The Afghanistan-Pakistan Wars 2008–2009: Micro-geographies, Conflict Diffusion, and Clusters of Violence
John O'Loughlin, Frank Witmer, and Andrew Linke
Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2010, 51 No.4, pp.437-71.
A team of political geographers analyzes over 5,000 violent events collected from
media reports for the Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts during 2008 and 2009. The violent
events are geocoded to precise locations and the authors employ an exploratory spatial data
analysis approach to examine the recent dynamics of the wars. By mapping the violence and
examining its temporal dimensions, the authors explain its diffusion from traditional foci along
the border between the two countries. While violence is still overwhelmingly concentrated in
the Pashtun regions in both countries, recent policy shifts by the American and Pakistani governments
in the conduct of the war are reflected in a sizeable increase in overall violence and
its geographic spread to key cities. The authors identify and map the clusters (hotspots) of conflict
where the violence is significantly higher than expected and examine their shifts over the
two-year period. Special attention is paid to the targeting strategy of drone missile strikes and
the increase in their number and geographic extent by the Obama administration.
Peering into the Fog of War: The Geography of the WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Logs 2004-2009
John O'Loughlin, Frank Witmer, Andrew Linke, and Nancy Thorwardson
Eurasian Geography and Economics, 2010, 51 No.4, pp.472-95.
A team of U.S. political geographers analyzes the secret Afghanistan war logs
by WikiLeaks.org. They offer the chance to examine in detail the dynamics of the
conflict in that country. Doing so in a spatial framework is possible because each of the 77,000
events has geographic coordinates and dates. Using cartographic and geostatistical tools, the
authors map the changing distribution of the events and compare them to the well-known
violent-events ACLED database (see O’Loughlin et al., 2010 in this issue). They conclude
that ACLED comprises a representative set of the more comprehensive data in the released
files. The released war logs show that the Afghan insurgency spread rapidly in 2008–2009,
that the insurgency is moving out of its traditional Pashtun heartlands, and remains mostly
rural in location. Hotspot and cluster analysis identifies the key locations of the current war,
which indicate that it is relocating to new provinces in Afghanistan while intensifying in the
eastern border regions and in the south.