By Shawn Waterman
United Press International
March 24, 2008
Researchers at Harvard say that publicly voiced doubts about the U.S. occupation of Iraq have a measurable “emboldenment effect” on insurgents there.
Periods of intense news media coverage in the United States of criticism about the war, or of polling about public opinion on the conflict, are followed by a small but quantifiable increases in the number of attacks on civilians and U.S. forces in Iraq, according to a study by Radha Iyengar, a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in health policy research at Harvard and Jonathan Monten of the Belfer Center at the university’s Kennedy School of Government.
The increase in attacks is more pronounced in areas of Iraq that have better access to international news media, the authors conclude in a report titled “Is There an ‘Emboldenment’ Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq.”
The researchers studied data about insurgent attacks and U.S. media coverage up to November, tracking what they called “anti-resolve statements” by U.S. politicians and reports about American public opinion on the war.
“We find that in periods immediately after a spike in anti-resolve statements, the level of insurgent attacks increases,” says the study, published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a leading U.S. nonprofit economic research organization.