Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Jon Shefner

Committee Members

Asafa Jalata, Lois Presser


The United States presently focuses much of its energy on the prevention of terrorism through particular counterterrorism policies and strategies. Today, deterrence is the primary theoretical basis for counterterrorism policies. If the United States invests so heavily in deterrence as a counterterrorism strategy, is it successful? If not, what are its theoretical flaws? Who is best served by efforts to prevent terrorism through a deterrent project?

This thesis will argue that a more appropriate understanding of terrorism is necessary. In order to achieve a more holistic conception of the terrorism problem, efforts should be made politically and theoretically to incorporate international relationships that include politics, economics and culture. Such an approach to understanding terrorism as a collective action that is related to various social structures is not facilitated within the 4 present theoretical application of deterrence to counterterrorism. Therefore, this thesis is a political and economic approach to understanding the relationship between theories of terrorism and strategies of counterterrorism. If deterrence is not the most appropriate way of addressing terrorism, then the first step to creating alternative strategies is to analyze the deterrence policies currently in place. Therefore, this thesis is a stepping stone to moving past present conceptions of how to address terrorism; in order to critique U.S. counterterrorism strategy and understand why deterrence is employed as a strategy so that we can create more suitable counterterrorism strategies.

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