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Mon. May 27, 2024
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Ways Forward in Global Counterterrorism
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By Cornelia Beyer The last decade has been marked by a political obsession with creating and implementing measures to counter terrorism. In addition, nearly globally states have been integrated into regimes promoting counterterrorism measures of wide range. This article will look at the most important positive and negative outcomes of these policies and argue that we need to utilize the positive gains from the former Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) to spread cooperation, stability and welfare. This article is divided into three main parts. First, it is going to describe in which ways global counterterrorism efforts have created global governance in a new policy field. It will argue that herein lies the main advantage and the most important positive outcome of the GWOT. Second, the article will criticize the strong focus in counterterrorism on military approaches and intelligence, which, while useful in pursueing terrorists, don't add much to the resolution of the underlying problems contributing to the emergence of terrorism. In a third step, it will be argued that we have to utilize the positive achievements from the GWOT for increasing stability, peace and prosperity on a global level. The mechanisms, networks and procedures which have been created with the purpose to counter terrorism need to be utilized to spread global governance in further areas and strengthen it in existing ones. This article will conclude by arguing that we need to refocus our collective efforts away from the 'state of security' towards the 'conditions of security'. We need to focus on soft policy matters to reduce the conditions which allow for the emergence of political violence in order to pursue an effective longterm strategy. Global governance is the creation of globally cooperative networks spanning many levels and including a diverse array of actors with the goal to collectively address global problems. It is supported by the creation of international regimes, and institutionalized in international organizations and international law. Global governance is understood as the most powerful tool to address in particular the externalities of globalization: issues such as climate change, migration, human rights. These problems need transnational, integrated responses to be effectively and efficiently addressed. National policies are virtually helpless against them. The formerly so-called 'Global War on Terrorism' has brought about political arrangements of cooperation which can be described as global governance. They have done so in an area where little cooperation on a global level, and in many cases even few policies on the national level, existed before. In particular the United States helped to create networks of cooperation in this new policy field on a nearly global level. The majority of states internationally in the past ten years have started to create and implement their own counterterrorism policies. Even Cuba now has legal measures against terrorism in place. Also, many states participated – even if to varying degrees – in global counterterrorism cooperation. It has been argued that the collective efforts in global counterterrorism are resembling a still emerging area of global governance, a new policy field in which collaborative global ordering activities are pursued. Not only are states pursueing policies of counterterrorism on a national level, they also collaborate to spread cooperation and effective approaches, to promote further efforts in other states and regions, and to support each others activities with technical support, legal advise and knowledge transfer. The development of this hegemonially led new form of global governance is certainly the most important an most positive outcome of the formerly so-called Global War on Terrorism. Not only has it created cooperation where little cooperation existed before 2001, also it created the basis for potentially increased future cooperation on a widened and deepened basis. Hence, the newly created global governance in the area of counterterrorism could serve as a springboard to allow for spillover of collaboration and integration into other policy fields. While the potential, for example, to increase cooperation in higher levels of security on a global level is desirable, in this area it is the least certain as still strong considerations of sovereign autonomy in this field persist, even in Europe, and trust among states in many regions of the world is still a scarce commodity. However, according to the logic of spillover, it even here is possible and already happening that cooperation on the lower level of security, which is counterterrorism, accustoms states to increased collaboration and trust in the realm of security generally. In addition, cooperation in counterterrorism could be used to either incite or strengthen cooperation in other fields of global concern where it is either no-existent or weak. The policies pursued in the last decade in th name of global counterterrorism have been largely focused on military and intelligence measures. Not only were these policies extremely expensive, also they don't necessarily contribute much to longterm success against political violence. Short term, amazing achievements have been made, the most prominent among them obviously the killing of Osama bin Laden. It is widely predicted that Al Quaeda is weakened or even 'finished'. But how much guarantees this that the West does not need to fear further attacks in the future? It has been argued that the military-centred approach against terrorism has had several problematic effects. The most prominent among them obviously is the legitimacy-crisis which the United States created with it's highly disputed intervention in Iraq. According to international law – so the widespread concern – being an illegal act of aggression, this intervention has set precedents of unilateral attack which could – and with the case of Russia potentially already has – erode the general will to comply with the international standard of non-aggression lest it be authorized by the