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An introduction of the concept of organizational and criminal violence. Using an example from The Godfather, the idea of identity-categories that separate crime, insurgency, and terrorism are introduced. The ideas of economics and behavioral science are introduced as new frameworks through which to view violence.
An introduction of the field of economics and its place as a framework to understand human behavior. This overview is used to explore the ideas of violence, kinship, radicalization, entity, and organizing structures in communities.
An exploration of insurgency through the frameworks offered by a case study on Joseph Kony’s life and the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda. By understanding Kony’s life, motivations, and the operation of the LRA as an insurgency, we see how understanding human behavior and the logic of violence through an economic lens offers more insight to a solution than a rote labeling of Kony as an insurgent. The chapter also examines the operation of the Cosa Nostra to emphasize these points.
Applying the lessons learned from the previous chapters, this chapter explores how defining ISIS as a “terrorist organization” without understanding the underlying behavioral and economic dynamics of violence is damaging to national security and the policy response to ISIS.
An exploration of organized violence through the frameworks offered by a case study on Pablo Escobar and the drug trade in Colombia. By understanding Escobar’s life, motivations, and the operation of the drug cartel as organized violence, we see how understanding human behavior and the logic of violence through an economic lens offers more insight to a solution than a rote labeling Escobar as a criminal.
An exploration of terrorism through the frameworks offered by a case study on Osama bin Laden’s life and al Qaeda. By understanding bin Laden’s life, motivations, and the operation of al Qaeda as a terrorist organization, we see how understanding human behavior and the logic of violence through an economic lens offers more insight to a solution than a rote labeling of bin Laden, and his followers, as terrorists.
During the first year of my transition from military service to staffing US Senate leaders on Capitol Hill, I began working on how to counter acts of terrorism. The year was 1996, and I had served on active duty as a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy since 1988. I understood important military concepts such as the capabilities of various Russian-made weapons systems and the impact of Tomahawk cruise missile technology on air superiority. Still, my experience did not help me comprehend how to tackle suicide terrorism.
How do we understand illicit violence? Can we prevent it? Building on behavioral science and economics, this book begins with the idea that humans are more predictable than we like to believe, and this ability to model human behavior applies equally well to leaders of violent and coercive organizations as it does to everyday people. Humans ultimately seek survival for themselves and their communities in a world of competition. While the dynamics of 'us vs. them' are divisive, they also help us to survive. Access to increasingly larger markets, facilitated through digital communications and social media, creates more transnational opportunities for deception, coercion, and violence. If the economist's perspective helps to explain violence, then it must also facilitate insights into promoting peace and security. If we can approach violence as behavioral scientists, then we can also better structure our institutions to create policies that make the world a more secure place, for us and for future generations.
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