I wonder if they can tell if this means the war is lost, or if they will be able to defeat the insurgents by manipulating this 'law of terrorism'.ABSTRACT
We report a remarkable universality in the patterns of violence arising in three highprofile ongoing wars, and in global terrorism. Our results suggest that these quite different conflict arenas currently feature a common type of enemy, i.e. the various insurgent forces are beginning to operate in a similar way regardless of their underlying ideologies, motivations and the terrain in which they operate. We provide a microscopic theory to explain our main observations. This theory treats the insurgent force as a generic, self-organizing system which is dynamically evolving through the continual coalescence and fragmentation of its constituent groups.
These are the only rules of the model, and they turn out to work just fine. After the population is allowed to evolve for a long time, the result is a power law distribution of group sizes with an exponent of exactly –5/2. Since group size is proportional to attack strength, this distribution also predicts the frequency of attacks causing a given number of fatalities. It is also interesting that the result of this model depends only on the probability of fragmentation. As long as this probability is reasonably small, the distribution of attacking groups will settle into a steady state with a power law distribution.
Is this new ‘Law of Terrorism’ really universal? “Power law patterns will emerge within any modern asymmetric war being fought by loosely organized insurgent groups.” Johnson speculates, “Although future wars will provide the ultimate test.” J