Democracy and Counterterrorism

Lessons from the Past
January 2007
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Combating terrorism is nothing new for democracies. Over the course of decades, a wide range of democratic states has encountered an array of terrorist groups—and, moreover, has often prevailed against them. As this timely and stimulating volume makes clear, the United States can learn much from fellow democracies to help it in its current war against al Qaeda and affiliated groups.

Democracy and Counterterrorism offers unparalleled breadth in its comparative study of the policies, strategies, and instruments employed in the fight against terrorism. The distinguished contributors—some scholars, some practitioners, and all renowned experts—examine no fewer than fourteen cases, featuring thirteen states and sixteen major terrorist groups. Each case study includes a brief overview, a detailed analysis of the policies and techniques that the government employed, and an assessment of which measures proved most effective and instructive.

The substantial conclusion draws together common threads from the individual cases and asks what lessons their collective experience can offer to the democracies now battling al Qaeda and the global jihadists. Among the answers sure to interest policymakers as well as academics is that the constraints within which democracies must fight terrorism are actually a source of strength; democratic governments that seek simply to obliterate terrorism by force usually succeed only in making their problems worse.

"This volume, the most systematic and comprehensive study to date, is a valuable set of comparative case studies of democratic responses to terrorism beyond the United States. It demonstrates conclusively that there are useful lessons to be learned about policy effectiveness from the diverse counterterrorism experiences of a wide range of countries."

—Martha Crenshaw, - Wesleyan University

Robert J. Art

Robert J. Art is professor of international relations at Brandeis University and research associate at Harvard University's Olin Institute for Strategic Studies and MIT's Security Studies Program.

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