Is there an After After 9/11

The Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies is pleased to announce the workshop: “Is there an After After 9/11: Terrorism threats, challenges and responses.” This event will feature researchers from around the world, discussing the future of terrorism studies.

Presenter Biographies and Abstracts

Michael Stohl

Professor of Communication, Political Science and Global Studies, Director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB

Dr. Stohl’s research focuses on organizational and political communication with special reference to terrorism, human rights and global relations. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 16 books and more than 100 scholarly journal articles and book chapters.  Dr. Stohl has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the International Communication Association Applied/Public Policy Research Award for career work on State Terrorism and Human Rights in 2011 and the International Communication Association 2008 Outstanding Article Award for Stohl, C. and Stohl, M. 2007, “Networks of Terror: Theoretical Assumptions and Pragmatic Consequences” Communication Theory 47,2: 93-124

There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence – a noun, a verb, and 9/11

In the years since September 11, 2001 pundits, politicians and scholars of terrorism and international relations routinely have declared that 9/11 “changed everything.”  As the years have passed it is also implied by these declarations that what was changed was immutable. .In this paper we will first explore how those decisions transformed the United States and global response to terrorism but also how to paraphrase then candidate Joseph Biden’s critique of former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani, so much of the global political debate about terrorism, and national security has been characterized by reference to 9/11 accompanied by a noun and a verb.

Richard Falk

Albert G. Professor of International Law and Practice Emeritus at Princeton, where he was a member of the faculty for 40 years, and Research Professor and Fellow of the Orfalea Center at UCSB

The author or editor of more than fifty books, including Revolutionaries and Functionaries: The Dual Face of Terrorism (1988) and The Great Terror War (2003), Professor Falk was the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestine for the United Nations Human Rights Council (2008-2014) and an appointed expert advisor to the President of the UN General Assembly (2008-2009). From 2004-2012, he served as Chair of the Board for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is a member of the editorial boards for The Nation and The Progressive magazines, is an Honorary Editor of the American Journal of International Law, and a member of the international advisory editorial boards of Third World Quarterly and Globalizations. Since 2012, he has been an Honorary Fellow of the International State Crime Initiative located in London.

Exploring concepts, norms and policies in the post-9/11 world order

The 9/11 attacks and the U.S. responses have had profoundly unsettling impacts on territorial boundaries, national sovereignty, international law, counterterrorist tactics and strategy in relation to the statics and dynamics of Westphalian world order.  My presentation and paper will explore some of the resulting tensions in conceptualizing terrorism, constructing regulatory norms, and assessing the ethics and effectiveness of responses. The most basic question raised is whether a state-centric structure of world order can accommodate transnational non-state terrorism and counterterrorism given the scale and nature of the 9/11 attacks and the post-9/11 responses.

Richard English

Professor of Politics at Queen’s University Belfast

Richard English is Professor of Politics at Queen’s University Belfast, where he is also Distinguished Professorial Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice. Professor English’s research focuses on the politics and history of nationalism, political violence, and terrorism, with a particular focus on Ireland and Britain.  His books include Does Terrorism Work? A History (OUP, 2016), Modern War: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2013), Terrorism: How to Respond (OUP, 2009), Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland (Pan Macmillan, 2006), Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Pan Macmillan, 2003), Ernie O’Malley: IRA Intellectual (OUP, 1998), and Radicals and the Republic: Socialist Republicanism in the Irish Free State 1925-1937 (OUP, 1994). He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, an Honorary Fellow of Keble College Oxford, and an Honorary Professor at the University of St Andrews.

Change and Continuity Across the 9/11 Fault Line: Known Knowns and the 21st-Century Response to Terrorism

Much changed because of 9/11.  Terrorism became an utterly different kind of priority for the United States, and this partly recast international politics – in Afghanistan and Iraq, obviously, but far beyond that in international relations more widely.  The response to 9/11 was also one of the factors in the complex journey of jihadism from al-Qaida to ISIS, and that too has to be recognized. But much also remained the same.  The level of actual threat from terrorism to most western states remained and remains very low. And the best ways of actually containing that threat (learning to live with it, avoiding over-militarization, identifying and addressing root causes, working within established legal frameworks, prioritizing high-grade intelligence, coordinating the activities of counter-terrorist actors, and maintaining strong credibility in counter-terrorist public argument) have remained consistent across the 9/11 fault line. Deeper recognition of this reality would have helped to avert some of the most significant and counter-productive counter-terrorist errors of the years since 2001.  And such approaches – just as relevant after 9/11 as before it – provide the strongest means of limiting the threat posed by non-state terrorism in the twenty-first century.

