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Date Submitted

Spring 4-16-2015

Research Mentor and Department

Anika Walke

Restricted/Unrestricted

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Department of International and Area Studies

The Global Wars on Terror:

A Comparison of the United States’ and Russian Federation’s Counterterrorism Policies

Margaret Bavlsik

Mentor: Dr. Anika Walke

This thesis compares the sources identified as “terrorist” threats by the United States and the Russian Federation, and the two states’ counterterrorist responses to al Qaeda and the Chechen nationalist separatists, respectively. Focusing on the time period between 1990 and 2010, this comparison focuses on the question of why the two nations apply very similar counterterrorist policies to two radically different sources of “terror.” While al Qaeda is a transnational organization with the goal to reestablish an Islamic caliphate, the Chechen nationalist separatists are a localized loose movement of like-minded warlords attempting to achieve national independence. Despite these differences, both the Russian Federation and United States reacted with policies that consolidated power around the executive and prompted extensive military campaigns waged against the “terrorist” threats. This thesis also discusses the role of the “war on terror” narrative for both nations’ increased executive power, as well as the broader implications of society.

The interdisciplinary thesis relies on relevant scholarship, policy analyses, as well as statements by intelligence officers, government officials, and journalists. Russian and U.S. government documents, such as legislation and press releases, and news sources from both countries constituted the majority of primary sources. Statements released by al Qaeda and the Chechen separatists were also examined.

While much scholarly work has been done to examine the U.S. and Russian Federation’s counterterrorist policies as well as their respective “terrorist” threats, this thesis suggests demonstrates the similar policies carried out by the two nations oversimplify the nature of the terrorist threats and focus on a problematic and short-term counterterrorist solution with troubling implications on a global perspective.