (killing, watching others being killed, thinking of killing, thinking of being killed, etc.).

    Not a shrink, and not trying to be; so, I dunno if sex is a cause or an effect. I suppose the two things could be interactive.

    If you think about it, the whole thing might be an ancient, hard-wired species survival mechanism: take a life, create a life.

    Regards

    Mike

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