The study (49 page PDF file) ABSTRACT:
Are insurgents affected by information on US casualty sensitivity? Using data on attacks and variation in access to international news across Iraqi provinces, we identify an “emboldenment” effect by comparing the rate of insurgent attacks in areas with higher and lower access to information about U.S news after public statements critical of the war. We find in periods after a spike in war-critical statements, insurgent attacks increases by 5-10 percent. The results suggest that insurgent groups respond rationally to expected probability of US withdrawal. As such counterinsurgency should consider deterrence and incapacitation rather than simply search and destroy missions.
The study shows a direct correlation between public statements made as well as the medias focus on the negative and the rise in attacks.
The emboldenment perspective might be separated into two distinct sets of arguments about why the perception of low resolve in one period increases insurgent violence in a subsequent period. A “cost sensitivity” argument posits that signals undercutting the perception of U.S. resolve in Iraq are likely to produce greater levels of violence if insurgents perceive that increasing the costs of the U.S. presence will induce withdrawal - that is, if the United States appears to be responsive to the costs imposed by the insurgents in the form of higher attacks.
The study goes on to say that in the periods immediately after "anti-resolve" (cut and run) speeches are given, the level of insurgent attacks increases 7 to 10 percent.
These results suggest, first, that there is a small but measurable cost to open public debate in the form of higher attacks in the short-term, and, second, that insurgent organizations - even those motivated by religious or ideological goals - are strategic actors.
Read the whole report.
The enemies watch the media, they watch the high level politicians and they listen to what is said publicly and they use it against us, which was shown, in the terrorists own words back in 2006.
Osama Bin Laden: Al-Qaeda Intends To Launch "A Media Campaign ... To Create A Wedge Between The American People And Their Government." (Letter From Osama Bin Laden To Mullah Omar, Released By The White House Press Office, 9/5/06)
Bin Laden: This Media Campaign Will Stress "That [The American] Government Would Bring Them More Losses, In Finances And In Casualties." (Letter From Osama Bin Laden To Mullah Omar, Released By The White House Press Office, 9/5/06)
Bin Laden: "[The American People] Are Being Sacrificed To Serve The Big Investors, Especially The Jews." (Letter From Osama Bin Laden To Mullah Omar, Released By The White House Press Office, 9/5/06)
Questioning strategies and and showing attention to what is going on is not the problem, the problem is the complete irresponsibility of people like Harry Reid with his famous "Iraq is lost" comment, or Nancy Pelosi when she continues her mantra of Iraq is a failure, even when we are seeing great success and progress from the Iraqis, or Hilary Clinton when she tells General Petreaus that she it takes a "winning suspension of disbelief" to believe what he says, which now has been proven true, yet she never apologized for her careless, reckless comments.
The examples go on and on... there is a difference between legitimate questions on strategy and deliberately emboldening the enemy and causing a higher level of attacks, especially when it is done as a political game for these politicians.
(H/T to Samantha)