March 16, 2015 · Covert Contact Interviews Terrorism

Why Terrorism Fails: A Discussion with Max Abrahms

We know that terrorism succeeds at terrorizing its targets but does it help the groups behind it achieve their political goals? In this episode I’m joined by Northeastern University professor and terrorism theorist Max Abrahms who makes a persuasive case that terrorism does not succeed where other more selective uses of violence might. I made a similar argument in episode 7 when I said that the much discussed (and very barbaric) ISIS social media campaign would ultimately be considered a failure because it had helped permanently undermine any possibility that the group could ever transition to political legitimacy.

You can follow Max on Twitter @MaxAbrahms and read his work at I also recommend reading The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited for a more comprehensive breakdown of Max’s research and arguments on this subject.

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