The seventh and deadliest sin of terrorism is that it saps the will of a civilized society to defend itself.
Paul Johnson1 in Benjamin Netanyahu, ed., International Terrorism: Challenge and Response
Paul Johnson's comment, published in 1980, reflected a sense of alarm that was widely shared at that time. For more than ten years, domestic and international terrorism had raged across Europe and the Middle East. One government after another had capitulated to the demands of terrorist groups. Diplomats, business people, soldiers, heads of state, and innocent bystanders had been killed or maimed. No state, however small or far removed from the world's trouble spots, seemed immune. In the early 1980s, the problem only appeared to get worse. Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that many felt democracy itself might not survive the onslaught.
Yet fourteen years later the democracies of Europe and North America remain in existence. While they suffer from many problems, Johnson's worst fears have not been realized: None has succumbed to international terrorism. That said, the democracies did not survive unscathed. Some enacted or renewed special powers, security forces expanded their jurisdictions, and most states increased protection around certain installations and important persons. So it might be argued that in these and other ways the democracies emerged subtly less free. In other words, the real danger from international terrorism was not that democracies would fail to defend themselves, but rather that they would (and did) do so far too well--and, in so doing, became less democratic.
The aim of this study is to examine in comparative context the extent to which this process occurred in six democratic states. In particular, it attempts to show