Terrorism: How to Respond

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"The post-9/11 War on Terror has spectacularly failed. This book argues that we now need a radically new approach to dealing with the international terrorist threat. Recent policies have ignored the lessons of the past. Terrorism: How to Respond seeks to remedy this lack of vision by looking at the long history of terrorism." Drawing lessons from the whole spectrum of terrorist violence, from the IRA, ETA, and the German Red Army Faction to the Islamist terrorist groups of the 21st century such as Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, it assesses why such violence emerges, how it is sustained, and - most crucially of all - how and why it ends.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

English (Armed Struggle), a professor of politics at Belfast's Queen's University, applies lessons learned from the sectarian struggle in Northern Ireland to the broader issue of international terrorism in this provocative primer. The author lambastes the "war on terror" for nurturing the "disaffection from which terrorist activity is generated." Effective response is contingent on a "sharper, more accurate, and more integrated" historical perspective, he posits, making selective comparisons between Irish and Islamic terrorism to tease out what conditions incite and sustain "significant terrorism campaigns." English's seven-point proposal (approaches the U.S. has "disastrously" ignored in its response to September 11) warns against "a primarily military response" and recommends instead a coordinated policy of security as well as financial and technological measures, with an emphasis on military intelligence-not force-as "the most vital element in successful counter-terrorism." More controversial is his advice to "learn to live with terrorism as part of our political reality" and his contention that terrorism, historically ubiquitous, can never be defeated, merely contained while we strive to address its "root problems." (Sept.)

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From the Publisher
"[A] definitive history of the IRA" — The New York Review of Books

"This is a very fine book. It is elegant and persuasively argued from a man who really does know what he is talking about. The long view of Richard English is vital in an age of the knee-jerk."—Fergal Keane, BBC Special Correspondent

"Richard English is the author of outstanding histories of the IRA and Irish nationalism. Thoughtful scholarship lies at the heart of his fine analysis of terrorism as both a military and a political problem...In exploring this huge subject, English makes many telling points...while using history to console us with the thought that many terrorist movements eventually atrophy, provided societies have the resilience to see them out"—Literary Review

"Western governments continue to need constant admonitions, such as English provides, to adopt proportionate rather than draconian responses"—Sunday Times

"If you want to read one book which explains the phenomenon of terrorism, gives you a good historical grasp of the subject while also providing a dispassionate roadmap to guide you through the term's complex meanderings and its many intellectual cul-de-sacs, then this is the book for you. It is outstanding: short and beautifully written, it manages also to be thoroughly on top of its subject"—Irish Times

"[a] provocative primer"—Publishers Weekly

"a sober corrective to some dangerous recent misconceptions." —Prospect

"'thoughtful, informed meditation on the state of terrorism research."—Foreign Affairs

"English negotiates a sophisticated path through the questions of definition and explanation that have long dominated this field...[The book] retains a credibility and persuasiveness lacked by many of its competitors...[and] advances our understanding of terrorism, its costs and its consequences considerably."—International Affairs

"a thought-provoking primer for politicians seeking something to stimulate them."—The American Conservative


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199229987
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard English is Professor of Politics at Queen's University. Educated at the Universities of Oxford and Keele, he is a frequent media commentator on terrorism and Irish politics and history, including work for the BBC, NPR, the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, and the Financial Times. He is the author of six books and co-editor of a further five, and is the author of over forty journal articles and book chapters. His books include Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA (Winner of the 2003 UK Political Studies Association Politics Book of the Year Award) and Irish Freedom: The History of Nationalism in Ireland (Winner of the 2007 Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, and the 2007 Political Studies Association of Ireland Book Prize).

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Table of Contents

List of Plates

List of Abbreviations

1 What is "Terrorism? 1

2 Why do People Resort to"Terror? 27

3 What can we Learn from "Terrorism Past? 56

4 How Should We Respond? 118

Endnotes 145

Bibliography 167

Photographic Acknowledgements 176

Index 177

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