Playing Politics with Terrorism

A User's Guide

Edited by
October 2007 9781850658474 334pp
Out of print
October 2006 9781850658634 334pp


While governments are obliged to protect society and bring terrorists to justice, their effectiveness in tackling terrorism without undermining the support of the population for law and order or jeopardising basic liberties is paramount. In dealing with extremism, governments have found it difficult to balance the imperatives of security and the rights of liberty. That said, neither lethargy nor hysteria is conducive to ensuring national security. Rather, steely determination grounded in facts and sound judgments about the challenges confronting us are required. The exaggeration by governments of a terrorist threat in order to sustain a credible anti-terrorism narrative, to manipulate public opinion, to push through draconian legislation or even to win elections are not novelties of the post-9/11 world, but as the contributors to this book point out, governments in many countries, from Putin’s Russia and Fujimori’s Peru to Italy in the 1970s, have stumbled towards repressing the very liberty and democratic culture which the terrorists seek to destroy.

Table of contents

1. Introduction
George Kassimeris

2. Terrorism: ‘The Great Game’
Martin A. Miller

3. The Aldo Moro Murder Case as Politics
Richard Drake

4. Playing Politics with Terror: The Case of Fujimori’s Peru
Jo-Marie Burt

5. The Use and Abuse of Terror: The Construction of a False Narrative on the Domestic Terror Threat
Peter Oborne

6. Britain and the IRA: Legacies of Restraint
Jonathan Stevenson

7. A Nested Game: Playing Politics with Terrorism in the United States
Leonard Weinberg and William Eubank

8. The Politics of Fear: Writing the Terrorist Threat in the War on Terror
Richard Jackson

9. Politics Vs. Terrorism: The Madrid Case
Javier Jordán and Nicola  Horsburgh

10. A Conjurer’s Game: Vladamir Putin and the Politics of Presidential Prestidigitation
Robert Saunders

11. A Return to the Middle Ages? Australia’s Counterterrorism Law and Policy in a post-9/11 World
Christopher Michaelsen

12. Talking Terror: Hype, Facts and the Media
Mark Huband

13. The Terrorism Industry: The Profits of Doom
John Mueller

14. Epilogue: The Dangers of Playing Politics with Terrorism
Paul Wilkinson


‘An extraordinary collection of original, penetrating and compellingly written essays, Playing Politics with Terrorism: A User’s Guide challenges all our assumptions about the relationship between democracy and terrorism. An eye-opener of a book on the world after 9/11.’ — Jessica Stern, Harvard University, author, The Ultimate Terrorists

‘Brilliant, mind-opening stuff.’ — The Independent, chosen as one of David Crystal’s best books of 2007

‘This powerful collection of essays is at the same time both a radical and traditional examination of the politics of terror. Radical in that it presents terrorism as a complex phenomenon rooted in real life experience—best understood and combated by open minds with the support of fully-briefed populations. And traditional in that it expects political leaders to tell the truth about terror insofar as they can—and that to exploit the fears of the public for political gain is as counter-productive as it is currently widespread.’ — Crispin Black, former Cabinet Office Intelligence Analyst and author of 7-7 The London Bombings: What Went Wrong?


George Kassimeris, Professor of Security Studies at Wolverhampton University, is the author/editor of seven books including Inside Greek TerrorismEurope’s Last Red Terrorists: The Revolutionary Organisation 17 November, The Barbarisation of Warfare and Playing Politics with Terrorism: A User’s Guide.

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