When ends Trump means: continuity versus change in US counterterrorism policy

Rubrick Biegon, Tom Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article utilizes a historical materialist informed framework to analyse change and continuity in US counterterrorism policy. Although Donald Trump’s “America First” discourse conveyed a “new” approach to counterterrorism, in practice his administration has largely reinforced pre-existing tendencies, expanding the military campaigns against ISIS and al-Qaeda. In accordance with America’s longstanding objectives in the global south, which centre on stabilizing existing patterns of capitalist political-economic relations, the US continues to police transnational security challenges “from below”. The article calls for increased sensitivity to the means-ends calculus in American statecraft. It argues that tactical shifts at the policy level (the means) should be situated in relation to historical considerations and the structural and material factors (the ends) that impact US foreign policymaking across presidential administrations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Affairs
Issue number1
Early online date5 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2020

Cite this