Donald Trump’s War on Terror

September 2019 9781787381896 160pp


Donald Trump promised to defeat terrorism, but there is no easy way to make sense of his war on terror. Is it a genuine strategic shift from previous administrations? Or is it all bluster, a way to score points with his base?

Hamstrung by his administration’s weakness, Trump hasn’t actually changed much about counterterrorism. What is different is the ideological agenda—excessively militaristic and short-sighted. Foreign alliances have deteriorated, right-wing extremists feel emboldened, and the US no longer seems like a multi-cultural haven. So what is it all for?

Peter Neumann compellingly argues that Trump’s war on terror looks strong and powerful in the short term, but will cause damage over time. His self-serving approach has failed on its own terms, made the world less safe, and undermined the US’ greatest asset—the very idea of America.


‘A sharp chronicle of the [Trump] administration’s cynical and disorganised counter-terrorism programme.’ Survival

‘Bluster is meticulously researched, concisely organised and easy to read … an admirable review of the Trump administration’s counterterrorism strategy.’  LSE Review of Books

‘This calm and accessible book from a noted academic gives a well-organised account of Trump’s damaging approach. I warmly commend it for its structured and well-argued analysis.’  Methodist Recorder

‘Refreshingly forthright. … [Bluster is] a devastating attack on US President Donald Trump and his new friend, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’.— Middle East Eye

‘Lots of angry instincts, no coherent strategy that is Peter Neumann’s damning verdict on a Trump administration that has shamed America while making us all less safe against the very real threat of terrorism.’ David Frum, columnist for Atlantic, former White House speechwriter, and author of ‘Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic’

‘Neumann is one of the world’s top terrorism experts. Bluster is an excellent assessment of how American counterterrorism has changed under Trump, and perhaps more importantly, how it has not.’ Daniel Byman, Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and author of A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism

‘In this cool and careful analysis, Neumann explores the tangible difference that Trump’s inflammatory and blustering rhetoric has made to American efforts to counter-terrorism.’ — Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King’s College London and author of The Future of War: A History

‘An impressively well-reasoned and well-documented critique of the rhetoric and reality of the Trump Administration’s approach to counterterrorism at home and abroad.  Trump vociferously rejected his predecessors, but much has remained the same and what has changed has made Americans less safe.’ — Martha Crenshaw, Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Emerita, Stanford University, and Professor of Government, Emerita, at Wesleyan University

‘In this important book, Neumann argues that Donald Trump has undermined counterterrorism efforts by conflating terrorism with immigration and emboldening the far right at home while torching the United States’ soft power around the world. A timely, persuasive, and utterly devastating critique of Trump’s role in America’s longest war.’ — Erica Chenoweth, Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard University


Peter R. Neumann is Professor of Security Studies at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, and was founding director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, 2008–18. He was previously adjunct professor at Georgetown University. His most recent book is Radicalized: New Jihadists and the Threat to the West.

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