Collins, Stephen D.

Dissuading State Support of Terrorism: Strikes or Sanctions? (An Analysis of Dissuasion Measures Employed Against Libya)

Studies in Conflict & Terrorism


This study examines the efficacy of various strategies of dissuading state support for terrorism. Libya represents the principle case study employed to test the impact of military force, unilateral economic sanctions, and multilateral economic sanctions against states which provide support to international terrorist organizations. The frequency of Libyan-supported terrorist attacks declined after the application, in 1986, of U.S. unilateral economic sanctions and military force against the regime of Muammar Qaddafi. However, these measures were unable to reduce the lethality of Libyan-supported terrorism, as the number of individuals killed by Libyan terrorism escalated substantially in the years following American airstrikes and sanctions. After the application of multilateral sanctions in 1992, however, Libya essentially dismantled its terrorist support program. In the decade since the imposition of UN sanctions on Libya, the Qaddafi regime has not been linked to a single attack against Americans. The significant economic and political pressures generated by the broadly multilateral sanctions appear to have induced Libya's departure from the ranks of terrorism sponsors.