Threats of violence

Victor Asal

Professor of Political Science University at Albany, State University of New York

Victor Asal currently serves as Chair of the Department of Public Administration and an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at SUNY Albany. He received his PhD from the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also, along with R. Karl Rethemeyer, the co-director of the Project on Violent Conflict.  Dr. Asal is affiliated with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. Dr. Asal’s research focuses on the choice of violence by non-state organizational actors, as well as the causes of political discrimination by states against different groups such as sexual minorities, women and ethnic groups. In addition, Prof. Asal has done research on the impact of nuclear proliferation and on the pedagogy of simulations.  Asal has been involved in research projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, The Department of Homeland Security, The National Science Foundation, and The Office of Naval Research.

Did 9/11 Change the Intensity and Spread of Terrorism

– By Nakissa Jahanbani, Charmaine Willis, and Victor Asal

September 11th had a monumental impact on world politics globally and particularly in the Middle East and the United States. The term terrorism today seems to be synonymous with Islamist terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS.  This was not true before 9/11. We seek to answer: did September 11th change the amount and spread of terrorism cross nationally?  In this paper, we quantitatively examine the differences and similarities of terrorist activity globally in the time periods before and after 9/11 (1994-2000 and 2001 to 2010, respectively). By comparing these time periods, we will see how the factors that impact terrorism may or may not have influenced the magnitude of transnational terrorism over time.

Lella Nouri

Lecturer in Criminology, Swansea University, Wales

Dr. Lella Nouri is a Lecturer of Criminology at Swansea University, specializing in terrorist use of the internet. Nouri’s background is interdisciplinary in nature; she studied for her PhD in Politics and her MA in International Relations. Lella’s recent research has focused on the growing use of the internet by far-right extremist groups; currently she is leading an interdisciplinary team examining extreme far-right groups’ usage and influence on popular social media sites. She is also part of the University’s multidisciplinary cyberterrorism research project.  From January-June 2018 she will be a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the Orfalea Center at UCSB.

Exploring the extreme right on social media: an interdisciplinary and industry collaboration

Social media plays a key role in the spreading of radical and extremist ideas. Despite a wealth of research on the spread and influence of Jihadist content, there is limited existing work related to the extreme right. These groups have been known to engage in violent extremism and their violent activities are increasing. For these groups, gaining a strong online presence has become increasingly important. This presentation showcases the findings of a pilot project, which has been conducted in collaboration with a social media analytics company ‘Blurrt’, which has captured detailed information on the conversation and engagement of multiple groups across the US, Australia and the UK on Facebook and Twitter. Using a corpus linguistics method (CADS, Corpus Assisted Discourse Studies), the project has analysed the language of the messages revealing the processes by which propaganda are released, disseminated and spread on social media. And, how different platforms are used to achieve different goals, with a focus on how similar or different the discoursive strategies adopted by the groups are. This presentation will focus on revealing significant key findings about the language adopted in tweets and posts and what this tells us about how these groups are using the respective social media sites.

Neil Narang

Assistant Professor of Political Science, UCSB

Neil Narang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2015-2016, he served as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Policy on a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow. His research primarily focuses on international security, conflict management and peacebuilding, and the relationship between international institutions and conflict. He is the editor of the book Nuclear Posture and Nonproliferation Policy: Causes and Consequences for the Spread of Nuclear Weapons, and his articles have appeared in the Journal of Politics, International Studies Quarterly, Journal of Conflict Resolution among others.

He received his PhD in Political Science from UCSD and he holds a BA in Molecular Cell Biology and Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He has been a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Browne Center for International Politics, a nonproliferation policy fellow at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and a junior faculty fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.

