Analytic Models and Policy Prescription: Understanding Recent Innovation in U.S. Counterterrorism


Thus there is a discrepancy between the expectation of specialists on terrorism and the policy outcome of the U.S. domestic preparedness program. The most common explanation for such a discrepancy is that policymakers are behaving illogically, either out of ignorance or because they harbor ulterior motives (i.e., personal or institutional interests). Explanations of this sort are particularly favored by terrorism specialists. In this paper I argue that there is another explanation for the discrepancy: The policy outcome resulted from a mode of analysis that the substantive specialists do not perform. Put differently and more generally, a policy prescription that is illogical according to one analytic model of a problem may be perfectly logical according to another. The substantive experts on terrorism adhere to an analytic model known as, for lack of a better term "terrorism studies". Its hallmark is a focus on the practice and especially the practitioners of terrorism. In social–psychological terms, terrorism studies is an internal approach to prediction because it focuses on the constituents of the specific problem rather than on the broad distribution of possible outcomes. Thus, using terrorism studies as one's analytical model, it is hard to find a rational explanation for the origin of the U.S. domestic preparedness program.