Javier Argomaniz and Diego Muro: Media Interviews

These interviews were about the effectiveness of Spanish counter-terror policies and the impact of terrorism on elections.

Dr Javier Argomaniz

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054cgdm (30.10)

Dr Diego Muro

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054cgk9 (28.00)

http://play.cadenaser.com/audio/cadenaser_hoyporhoy_20170606_080000_090000/ (15.39)


Tim Wilson - Sectarian Violence: A Junk Category of Analysis

On 5 June Dr Tim Wilson gave a lecture entitled 'Sectarian Violence: A Junk Category of Analysis?' at the Oxford Seminar for the Study of Violence, Wolfson College, Oxford. A lively general discussion followed Wilson's survey of various grisly horrors stretching from Northern Ireland to Syria.

Tim Wilson - After the London Attack (3rd June 2017)

The attacks of the 22 March, 22 May and now 3 June 2017 across the UK have showed very considerable variation in terms of their modality and choice of targets. They range from an attack on the iconic home of British democracy (22 March) towards an attempt to kindle a war on public relaxation, with massacres at a pop concert in Manchester (22 May) and on pubs and bars around London Bridge (3 June).

Only the Manchester bomb attack showed any technical prowess here: the other attacks look rather opportunistic and improvised using an emergent template of a vehicle assault followed by a knife rampage. Such atrocities are low-tech in execution, but they rely upon state-of-the-art communications to generate a wider resonance. There is an inverse relationship between means and effects here. Thus, a tactically-crude attack can be launched in the full knowledge that a crowded street will be full of camera footage – dramatic images are guaranteed.

Yet for all their variation, all three of these attacks fully shared one common feature: that all five of the attackers went out, apparently, with a firm death wish and absolutely no intention of coming back. Even though only the Manchester attacker, Salman Abedi, actually blew his own physical frame into fragments, it is hard to believe the other four attackers did not expect to be gunned down - as they all promptly were. Here Prime Minister May’s proposal of longer custodial sentences for those who flirt with joining such missions seem unlikely to have much deterrence effect. If anything it may risk enhancing ‘rebel chic’: the perceived Islamist ‘glamour’ that pulls in discontented youth and gives them a cause and their lives – or, indeed, carefully staged deaths – meaning.

One should, of course, have a considerable measure of sympathy for all those from Theresa May downwards whose unenviable job it is to protect a society whose expectations of total protection and safety are quite so extraordinarily high. (After all, this is an age where you cannot buy a coffee without the cup carrying a warning that it might scald you.) In particular, the pressures on the police at the sharp end of the threat bear sympathetic assessment. Just over 100 years ago – in the Sydney Street siege of 1911 – the rules of engagement for the Metropolitan Police were so strict that they had to knock on the door of the anarchist hide-out and get themselves shot before they were allowed to fire back. Now they are expected to gun down suspected bombers accurately and within minutes. In 2017 they have done so flawlessly: in 2005, with the tragic killing of Jean-Charles de Menezes they did not. That must weigh on the minds of senior commanders such as Cressida Dick.

Perhaps most urgently, though, we also need to keep some wider sense of proportion here. Such terrorist attacks – which typically come in spasms, and then fade away – are an existential threat only to those individuals highly unfortunate enough to be caught directly in their path. For those maimed or bereaved or traumatised, the effect of such horrors may well be devastating and permanent. But societies are complex and resilient entities; and their continued existence is in no way fundamentally threatened by such atrocities.

There are, perhaps, lessons we can learn here from the 1970s when terrorism accounted for more victims across Western Europe than it does today. Yet back then the horrors of the day tended not to be discussed as an existential threat to civilisation – if only because any reflective person could see that blowing drinkers to bits in Birmingham and Guildford pubs did not represent the same type of generalised threat as a nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union.

The spectacle of 50,000 people turning up for the One Love Concert in Manchester on Sunday 4 June was an enormously resonant one: since the possibility of some sort of repeated attack must, one imagine, have crossed most peoples’ minds. And against the generally toxic post-Brexit backdrop, the gestures of support from other European capitals are all the more poignant. Synecdoche can make for powerful symbolic signalling – the Eiffel Tower dims its lights in solidarity with London; the Brandenburg Gate carries the projection of a giant Union Jack, and so on. Yet such gestures also perhaps inadvertently risk not only reinforcing these icons as terrorist targets in their own right, but also entrenching the suggestion that crudely-staged atrocities of tiny numbers of malcontents are somehow powerful existential assaults on whole cities, and indeed, nations. In the wake of the social media revolution, it is clearly impossible to return to the strategy of denying terrorists ‘the oxygen of publicity’. But we should certainly be wary, however unintentionally, of reinforcing their deluded world views and narratives.

Dr Tim Wilson

5 June 2017

Book Review: Combatants of Muslim Origin in European Armies in the Twentieth Century: Far from Jihad

Combatants of Muslim Origin in European Armies in the Twentieth Century: Far from Jihad edited by Xavier Bougarel, Raphaëlle Branche and Cloé Drieu

Reviewed by
Sneha Reddy (PhD Candidate at CSTPV)


About: Combatants of Muslim Origin effectively brings the experiences of non-western combatants in European armies to the forefront and is therefore essential reading for both scholars of military history and international relations who are keen to deepen their understanding of this subject. It is also valuable to researchers seeking works published in English that take a non-Anglocentric approach to the world wars.

Read the review