Is the Phone Mightier than the Sword? Cell Phones and Insurgent Violence in Iraq
PRINCETON UNIV NJ WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
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Does improved communication as provided by modern cell phone technology affect the production of violence during insurgencies A priori predictions are ambiguous. Introducing cell phones can enhance insurgent communications, but it can also make it easier for the population to share information with counterinsurgents, and it creates passive signals intelligence collection opportunities. We provide the first systematic test of the effect of cell phone communications on conflict using data on Iraqs cell phone network and event data on violence. We show that increased mobile communications reduced insurgent violence in Iraq, both at the district level and for specific local coverage areas. The results provide support for models of insurgency that focus on the provision of information by noncombatants as the key constraint on violent groups. They also show that small changes in the transaction costs of cooperating with the government can have large macro effects on conflict.
- Military Intelligence
- Unconventional Warfare
- Radio Communications