Terrorist Innovation and International Politics: Lessons from an IRA Case Study?

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Abstract

Despite the understandable attention devoted since 9/11 to international terrorism, the causes and dynamics of most terrorist campaigns remain primarily local. This article addresses a key challenge in international politics – the issue of how states can best respond to non-state terrorist innovation – and it does so by focusing on the particular realities of, and potential lessons from, one major non-state terrorist innovation: the Irish Republican Army's (IRA's) attack on UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1984. It is argued that international responses to terrorist innovation would be more effective if the implications of this local case study were heeded, and if seven inter-linked principles were respected when states responded to non-state terrorism: learn to live with it; where possible, address underlying root problems and causes; avoid the over-militarization of response; recognize that intelligence is the most vital element in successful counter-terrorism; respect orthodox legal frameworks and adhere to the democratically established rule of law; coordinate security-related, financial and technological preventative measures; and maintain strong credibility in counter-terrorist argument.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-511
JournalInternational Politics
Volume50
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2013

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