Fighting fear: An analytical study of the unintended consequences of post-9/11 counterterrorism policies in the U.S

Date
2016
Authors
Herrera, Bryn
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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to evaluate the effectiveness and unintended consequences of U.S. drone strikes and security assistance as counterterrorism strategies. As billions of dollars per year are spent on global counterterrorism efforts, it is important to recognize what the rates of return for security are. The two strategies of drone strikes and security sector assistance were chosen to compare the results of proactive versus reactive counterterrorism policies. Future research will seek to rigidly apply criteria for gauging success for additional counterterrorism approaches, and contribute to the literature of evidence-based counterterrorism analysis. Using data from U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, and Pentagon-funded security assistance in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, it was found that neither strategy was wholly effective at preventing future attacks or causing militant groups to alter their strategies. Increasing transparency, or implementing structured and meaningful program evaluations might bolster the success rates of such counterterrorism strategies, or at least aid in mitigating the unintended consequences which threaten to undermine their effectiveness.

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Department
Political Science and Geography