Tackling Terrorists and State Building: Terrorist Space

How should the fight against terrorism continue now attention is shifting from Afghanistan? Are stealthy smash and grab raids the best way of neutralising those behind terror groups? Or should the international community support state building to deny them the space to operate?

The World Today Updated 23 October 2020 Published 1 February 2002 5 minute READ

Dr Karin von Hippel

Director-General, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

According to the US administration, sixty or so states have Al Qaeda links. Prominent among them are Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Whether or not one refers to these places as collapsed, rogue, failed or weak states, there is serious discussion in America about how to treat them, with two opposing views. Britain may be well-placed to influence this debate.

Night raiders

One group – let’s call them the Night Raiders – argues that it is not the job of the US government to become involved in nation-building in Afghanistan, and indeed in other parts of the world. They assert that the work of the US government is over once the threat posed by Al Qaeda is eliminated. The world is full of weak states, and as long as they are not harbouring terrorists, the United States can co-exist with that, as it has in the past.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.