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US Counter-Terrorism Strategy and al-Qaeda: Signalling and the Terrorist World-View (Contemporary Security Studies) [Hardcover]

by Joshua A. Geltzer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

October 15, 2009 041555232X 978-0415552325 1

This book examines the communicative aspects and implications of US counter-terrorist policies towards al-Qaeda.

Recent US counter-terrorist strategy has been largely based upon projecting certain perceptions of America as an actor to those drawn to al-Qaeda, and this book investigates in what ways, and to what extent, US officials believed that the signals sent by what America did and said could influence the behaviour of the terrorist and would-be terrorist. The study then draws on a growing understanding of that audience to analyse how those drawn to al-Qaeda were and, indeed, still are likely to be influenced by the perceptions of America that Washington's policies generated. The study's central argument is that, given al-Qaeda's unconventional strategy and the particularities of the world-view characterising those drawn to the group, America's counter-terrorist signalling proved largely counter-productive to America's objective of undermining al-Qaeda's strategic narrative, instead serving in many ways to validate it.

Firstly, this book seeks to reveal the significant and largely unexplored role that signalling has played in US counter-terrorist policy towards al-Qaeda. Second, it tries to capture the objectives, strategy, tactics, ideology, and other defining features of the world-view characterising those drawn to al-Qaeda. Third, it strives to combine those two lines of inquiry by applying the al-Qaeda world-view to a critical analysis of the signals sent by US policies. Finally, the book aims to offer broad policy implications that demonstrate how an informed understanding of the world-view of those drawn to al-Qaeda can be employed to revise and refine American counter-terrorist signalling.

This book will be of much interest to students of US foreign policy and public diplomacy, counter-terrorism, strategy and international security.

Joshua Alexander Geltzer has a PhD in War Studies from Kings College London, and is currently a juris doctoral student at Yale Law School.

Editorial Reviews


" a breath-catching take on the problem of unexamined, ineffective, domestic-driven American signaling to terrorists, whether of the nascent Obama or entrenched Cheney type, Geltzer's work is very impressive." -- Steve Coll, The New Yorker

"Joshua Alexander Geltzer provides the tools, narrative, and proper framing to better understand the dynamics of U.S. counterrerrorism signalling, even as he sheds some practical light on al-Qaeda's worldview." - Christopher P. Costa, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 23, 1, December 2010

About the Author

Joshua Alexander Geltzer has a PhD in War Studies from Kings College London, and is currently a juris doctoral student at Yale Law School.

Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary Security Studies
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 041555232X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415552325
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,189,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joshua Alexander Geltzer received his Ph.D. in War Studies from King's College London, where his research analyzed al-Qaeda and American counter-terrorist strategy. Previous publications on al-Qaeda include "The Non-Kinetic Aspects of Kinetic Efforts," in Influence Warfare: How Terrorists and Governments Fight to Shape Perceptions in a War of Ideas, edited by James Forest, and "Six Rather Unexplored Assumptions About al-Qaeda," in Critical Studies on Terrorism. Before attending King's College, Dr. Geltzer studied in Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he received the Myron Herrick Prize for the Most Outstanding Senior Thesis. He graduated from Princeton summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, and received the 1939 Princeton Scholar Award for the Senior with the Highest Academic Standing. After studying at King's, he received a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Yale Law Journal. He is currently a law clerk to the Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and enlightening July 15, 2010
By Gustav
I've read several books on U.S. counter-terrorism strategy, and I was impressed with Mr. Geltzer's take on the situation. I found his insights into the way Al Qaeda can perceive public U.S. statements to be very nuanced and well-argued. It made me think about the progression of events in the last eight-plus years in a different light, which I think is a great compliment to the author. I would recommend this book to public policy experts, administration strategists, students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and of course to any person interest in the War on Terror and the future of the fight against Al Qaeda.
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