Since the end of the Cold War, academics have turned from convoluted iterations
of deterrence theory and strategic posture to considerations of the complex security
environment engendered by globalisation and multi-polarity, a world populated
by a bewildering range of actors and threats. Since the early 1990s this literature
has been further swelled by work concerned with the nature of terrorism and, after
9/11 particularly, what can be done about it. Ronald Crelinsten’s Counterterrorism,
the first in Polity’s new series, ‘Understanding Terrorism,’ takes a significant step
towards redressing any suspicions that the terrorism industry has merely found
a new outlet for expansion and remuneration. His well-measured, original, and
humane approach to the theory and practice of counterterrorism is a welcome
addition to the academic literature. It addresses the tensions between liberal
democracy and counterterrorism and, as such, is in the tradition of scholars such
as Paul Wilkinson, to whom Crelinsten acknowledges an intellectual debt, and
Seumas Miller. Those tensions are also, of course, at the heart of public concerns
over heavy-handed counterterrorism practice, an issue of which all states are aware,
even if their pronouncements and actions often belie it.

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