Connect to share and comment

Opinion: Terrorism is here to stay. Why not get a master's in it?

New terrorism degree program aims to create thinkers who are able to come up with more informed and productive responses to terrorist acts.

Taylor stresses the “rigid independence” of the center, without any government controls, which makes it attractive to independent scholars and security personnel because everybody knows the boundaries.

Taylor, who grew up in Yorkshire, was educated in Wales and spent years advising the police in Northern Ireland, says there is a profound difference between the way Europeans look at “the management of terrorism” compared to the United States. In the U.S. there is a tendency to stress the military, with slogans such as “war on terrorism,” while Europe stresses a more civilian response. The argument raging in the U.S. over whether terrorists should be tried in civilian courts or military courts would be inconceivable in Britain, according to Taylor.

“The front line against terrorism is the police,” Taylor says. The intelligence services can provide the information, but it’s the police who are finally responsible for getting the job done.

Some terrorism experts in the United Kingdom think that their government being in lockstep with the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan is a mistake, and indeed the British government seems more inclined to seek a political compromise in Afghanistan than the Americans.

Taylor noted that one of Britain’s main tasks now is coming to grips with home-grown domestic terrorism, often springing from its large Muslim immigrant population, especially among Pakistani immigrants. There is an ongoing debate on whether the U.K. has made a mistake in its multi-cultural approach to immigration — to let every community do more or less what it likes within the bounds of the law. This has led to the isolation of immigrants, many of whom have their brides and imams imported from Pakistan and never even learn the English language. They never feel they are a part of British culture.

Americans used to feel smug that their Muslims were much better integrated than Britain’s, and thus inoculated against the virus of terrorism. But now, with multiple incidents of American citizens going off to jihads in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, “you have exactly the same problem as we do,” Taylor says.

Politicians feel they have to do something, take some action in the face of terrorist acts, and their responses are not always well thought out. That’s where Taylor’s center comes in. Taylor said that most of the draconian actions and suspensions of civil liberties tried in Northern Ireland during the troubles, had proved to be costly and counter-productive mistakes. The same could be said about America’s response to the suicide flights into New York’s twin towers.