Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Vaughn Shannon (Committee Chair); Liam Anderson (Committee Member); Pramod Kantha (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


In the following research, I investigate whether hard offensive counterterrorism results in the failure or success of a counterterrorism strategy. In the second chapter, the academic literature of counterterrorism strategies is examined. Next, a hypothesis is put forth that if a hard offensive counterterrorism strategy is utilized, indicators such as high troop levels, more civilian casualties, more negative public opinion, and an increased rate of terrorism, will point to a failed counterterrorism strategy. Then, I put forth a methodology to test the hypothesis while introducing troop level databases, various public opinion polling sources, and terrorist attack databases to investigate the given variables. In the third chapter, a case study of the Iraq War is utilized, in which the initial invasion from 2003-2006 and the Surge/Withdrawal eras from 2007-2011 are examined. Both time periods are compared to see if hard offensive counterterrorism used in 2003-2006 resulted in a less effective counterterrorism campaign than the softer counterinsurgency strategies from 2007-2011. Data from the Brookings Iraq Index, Iraq Body Count, and Global Terrorism Database are then analyzed to investigate the variables of casualties, public opinion, and rate of terrorism during each era in Iraq. In the fourth chapter, the war in Afghanistan is presented as a case study. I then evaluate whether hard offensive counterterrorism used from 2001-2008 resulted in less terrorism than the counterinsurgency strategies of Surge and withdrawal used from 2009-2016. Data from the Congressional Research Service, UNAMA, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the BBC, the Asia Foundation, and the Global Terrorism Database are then utilized to assess each variable. Finally, I present my findings and conclude that evaluating a strategy primarily using hard offensive counterterrorism strategies is rather complex and then present ideas for future research in counterterrorism strategy.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.