Faculty & Research Honor Among Thieves: Understanding Rhetorical and Material Cooperation Among Violent Nonstate Actors Apr 20, 2021 By Philip PotterChristopher W. BlairErica ChenowethMichael C. HorowitzEvan Perkoski Honor Among Thieves: Understanding Rhetorical and Material Cooperation Among Violent Nonstate Actors Cooperation among militant organizations contributes to capability but also presents security risks. This is particularly the case when organizations face substantial repression from the state. As a consequence, for cooperation to emerge and persist when it is most valuable, militant groups must have means of committing to cooperation even when the incentives to defect are high. We posit that shared ideology plays this role by providing community monitoring, authority structures, trust, and transnational networks. We test this theory using new, expansive, time-series data on relationships between militant organizations from 1950 to 2016, which we introduce here. We find that when groups share an ideology, and especially a religion, they are more likely to sustain material cooperation in the face of state repression. These findings contextualize and expand upon research demonstrating that connections between violent nonstate actors strongly shape their tactical and strategic behavior. Link to Article Areas of focus National Security International and Global Affairs UVA partners National Security Policy Center Philip Potter Philip Potter is a professor of politics and Founding Director of the National Security Policy Center at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. He is also a University Expert with the National Ground Intelligence Center, US Army INSCOM. He has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Politics and the Journal of Global Security Studies and is an Associate Principal Investigator for Time-Sharing Experiments in the Social Sciences (TESS). Read full bio Christopher W. Blair Erica Chenoweth Michael C. Horowitz Evan Perkoski Related Content Philip Potter Batten Professors Discuss Escalation of Conflict in Ukraine News Batten School professors Philip Potter and Allan Stam note that the conflict in Ukraine has bolstered the NATO alliance, which may give China pause if it’s thinking of moving on Taiwan. Space Norms and U.S. National Security: Leading on Space Debris News In a new article for the online national security magazine War on the Rocks, Batten's Philip Potter, George W. Foresman and University of Pennsylvania's Michael Horowitz write that, given the rapid change of pace and recent developments in space, technical and operational standards and norms of behavior will be necessary to maintain a secure and sustainable domain.