Guilt by Association: United States Ties and Vulnerability to Transnational Terrorist Attacks



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Do nations' allies and trading partners affect their vulnerability to transnational terrorist attacks? Prior research has focused on how the attributes of individual nations, such as regime type, economic stability, and international power, affect their likelihood of being the target of transnational terrorist attacks. However, prior research has not addressed the impact of a nation's economic and foreign policy ties on this phenomenon. Specifically, the question I ask is whether terrorists attempt to indirectly affect the status quo policy stance of a powerful nation by attacking the allies and trading partners of that nation. I develop a theoretical framework to explain why terrorists are likely to target allies of powerful nations in the international arena to force the more powerful nation to change its policy stance. Focusing on the United States, I examine how a nation's economic and foreign policy ties to the U.S. affect its vulnerability to transnational terrorist attacks. I test my expectations using the ITERATE database of transnational terrorist events from 1968 to 2000. The results suggest that a nation's economic and foreign policy ties may have a significant impact on its vulnerability to transnational terrorism.