United Nations Security Council. The implications of this for future international relations should not be underestimated. If international law is not upheld by the strongest power in the world, who will protect it and comply with it? Secondly, particularly the Iraq intervention has brought the hegemon, the United States, into miscredit with the international community as well as the peoples of the world. While the approval rates for the US have shot up to previous levels under Obama, foreign policies such as these mentioned could serve to decrease the legitimacy and consensus which the US hegemony is based on. This could affect global stability as well as the international capacity to cooperate and to create trust among nations. Finally, and maybe most importantly, military strategies to counter terrorism serve short-term goals, but aid little to guarantee long-term success in the struggle against political violence. The argument, that military interventions increase the motivational basis – as a precondition – to engage in terrorism against the perceived occupational power has been theoretically and empirically substantiated. But not only do interventions increase hatred against the West, also – per se – they help little to address other underlying conditions which contribute to the emergence of terrorism. Issues, such as rampant unemployment, substandard education, poor social services and healthcare, and a general lack of development with at least the chance to future prosperity need to be addressed to tackle what has been described as lying at the root of the problem of political violence. The recent uprisings in the Middle East are just one outcome of a serious development crisis in the region. While apparently yet there is no connection to be drawn between the revolts and groups such as Al Quaeda, the situation could change if the West does not help ensure improvements in this area. Poverty, inequality, etc., are all regarded as preconditions for terrorism to occur, and while the leading figures of terrorist groups such as Al Quaeda might be affluent, the footsoldiers often are from the impoverished, unemployed strata. Young people, particularly male, without reasonable expectations for their lifes are more vulnerable to be recruited by terrorist groups. Political oppression and lack of democracy, freedom and participation are also important aspects contributing to the emergence of terrorism. However, while rhetorically important in the past, the spread of these goods is not necessarily aided by military interventions – at least not on their own. Political change, while desirable, is not necessarily achieved by interventions. Democracy has to be build from below, engaging peoples power. As the recent events in the Middle East illustrate, peoples are ready for change in many places. Supporting their struggles is a reasonable strategy. Libya hopefully will turn out as a more successful example of democratization, than, for example, Afghanistan. Both are examples of negative effects of the insertion of military power, as well as of its more positive potential. However, even in positive cases, military power on its own will not be enough to secure stabilization and democracy in the long term. Additional supporting policies are necessary to engage these new democracies and aid them on their way to stabilization. Otherwise, the short-term euphoria of victory and change might be overshadowed soon by following years with increased occurrence of violence. For stabilization, though, integration of these states an for enabling widespread support, we need the mechanisms of global governance. Global governance has been established on a far-ranging scale in the area of counterterrorism in the recent decade. While the precise scope of cooperation is hard to estimate, it surely spans all continents, most countries and a wide array of measures. Cooperation mechanisms have been established, positive relations formed, with many countries on a global scale. Institutions – nationally, regionally, and again globally – have been erected. International hard and soft law has been created. All this serves as a perfect basis for utilizing these new governance structures to insert new policies, more positively directed at creating stability, democracy and prosperity. The existing structures can be used to spread cooperation in the sphere of the economy, environmental protection, social issues. In parts, this has already happened as a natural effect of counterterrorism – for example in the area of immigration – , a strategic element of it – for example with intensive aid to Iraq and Afghanistan for development in the social sphere - or as a spillover from these efforts. While therefore the mentioned positive aspects are already present to some degree, much more could be achieved if the global governance structures of counterterrorism cooperation would be marred to cooperation in other fields of mutual concern. And again, inn many areas this is happening. Southeastasia, for example, is engaged in positive relations both in the security realm as well as economically with the United States. These serve as the background and basis for successful counterterrorism cooperation. For Afghanistan and Iraq, development aid is already a central second pillar in the fight against terrorism and does strongly accompany the military efforts in these states. The global governance of counterterrorism must continue to get better integrated into general global governance approaches and must be well balanced with other, non-military forms of cooperation. Global cooperation from the United States should refocus on global development matters. Anna Cornelia Beyer (PhD) is lecturer in politics at the Universsity of Hull, UK. She has studied US counterterrorism for more than a decade and has published widely in this area. Her publications include: Violent Globalisms: Conflict in Response to Empire; Effectively Countering Terrorism: The Challenges of Prevention, Preparedness and Respose; Counterterrorism and International Power Relations: The EU, ASEAN and Hegemonic Global Governance. Before joining the University of Hull in 2007, she held an academic post at the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

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