Biting the Hand that Feeds: An Organizational Theory Explaining Attacks against Aid Workers in Civil Conflict

Why do parties in a conflict ever direct violent attacks against humanitarian aid workers? Despite the fact that most humanitarian aid missions operate under explicit guidelines to remain politically neutral in providing basic resources, aid workers are frequently the targets of violent attacks.  To date, there has been no systematic attempt to analyze the determinants of violence against aid workers.  In this paper, we argue that the occurrence and variation in attacks against aid workers across civil wars is partially the result of within-group collective action problems.  Although warring factions have a long-term collective incentive to exercise restraint in their relationship with humanitarian aid provisions – lest aid organizations withdraw entirely – they are also composed of individual members with private incentives to hijack and divert aid for personal gain.  We therefore posit that the likelihood of abuse will depend on at least two important factors related to groups’ willingness and ability to solve collective action problems: first, whether sufficient collective incentives exist for armed groups to exercise restraint in anticipation of future punishments (or rewards), and second, whether factions exhibit strong centralized control that enables them to set in place disciplinary structures to identify and sanction opportunistic defections among individual members.  We test these expectations empirically using data on the organizational characteristics of rebel groups and find strong support for our argument.

Lasse Lindekilde

Associate professor, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Denmark

Lasse Lindekilde is associate professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University. Lasse received his PhD from the European University Institute, Florence (2009), for a dissertation on the mobilization and claims-making of Danish Muslims in reaction to the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. His recent research has focused on violent radicalization and the design, implementation and effects of counter-radicalization policies. He has conducted field-based research on mechanisms of radicalization and the impact of counter-radicalization policies. He will be a Visiting Fellow at the Orfalea Center at UCSB from January-July 2018.

Communicating with the public about terrorist attacks involving firearms: A survey experiment on factors influencing intention to ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ in the UK and Denmark

– By Lindekilde, Lasse, Pearce, J., Parker, D. & Rogers, B.

How will European publics respond to advice on what to do in the event of a terrorist attack? In this survey experiment, 3003 UK and Danish participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: no information; leaflet intervention; and film intervention to examine the impact of ‘Run, Hide, Tell’ advice on perceptions about terrorism, the security services and intended responses to a hypothetical terrorist firearms attack. Results demonstrate important benefits of pre-event communication in relation to enhancing trust, encouraging protective health behaviours and discouraging potentially dangerous actions. However, these findings also suggest that future communications should address perceived response costs and target specific problem behaviours. Cross-national similarities in response suggest this advice is suitable for adaptation in other countries.

Charlotte Heath-Kelly

Associate Professor in Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Charlotte Heath-Kelly holds a PhD in International Politics from Aberystwyth University, for her research with ex-militants from the Cypriot EOKA and Italian left-wing insurgencies. Her current research focuses on memorialisation after terrorist attacks, and European counter-radicalisation policies. She is funded by a ‘Future Research Leaders’ fellowship (ESRC) for her work on post-terrorist memorialisation, and by a ‘Wellcome Trust Seed Award in Humanities and Social Science’ for her work on counter-radicalisation in the healthcare sector.  She is the author of Death and Security: Memory and Mortality at the Bombsite (Manchester University Press, 2016) and Politics of Violence: Militancy, International Politics, Killing in the Name (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013). Her research articles also feature in International Political Sociology; Critical Studies on Terrorism; Security Dialogue; Studies in Conflict and Terrorism; and the British Journal of International Studies, among others.

Normalising the Terrorist Emergency in the UK: Nurses, Doctors, Dentists and Schoolteachers as Counterterrorism Operatives

In 2015, the UK government introduced the Prevent Duty. This legislation placed a statutory duty on all healthcare providers, schools and universities to ‘take due regard for preventing people being drawn into terrorism’. In practice, this has meant that nurses, doctors, dentists, teachers, and lecturers have been ‘trained’ to spot signs of radicalisation in patients and students, and then report them to local government. This ‘training’ is a one hour session where they watch a dvd produced by the Home Office, and has resulted in over 8000 people undergoing a deradicalisation process per year.

