Mar 24, 2008 2:43 pm


We all know it to be so. Now a Harvard study proves it:

Researchers at Harvard say that publicly voiced doubts about the U.S. occupation of Iraq have a measurable"emboldenment effect" on insurgents there.

Periods of intense news media coverage in the United States of criticism about the war, or of polling about public opinion on the conflict, are followed by a small but quantifiable increases in the number of attacks on civilians and U.S. forces in Iraq, according to a study by Radha Iyengar, a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in health policy research at Harvard and Jonathan Monten of the Belfer Center at the university's Kennedy School of Government.

The increase in attacks is more pronounced in areas of Iraq that have better access to international news media, the authors conclude in a report titled"Is There an 'Emboldenment' Effect? Evidence from the Insurgency in Iraq." The researchers studied data about insurgent attacks and U.S. media coverage up to November, tracking what they called"anti-resolve statements" by U.S. politicians and reports about American public opinion on the war."We find that in periods immediately after a spike in anti-resolve statements, the level of insurgent attacks increases," says the study, published earlier this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a leading U.S. nonprofit economic research organization.

In Iraqi provinces that were broadly comparable in social and economic terms, attacks increased between 7 percent and 10 percent following what the researchers call"high-mention weeks," like the two just before the November 2006 election. . . .

The study also found that attacks increased more in parts of Iraq like Anbar province, where there is greater access to international news media, measured by the proportion of households with satellite TV, which its authors say increases the credibility of their findings.

The researchers conclude that the increases in attacks are a necessary cost of the way democratic societies fight wars and say they are concerned that the research may be seized upon by the Iraq war's supporters to try and silence its critics.

"We are a little bit worried about that," Mr. Monten said in an interview."Our data suggests that there is a small, but measurable cost" to"anything that provides information about attitudes towards the war."

May I just remind everyone that"small, but measurable cost" means American and Iraqi dead. Nor should this study be considered in isolation. What is true in Iraq, is true in Israel, Sri Lanka and Britain. In other words, not only the US media, but media world wide have terror victims blood on its hands. Denial is no longer possible.

Moreover, the same can be said about presidential candidates. Note the rise in attacks before the November 2006 elections as well as the recent pre-election rise. Obama and Clinton should not be permitted to ignore the fact that careless comments will cost the lives of American soldiers.

See the full report here

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