Max Abrahms


Dr. Max Abrahms is an assistant professor of public policy in the department of political science. He researches and teaches on asymmetric conflict and international relations theory. His work on asymmetric conflict focuses on the study of civil war, insurgency, nonviolent protest, and terrorism. He is a frequent terrorism analyst in the media, especially on the consequences of terrorism, its motives, and the implications for counterterrorism strategy. His work in international relations theory focuses on the concepts of coercion, perception, misperception, rationality, and signaling in the international system. Abrahms is an active term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Previous Fellowships

Johns Hopkins University, Department of Political Science, 2011-2013
Princeton and Stanford Universities, Empirical Studies of Conflict, 2010-2011
Dartmouth College, Dickey Center for International Understanding, 2010-2011
Stanford University, Center for International Security and Cooperation, 2008-2010
West Point Military Academy, Combating Terrorism Center, 2009
Tel Aviv University, Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2004
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2003-2004

Selected Publications

“The Credibility Paradox: Violence as a Double-Edged Sword in International Politics,” International Studies Quarterly (December 2013).

“The Political Effectiveness of Non-State Violence: A Two-Level Framework to Transform a Deceptive Debate,” H-Diplo/ISSF Response to Peter Krause (July 2013).

“Bottom of the Barrel: Today’s Terrorists Aren’t Sophisticated,” Foreign Policy (April 2013).

“Few Bad Men: Why America Doesn’t Really Have a Terrorism Problem,” Foreign Policy (April 2013).

“The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited,” Comparative Political Studies (March 2012).

“Does Terrorism Really Work? Evolution in the Conventional Wisdom since 9/11,” Defence and Peace Economics (December 2011).

“What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy,” International Security, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Spring 2008).

[Reprinted in Patrick H. O’Neil and Ronald Rogowski, eds., Essential Readings in Comparative Politics, 4th ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012); and

“Why Democracies Make Superior Counterterrorists,” Security Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring 2007).

“Why Terrorism Does Not Work,” International Security, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Fall 2006).

[Reprinted in Jack Snyder and Karen Mingst, eds., Essential Readings in World Politics, 3rd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2007)].

“Al-Qaeda’s Scorecard: A Progress Report on Al-Qaeda’s Objectives,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 29, No. 5 (July-August 2006).

Media Coverage

ABC News, Al-Arabiyya, Al-Hurra, Al-Jazeera, Atlantic Monthly, Baltimore Sun, BBC, Boston Globe, CBS Evening News, Chicago Tribune, Chronicle of Higher Education, CNBC, CNN, CNN Financial, Foreign Policy, Epoch Times, Foreign Policy, Fox News, Gulf News, H-Diplo, Huffington Post, Huffpost Live, Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem Report, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, PBS, Radio Free Europe, Radio Sawa, Roll Call, RT, Sky TV, Slate, Voice of America, Wall Street Journal, Washington Times, Wired