Games rivals Play: Terrorism in international rivalries

Michael G. Findley, James A. Piazza, Joseph K. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


The quantitative terrorism literature has largely overlooked interstate relations when evaluating predictors of transnational terrorist attacks, opting to focus on state, group, or individual-level factors to explain patterns of terrorism using analytical methods that are limited to either the origin or target of the attack. In this piece we argue that this is both incongruous with the larger conflict literature and limiting in terms of theoretical impact. Transnational terrorism in many cases is more accurately considered a component of conflicting relations between two states generally hostile towards each other, which necessitates an examination of both states. We demonstrate, by conducting a series of statistical analyses using politically relevant directed dyads, that interstate rivalries are reliable positive predictors of transnational terrorism. We find that interstate rivalries explain a great deal of variation in cross-national patterns of terrorism, a result that is robust to different rivalry measures. Application to Pakistani-Indian terrorism further illustrates the cross-national results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-248
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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