Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

Introduction

Academic journal article The Polish Quarterly of International Affairs

Introduction

Article excerpt

It is arguable that terrorism research has been transformed even more than terrorism itself during the years since the atrocity of 9/11. This excellent collection of papers reflects on some of the more exciting trends that have developed, interrogates some of the more angular problems that persist, and draws deeply on case-study expertise in order to move numerous debates on terrorism and counter-terrorism very helpfully forward.

The subjects covered here are not all ones that will appeal to the squeamish. Does "decapitation" of terrorist leaderships work? If so, why, and under what circumstances, and at what cost? Is the integration of terrorists into state networks and structures justified and effective as a counter-terrorist tactic? How far should we concentrate on terrorist leaders anyway? The case studies range from Egypt to Algeria to Spain to France to Denmark. Such impressive balance helps avoid some of the problems that have hindered terrorism research in recent years, such as an over-emphasis on Al Qaeda (there are probably now more people studying Al Qaeda than are actually in it), or the lack of scrutiny of those policies which have in practice worked rather well against non-state terrorist groups.

Historically, terrorism has changed world politics much more powerfully through the provocation of large-scale state reactions than it has through its own (admittedly pernicious and blood-spattered) directly violent effects. Both the 20th and 21st centuries began with incidents of terrorist violence, state reactions to which transformed politics and international relations. …

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