Carrots, Sticks And Stones: The Politics Of Naming In Counter-terrorism

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science


Audie Klotz


Counter Terrorism;Foreign Policy;Naming;State Sponsor

Subject Categories

Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


"Carrots, Sticks and Stones: The Politics of Naming in Counter-Terrorism" examines the politics surrounding the U.S. State Department's 'State Sponsors of Terrorism' and the Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) lists. Despite a dubious record of success and enduring doubts about the credibility and efficacy of these instruments, terrorism blacklists abide and are proliferating as part of domestic and international counter-terrorism strategy. The dissertation examines the rationales that guide and sustain the use of terrorism blacklists, despite the criticisms leveled against them. Furthermore, by examining deliberations surrounding contentious cases of listing, non-listing and de-listing, in the cases of Cuba, Pakistan and the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), it examines the understandings of interest and identity amongst policymakers that drive the use of these instruments. I focus particularly on the United States, a policy entrepreneur in this field by examining deliberations surrounding contentious cases on the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST) List and the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list. To conduct this research, I have scrutinized debates in venues such as the U.S. Congress, analyzed key national security texts and interviewed policymakers and experts. The dissertation contributes to ongoing discussions on the efficacy of the counter-terrorism sanctions process and in understanding how 'bad policies' endure. The dissertation emphasizes the role of conceptions of identity in counter-terrorism policy, which I argue provides a fuller picture than accounts that simply focus on calculations of threat. I argue that policymakers have increasingly chosen to eschew the use of the SST in favor of targeted sanctions against entities, thus avoiding the political costs associated with the instrument. Thus, I argue that the SST primarily serves as a heuristic against existing adversaries of the United States rather than a viable instrument in the most pressing cases of state sponsorship of terrorism.


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