This paper draws from a Wellcome Trust funded study of the prevent duty in the national health service. The project explores how counterterrorism has been reconfigured as ‘safeguarding’ – the duty of social care professionals to protect vulnerable people from abuse (ideological abuse, in the case of radicalisation). This redeployment of counterterrorism surveillance as an act of care demonstrates a profound normalisation of the emergency powers and legislative responses to 9/11. In the period of ‘after after 9/11’, the dramatic legislative responses of Contest (UK) and the Patriot Act (USA) have given way to the normalised embedding of exceptional powers in everyday social life. Counterterrorism has become the everyday prerogative of citizens, teachers and healthcare providers – and once exceptional powers have been made banal.


Peter Grabosky

Professor Emeritus, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

Peter Grabosky holds a PhD in Political Science from Northwestern University, and has written extensively on criminal justice and public policy. Peter is interested generally in how non-state institutions may be harnessed in furtherance of public policy. His other interests include cybercrime, transparency, and regulatory failure. Peter was the 2006 winner of the Sellin-Glueck Award of the American Society of Criminology for contributions to comparative and international criminology; the 2011 recipient of the Prix Hermann Mannheim, awarded by the International Centre of Comparative Criminology at the University of Montreal; and the Gilbert Geis Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of outstanding professional contributions in the area of white collar crime, conferred by the (US) National White Collar Crime Center and the White Collar Crime Research Consortium, 2012. He is a past president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology, and a founding member of the Asian Criminological Society.

Sympathy for the Devil? State engagement with criminal actors in furtherance of public policy

Before the rise of the modern state, many activities which today are widely regarded as core government functions were undertaken in whole or in part by private interests. Not all of these non-state actors were above reproach. Some indeed were engaged by the state because they possessed skills that were rare among law abiding citizens.  This chapter will discuss various examples of how states have engaged criminal organizations in furtherance of public policy. It will then canvass the rationale for such practices, and the risks that such dangerous liaisons may entail. Looking to the post 9/11 environment and beyond, it suggests that the perceived threat of terrorism, the intransigence of national security bureaucracies, and the proliferation of digital technology have enhanced the likelihood of continued “supping with the devil.”   Such irregular forms of statecraft seem likely to persist as long as bureaucratic ambitions and perceptions of insecurity, realistic or otherwise, endure.

Ruth Blakeley

Professor of Politics and International Relations, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Professor Blakeley’s research focuses on a range of issues across the areas of international security, terrorism and political violence, and the global governance of human rights. Her interests include US power, imperialism, US and UK foreign policy, state violence and terrorism, and torture. She is particularly interested in the relationship between the evolution of the international political economy and state violence. These interests lead her to frequently engage with questions on the potential of human rights norms and laws as vehicles for political and social change. In recent years, she has co-directed (with Dr. Sam Raphael, University of Westminster), The Rendition Project, funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, providing the most comprehensive analysis to date of the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation programme. Ruth has published in leading journals, and is author of State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the South (London: Routledge, 2009). She is the Lead Editor of the Review of International Studies, a journal of the British International Studies Association (BISA), published by Cambridge University Press.

Incarceration, Incapacitation and Retribution: Exploring the Counter-Terrorism Prison System

There is a long established approach to detention in liberal states, whereby incarceration itself is seen as the punishment for the crime, but once interned, prisoners supposedly undergo processes of rehabilitation and reform. In relation to terror suspects, however, there is evidence to suggest that retribution is pursued beyond the act of imprisoning and through subsequent and on-going mistreatment. At the extreme end, this has been through illicit and arbitrary detention in secret CIA prisons and the US facility at Guantánamo Bay, where prisoners have been subjected to treatment aimed at incapacitation, including through torture, rather than rehabilitation. But there has also been a cross-over of these incapacitation practices against terror suspects in the domestic US penal system (and elsewhere), with individuals being imprisoned in so-called supermax prisons in the US, following prosecutions that fall far short of normal due process. This paper will examine how incarceration and punishment of terror suspects has evolved globally since 2001. The paper will explore three core themes: first, the erosion of due process in relation to the imprisonment terror suspects; second, the ongoing retribution and incapacitation of prisoners once detained; and third, the race and class dynamics of these practices.

