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Blurred lines and false dichotomies: Integrating counterinsurgency into the UK’s domestic ‘war on terror’

Discussions on PolicyRegions

Critical_Social_Policy_journalJournal abstract

The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy (CONTEST) seeks to pursue individuals involved in suspected terrorism (‘Pursue’) and seeks to minimise the risk of people becoming ‘future’ terrorists by employing policies and practices structured to pre-emptively incapacitate and socially exclude them (‘Prevent’). This article demonstrates that this two-pronged approach is based on a framework of counterinsurgency; a military doctrine used against non-state actors that encourages, amongst other things, the blanket surveillance of populations and the targeting of propaganda at them. The use of counterinsurgency theory and practice in the UK’s ‘war on terror’ blurs the distinction between Pursue and Prevent, coercion and consent, and, ultimately, civilian and combatant. This challenges the liberal claim that counter-terrorism policies, especially Prevent, are about social inclusivity or ‘safeguarding’ and that the UK government is accountable to the people.

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