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The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 2006
Editor: Chris Miller

'Terror' is a diffuse notion that takes no account of local particularities and 'war on terror' is a contradiction in terms. This book is based on the lectures that were given on the subject in Oxford in 2006. Amnesty has described 'war on terror' as a war on human rights. It is also a contest of narratives: stories that the protagonists tell about themselves, about their enemies, and about what is happening now. The book considers how the recent actions of the United States have stressed and stretched two areas of international law: the right of self-defence, and the rules of international humanitarian law. State terrorism, with a bit of careful spin, can be reclassified as counter-terrorism, in other words as inherently good in the same way that terrorism is inherently bad. The book engages with the politico-conceptual difficulties of distinguishing between war and terrorism. The interface and tensions between the human rights tradition and the Islamic tradition, particularly Islamic law, is discussed. The intensification of Western repression against Islamic thinkers or activists has at times been coupled with policies that seemed designed to change the religious trajectory of society. The sexualization of torture is only one way in which the 'war on terror' has delineated who is (and who is not) human. Religion, human rights, and trauma narratives are three other mechanisms for rationalizing suffering. The book also discusses the subject of censuring reckless killing of innocent civilians by the issue of fatwas by Muslim teachers.

Theoretical issues and local challenges

Recent years have seen the proliferation of discourses surrounding extremism and related terms. Encountering Extremism offers readers the opportunity to interrogate extremism through a plethora of theoretical perspectives, and to explore counter-extremism as it has materialised in plural local contexts. Through offering a critical interrogation along these two planes – the theoretical and the local – Encountering Extremism presents a unique, in-depth and critical analysis of a profoundly important subject. This book seeks to understand, and expose the implications of, a fundamental problematic: how should scholars and strategists alike understand the contemporary shift from counter-terrorism to counter-extremism?

Starting with a genealogical reflection on the discourse and practices of extremism, the book brings together authors examining the topic of extremism, countering extremism and preventing extremism from different theoretical perspectives, such as critical terrorism studies, postcolonialism and gender studies. It then turns to analyses of the specific consequences of this new discourse in international and local contexts such as the United Nations, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain.

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Second edition
Author: A. J. Coates

Though the just war tradition has an ancient pedigree, like any tradition of thought, it is subject to historical highs and lows. Drawing on examples from the history of warfare from the Crusades to the present day, this book explores the limits and possibilities of the moral regulation of war. It focuses on the tensions which exist between war and morality. The moral ambiguity and mixed record of that tradition is acknowledged and the dangers which an exaggerated view of the justice or moral worth of war poses are underlined. The adoption of a 'dispositional' view of ethical life, in which moral character and moral culture play a decisive part, widens and transforms the ethics of war. Realism resists the application of morality to war. Pacifism harms and benefits the just war tradition in about equal measure. In opposition to the amoral and wholly pragmatic approach of the 'pure' realist, the just war theorist insists on the moral determination of war where that is possible, and on the moral renunciation of war where it is not. Moral realism is what the just war tradition purports to be about. Legitimate authority has become entirely subordinated to the concept of state sovereignty. If moderate forms of consequentialism threaten the principle of noncombatant immunity, more extreme or purer forms clearly undermine it. The strategic and the ethical problems of counterterrorism are compounded by the emergence of a new and more extreme form of terrorism.

Communiqués and insurrectionary violence

Since the early 2000s, global, underground networks of insurrectionary anarchists have carried out thousands of acts of political violence. This book is an exploration of the ideas, strategies, and history of these political actors that engage in a confrontation with the oppressive powers of the state and capital. The vast majority of these attacks have been claimed via online communiqués through anonymous monikers such as the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI). The emphasis of the insurrectionary, nihilist-infused anarchism is on creating war-like conditions for opposing capitalism, the state, and that which perpetuates structural violence (e.g. racism, poverty, speciesism, gender roles). To connect the various configurations of post-millennial, insurrectionary resistance, the book explores explore three of its most identifiable components, the FAI, Conspiracy of Cells of Fire (CCF), and emergent networks in Mexico. In his discussion of guerrilla warfare and terrorism, conflict theorist Richard Rubenstein points to a two-stage understanding advocated by Vietnamese leader and military strategist General Vo Nguyen Giap. The book also examines the strategy of Blanquism, the contribution of "classical anarchists," the influence of theorists such as Tiqqun and The Invisible Committee. It seeks to construct the basis for an insurrectionary framework based around a shared politic. The feminist methodology and ethic of research adds a great deal, including a reading of identity politics, standpoint theory, action-orientated research, and embedded, emotive and sincere participatory involvement. The design and methodological intent of the book is to embrace a "militant" form of inquiry which is counter to the project of securitization.

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The threat of dissident Republicans to peace in Northern Ireland

This book assesses the security threat and political challenges offered by dissident Irish republicanism to the Northern Irish peace process. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement failed to end entirely armed republicanism. The movement of Sinn Féin into constitutional politics in a government of Northern Ireland and the eschewing of militarism that followed, including disbandment of the Provisional IRA (PIRA), the decommissioning of weapons and the supporting of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) proved too much for a minority of republicans. This book begins by examining Sinn Féin’s evolution from the margins of political existence to becoming mainstream constitutional players. It then assesses how the compromises associated with these changes have been rejected by republican ‘dissidents’.

In order to explore the heterogeneity of contemporary Irish republicanism this book draws upon in-depth interviews and analyses the strategies and tactics of various dissident republican groups. This analysis is used to outline the political and military challenges posed by dissidents to Northern Ireland in a post-Good Friday Agreement context as well as examine the response of the British state towards continuing violence. This discussion places the state response to armed republicanism in Northern Ireland within the broader debate on counter-terrorism after 9/11.