Daren Fisher

Assistant Professor in Criminal Justice at The Citadel

Daren Fisher received his PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, for his dissertation examining the impact of US Presidential Communications on Terrorism targeting the United States. He specializes in empirically testing the predictions of criminological theory to better inform government policies that aim to reduce terrorism using econometric methods and qualitative approaches. Daren has published articles in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Police Practice and Researchthe International Journal of Law, Crime, and Justice, and Critical Criminology. He has also authored book chapters on Sociological and Criminological Explanations of Terrorism (Oxford University Press, eds. Erica Chenoweth, Andreas Gofas, Richard English, and Stathis Kalyvas) and the Emergence of Classical Criminological Theory (Wiley, ed. Ruth A. Triplett).

What the United States Government Does and Says Matters
– By Laura Dugan, Daren Fisher, Erica Chenoweth

This paper begins by reviewing research on the impact of U.S. presidential rhetoric and federal government actions on terrorist attacks and hate crimes from the 1980s through most of the Obama administration. These findings demonstrate that what the U.S. government does matter in ways that are both expected and unexpected. Yet, much has changed since the Obama administration, as the U.S. has elected a president who ran on a campaign that relied upon antagonistic rhetoric toward Muslims, immigrants, and other minority groups. Further, Trump’s cabinet appointees demonstrate the administration’s commitment to isolating and suppressing Muslims in the name of combatting Islamist extremism as opposed to the Obama administration’s more conciliatory tone. The remainder of this paper will speculate on how the different actions of the Trump administration have fueled both Jihadi and Far Right extremism, and describe the efforts required to collect data to more formally assess the impact of U.S. federal actions under a Trump administration.

Scott Englund

Lecturer, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and Visiting Scholar Orfalea Center, UCSB

Scott Englund is a terrorism, counter-terror policy, and international security expert.  Currently, he is a Lecturer in Political Science at the California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, a Visiting Scholar with the Orfalea Center for Global and international Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Non-Resident Fellow at TRENDS Research and Advisory.  Prior to his present academic career, Dr. Englund was a political and counter-terrorism analyst for the Department of Defense and the Federal Bureau of Investigation; in that capacity he provided assessments for the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and other senior US policy makers.  Between 2006 and 2009, Dr. Englund was deployed to Iraq four times.  Dr. Englund has also served on the professional staff of elected officials at the federal, state and municipal level of government in the US.

Re-thinking and Re-designing Counterterrorism Policy

Can the way governments describe terrorist threats to their constituents define “eras” of terrorist violence?  The question posed by the conference is “is there an after after 9-11?”  The commonly propagated belief after the September 11, 2001 attacks was that “everything changed” and this understanding of terrorism and perhaps even global security politics persisted for many years.  The common reference after 9-11 was that the terrorist threat could best be understood as a network of al-Qaeda “franchises” working toward a single goal, relying on almost identical motivations and justifications for their action.  Has this common description changed? Using the Presidential Papers of President Richard Nixon through Donald Trump and other official government documents, such as the National Security Strategy, the State Department and National Counter-terrorism Center annual terrorism reports, this paper investigates how the U.S. government described terrorism for its people.  Through that investigation of official descriptions we may determine if the United States has entered an “after after 9-11,” from that we may infer counter-terror policy changes as a result.

Remi Brulin

Adjunct Professor, Sociology Department and Interdisciplinary Studies Program, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York

Remi holds a PhD in history and political science from La Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris). His dissertation, entitled ‘The American discourse on terrorism : Constitution, evolution and contexts of enunciation (1972-1992),’ was shorlisted for the ‘Prix de la Thèse’ in 2011. Remi’s research focuses on the history of the American discourse on ‘terrorism’ and on the role that various actors, specifically the media and ‘terrorism experts’ have played in the construction of ‘terrorism.’ He was a visiting research scholar and adjunct professor at New York University’s Media, Culture and Communication Department and its Journalism Institute, as well as at George
Washington University’s School of Media and Public Opinion, where he was the recipient of a Shapiro fellowship. Remi’s inter-disciplinary work has been featured in a book from Cambridge Scholars Publishing as well as in Dialectical Anthropology, Contemporary Social Science, CNN, Foreign Policy Magazine and various online outlets.

