New Book Explores “The Domestic Politics of Terrorism”

Derick Hulme, Arthur L. Russell professor of political science at Alma College, explores the effects of terrorism and how the Clinton Administration tried to exploit them in his latest book, The Domestic Politics of Terrorism: Lessons from the Clinton Administration.

“It’s about trying to figure out, during the Clinton years, the methods and approaches that Clinton used to try to exploit terrorism for domestic political advantage,” said Hulme.

Hulme has an interest in terrorism and has researched the topic in the past. He began working on this project approximately nine years ago, but he previously wrote the book Palestinian Terrorism and US Foreign Policy, 1969-1977, published by Edwin Mellen Press, which examined the relationship between Palestinian terrorism and United States foreign policy.

His latest project focuses on the period after the fall of the Soviet Union, but prior to the 9/11 attacks.

“The purpose in writing this was to try and make a contribution to areas of scholarship that have been largely ignored and people hadn’t been paying attention to—both the time period 1990s, and the whole notion of how exactly terrorism can be not just a negative, but can, in fact, be very positive for political leaders,” said Hulme.

Hulme explores a number of high profile terrorist events, including the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993, the federal office building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and the African Embassy in 1998. Hulme discusses how these events, and Clinton’s responses to them, affected his reelection in 1996.

“It’s just very interesting to see how he uses these terrorist events for political advantage,” said Hulme. “In a way, he learns how to do that after he fails to do so in 1993 with the first World Trade Center bombing, which happened six weeks after he comes into office, while he’s a new president.”

Hulme conducted some of his research using primary documents available at the William J. Clinton Library in Arkansas. He notes that the type of available material has grown over time to include emails and other digital communication.

“The nature of the material is just different, and now you have so much in the way of potential information. Figuring out the where the most relevant material is, and making sense of it, becomes more challenging.”

The Domestic Politics of Terrorism: Lessons from the Clinton Administration was published by Lexington Books Dec. 19, 2019.

Story published on February 20, 2020