The politics of Prevent
Author: Thomas Martin

How can potential future terrorists be identified? Forming one of the four pillars of the United Kingdom’s counter-terrorism strategy CONTEST, Prevent seeks to answer, and act on, this question. Occupying a central role in security debates post-9/11, Prevent is concerned with understanding and tackling radicalisation. It carries the promise of early intervention into the lives of those who may be on a pathway to violence.

This book offers an innovative account of the Prevent policy, situating it as a novel form of power that has played a central role in the production and the policing of contemporary British identity. Drawing on interviews with those at the heart of Prevent’s development, the book provides readers with an in-depth history and conceptualisation of the policy. The book demonstrates that Prevent is an ambitious new way of thinking about violence that has led to the creation of a radical new role for the state: tackling vulnerability to radicalisation. Foregrounding the analytical relationship between security, identity and temporality in Prevent, this book situates the policy as central to contemporary identity politics in the UK. Detailing the history of the policy, and the concepts and practices that have been developed within Prevent, this book critically engages with the assumptions on which they are based and the forms of power they mobilise.

In providing a timely history and analysis of British counter-radicalisation policy, this book will be of interests to students and academics interested in contemporary security policy and domestic responses to the ‘War on Terror’.

Terrorism, parliament and the ritual of proscription
Authors: Lee Jarvis and Tim Legrand

Banning them, securing us offers a rich and expansive exploration of the politics of proscribing – or banning – terrorist organisations in Britain. The book calls attention to the remarkable, and overlooked, role of proscription debates and decisions in contemporary UK politics. Using primary empirical research, the book shows how parliamentary processes of proscribing ‘illegitimate’ organisations is as much a ritual performance as it is a technique for countering political violence. This ritual, we argue, is a performance of sovereignty and powerful framing of Britain as a liberal, democratic, moderate space. Yet, it represents a paradox too. For proscription’s processes have limited democratic or judicial oversight, and its outcomes pose significant threats to democratic norms, human rights, political dissent and citizenship more broadly.

The book breaks important new ground on the politics of terrorism, counter-terrorism, security and democracy. It will be widely read by researchers and students across Security Studies, International Relations, Political Science, History, Sociology and beyond.

Controversial British techniques

Interrogation, Intelligence and Security examines the origins and effects of a group of controversial interrogation techniques often described as torture, known as the ‘five techniques’. Focusing on the colony of Aden at a time when British rule was being challenged by nationalist insurgents (1963-67), on the height of ‘the troubles’ in Northern Ireland (1971) and the conflict in Iraq (2003), the book explores the use of hooding to restrict vision, white noise, stress positions, limited sleep and a limited diet. Through its in-depth analysis the book reveals how British forces came to use such controversial methods in counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism and internal security contexts. In Aden and Northern Ireland the techniques were a part of policy, used because of the British military’s belief – a belief adopted by members of government – that the techniques would increase the amount and quality of intelligence obtained during interrogation. In Iraq the techniques were used for a much more complex set of factors that can be categorised into facilitating and motivating factors. The book finds that while it is likely that some intelligence was produced from these interrogations, the techniques had widespread and long-lasting negative effects that should be taken into account when judging whether these and similar techniques can be justified.

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The domestic politics of Putin

This book shows the impact of twenty-first-century security concerns on the way Russia is ruled. It demonstrates how President Vladimir Putin has wrestled with terrorism, immigration, media freedom, religious pluralism, and economic globalism, and argues that fears of a return to old-style authoritarianism oversimplify the complex context of contemporary Russia. Since the early 1990s, Russia has been repeatedly analysed in terms of whether it is becoming a democracy or not. This book instead focuses on the internal security issues common to many states in the early twenty-first century, and places them in the particular context of Russia, the world's largest country, still dealing with its legacy of communism and authoritarianism. Detailed analysis of the place of security in Russia's political discourse and policy making reveals nuances often missing from overarching assessments of Russia today. To characterise the Putin regime as the ‘KGB-resurgent’ is to miss vital continuities, contexts, and on-going political conflicts that make up the contemporary Russian scene. The book draws together current debates about whether Russia is a ‘normal’ country developing its own democratic and market structures, or a nascent authoritarian regime returning to the past. Drawing on extensive interviews and Russian source material, it argues that the growing security factor in Russia's domestic politics is neither ubiquitous nor unchallenged. It must be understood in the context of Russia's immediate history and the growing domestic security concerns of many states the world over.

A history of propaganda from the ancient world to the present era

This book presents a history of propaganda from the ancient world to the present day. The ancient Greeks, best remembered for their enduring contributions to civilization, recognized that propaganda was an essential ingredient of an organized and effective society. The book begins with the suggestion that it is the intention behind propaganda that needs scrutiny, not just the propaganda itself. It is intention that has caused and prolonged wars. Increased use of persuasive techniques intended to benefit humanity as a whole requires some fundamental rethinking about how people popularly regard propaganda. Differences of opinion between people and nations are inevitable, but they can only remain a healthy aspect of civilized society if violence, war and terrorism are avoided. Since 9/11, people need peace propagandists, not war propagandists: people whose job it is to increase communication, understanding and dialogue between different peoples with different perspectives. A gradual process of explanation can only generate greater trust, and therefore a greater willingness to understand our perspective. And if this dialogue is mutual, greater empathy and consensus will emerge. The historical function of propaganda has been to fuel that fear, hypocrisy and ignorance, and it has earned itself a bad reputation for so doing. But propaganda has the potential to serve a constructive, civilized and peaceful purpose if that is the intention behind conducting it.