Constructing ‘Terrorism’ : The Multiple, Contradictory Discourses of the Reagan Years

The discourse on ‘terrorism’ that has loomed so large over the American political landscape since the September 11, 2001 attacks and continues to do so in the ‘after, after 9/11’ has a history, in which the last decade of the Cold War played a central role. My presentation will be based on a comprehensive analysis of President Reagan’s public speeches on ‘terrorism’ as well as on transcripts from a variety of United Nations and Congressional debates from that time period, with a simple question in mind: how did US officials define ‘terrorism’ and, specifically, how did they sort out which (state and non-state) actors around the world were, and were not, ‘terrorists?’ This research, based on primary sources, will show that there existed, precisely during the decade that was so pivotal in the construction of ‘terrorism,’ not one but rather several, often fundamentally different and incompatible American discourses on ‘terrorism.’ These compartmentalized discourses, informed by different, indeed mutually exclusive, definitions of ‘terrorism,’ were developed in different fora (or contexts of enunciation) and, all too often, remained fully hidden from public view. As I will try to argue, further critical investigation into the constructions of ‘terrorism’ could greatly benefit from the development of a theoretical and methodological framework that would document and analyze the history of these multiple, compartmentalized discourses on ‘terrorism’ in relationship to the various contexts, safe or adversarial, public or secret, political or mediated, in which they were produced, as well as the role that a multiplicity of actors, from elected officials to the news media to ‘terrorism experts,’ played in this process of meaning production.

Richard Jackson

Director National Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand

Richard Jackson is the founding editor and current editor-in-chief of the journal, Critical Studies on Terrorism. He is the author and editor of 10 books and more than 60 journal articles and book chapters. His books include: The Routledge Handbook of Critical Terrorism Studies (Routledge, 2016); Confessions of a Terrorist (Zed, 2014); Contemporary Debates on Terrorism (Routledge, 2012; co-edited with Samuel Justin Sinclair); Terrorism: A Critical Introduction (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011; co-authored with Marie Breen Smyth, Jeroen Gunning and Lee Jarvis); Contemporary State Terrorism: Theory and Cases(Routledge, 2010; co-edited with Eamon Murphy and Scott Poynting); Conflict Resolution in the Twenty-first Century: Principles, Methods and Approaches (Ann Arbor MI: Michigan University Press, 2009; co-authored with Jacob Bercovitch); Critical Terrorism Studies: A New Research Agenda (Abingdon: Routledge, 2009; co-edited with Marie Breen Smyth and Jeroen Gunning); and Writing the War on Terrorism: Language, Politics and Counterterrorism (Manchester University Press, 2005).

Fresh thinking about counterterrorism: Exploring nonviolence and pacifism

It is relatively uncontroversial to suggest that the dominant force-based approach to counterterrorism since 9/11 has been a failure. The empirical evidence suggests that the war on terror has failed to reduce levels of terrorism globally (in fact, terrorism has proliferated under the war on terrorism), failed to reduce the number of terrorist groups (in fact, groups allied to al Qaeda have proliferated since 2001) and has failed to protect civilians from violence (in fact, the war on terrorism has killed far more people than terrorism, and terrorists have killed more people since the start of the war on terrorism). More specific empirical evidence demonstrates the failure of drone killings and torture as methods of counterterrorism, as well as the failure of anti-terrorism measures which have resulted in the substitution effect whereby softer civilian targets bear the brunt of efforts to secure previously targeted sites. None of this is surprising, given that terrorists actively seek a violent response to their actions, and that as a mode of political behaviour, violence is poorly equipped to influence, encourage or deter a change in behaviour. For these reasons, a major rethink of counterterrorism is required. This paper argues that nonviolence and pacifist theory and practice, as well as empirical evidence from peace studies and conflict resolution, provide important untapped resources for re-thinking and re-designing the counterterrorism paradigm away from the reflexive and self-fulfilling use of counter-violence, towards measures which deal with the reasons why actors take up violence in the first place. Theoretical and empirical evidence suggests that nonviolent methods can successfully protect civilians from terrorism, while also dealing with the roots of political violence and constructing a more secure, peaceful politics.

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Ben Smith
Ben Smith
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