1. Discuss and assess the effects of terrorism and counter-terrorism on cities today. Flashcards Preview

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Why might cities be targeted by terrorists?

Reasons why targeted

Impacts of networks and multi-culturalism

Graham argues cities explicitly targeted for attack

Risks in cities, but also resilience and positive connectivity

Positive or negative resilience (cf Neocleous)


Security and trade offs.

Security involves trading off one thing against another.

How much counter-terrorism do we want?

Taking every possible counter-terrorist measure would be unsustainable

Oxford Research Group: “it is not enough to simply insist that terrorism is the greatest threat to the world, when the evidence does not support this claim”. Better to spend on other priorities?

Also trade-offs re civil liberties


Cities and (sustainable) trade-offs.

To what extent can security programmes damage what makes cities attractive?

What are the risks of terrorism and counter-terrorism?

To what extent are the positive potentials of cities linked to risks?

What have cities done to protect against terrorism?
And are these justified trade-offs?



Paul Wilkinson advocates a “hard-line approach”:

Avoid overreaction and underreaction

Government must act inside law

Intelligence is vital

Secret services must be controlled by government

Emergency laws must be temporary

Avoid concessions to terrorists


Law enforcement in cities.

To what extent is a hard-line approach to counter-terrorism appropriate here?

Wilkinson responds to claims that he inappropriately criminalises terrorists by arguing that “the short answer is that by using terrorism they criminalise themselves”

But what about characterisation of current protest movements?


Military counter terrorism in cities.

Militaries have often acted badly in the name of counter-terrorism: especially so in cities

Armies and secret services may not follow democratic principles

An armed response allows the use of increased firepower, and can be a deterrent

But there are problems with deciding who to attack, loss of moral high ground, and backlash

A military response can undermine democratic values and can have horrible effects on cities


The military in cities.

Wilkinson argues that military tactics were effective in many ways in Northern Ireland

But more concerns re tactics in Iraq

Military can also assist in fighting organised crime: but is this bringing war from ‘outside’ into cities at ‘home’?

Military action against ‘terrorists’ in some non-democratic states been surprisingly ineffective


What did Tom Black say about preempting risk?

“However heavily we invest, we will never keep ahead of this information explosion using the tried and tested approaches in place today.

Instead we must move from chasing threats to anticipating them well ahead of time, hypothesising threat blueprints or ‘threatprints’ that can be broken down into their component parts.

Our objective must be to anticipate needles before terrorists or criminals have even thought to place them within the haystack.

In fact, even before the terrorist or criminal has been radicalised or recruited in the first place.” (Tom Black, Detica, 2008)


Preempting risk in cities.

Increasingly, the digitised data transaction is used to locate the risky and the dangerous

Aims to take action against risks before they can emerge

There is a reaching out for technical fixes

The sustainability of urban life is seen to depend on particular uses of data


Problems follow military ‘success’?

The period after ‘major operations’ proved much bloodier than these operations.

The 1991 Gulf War showed how effectively the US could fight in the desert. Fighting insurgents in cities is much more problematic.

The ICG shows how the insurgency developed from diverse groups to build a common, confident narrative


Culture, Cities and Violence

Gregory notes increasing focus on cultural awareness and Human Terrain Systems

Gen. Chiarelli treats counterinsurgency as “armed social work”

Attempts to understand the complex cultural realities of cities

But is this a distraction from the violence of kinetic operations?

And how might such approaches impact on cities at ‘home’?


Culture, Cities and Violence (2)

Is the culture in cities also a significant player in conflicts there, with positive possibilities?

There isn’t simply a one-way flow here – the cultural possibilities of cities may allow a challenge to the status quo.

The cultural turn also flowing back into policing ‘home’ cities?


Cities and resilience.

For Neocleous, “resilience is subsuming and surpassing the logic of security. The demand of security and for security is somehow no longer enough. Thus whenever one hears the call ‘security’, one now also finds the demand of ‘resilience’.”

For Neocleous, “As well as being newer, better and bolder, resilience is also more imaginative. For resilience both engages and encourages a culture of preparedness. The state now assumes that one of its key tasks is to imagine the worst-case scenario”



Cities are attractive targets for terrorists, and face specific threats

Cities are challenging environments in which to maintain security, and counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency here can pose serious problems

Cultural factors are key to violence in cities
If security is about trade-offs: what are we prepared to sacrifice, and for what?


Responding to risk: urban counter terrorism.

Can sustainable urban life be found through reactive security? Put in measures to respond to attacks which did take place

Pre-emptive security - act before any crime?


Responding to risk: urban counter terrorism. QUOTE

Or, for a Bush Aide (quoted in NYT) “the reality-based community [of people who] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality…

That's not the way the world really works anymore…when we act, we create our own reality.

And while you're studying that reality…

we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.”


We're not afraid?

Alternatively, one (controversial) line to take is to argue that:

terrorists cannot destroy the positive aspects of cities, but that security measures can

whatever measures are put in place, there is always a risk of terrorism. For urban life to be sustainable we need to live with a certain risk of injury and death

Combine some counter-terrorist measures with a refusal to live in fear and a celebration of cities