Introduction to special issue on what criminology can say about the war on terror

Hudson, Barbara & Walters, Reece (2009) Introduction to special issue on what criminology can say about the war on terror. The British Journal of Criminology, 49(5), pp. 603-608.

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On 20 September 2001, the former US President, George W. Bush, declared what is now widely, and arguably infamously, known as a ‘war on terror’. In response to the fatal 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, President Bush identified the US military response as having far-reaching and long-lasting consequences. It was, he argued, ‘our war on terror’ that began ‘with al Qaeda, but … it will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated’ (CNN 2001). This was to be a war that would, in the words of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, seek to eliminate a threat that was ‘aimed at the whole democratic world’ (Blair 2001). Blair claimed that this threat is of such magnitude that unprecedented measures would need to be taken to uphold freedom and security. Blair would later admit that it was a war that ‘divided the country’ and was based on evidence ‘about Saddam having actual biological and chemical weapons, as opposed to the capability to develop them, has turned out to be wrong’ (Blair 2004). The failures of intelligence ushered in new political rhetoric in the form of ‘trust me’ because ‘instinct is no science’ (Blair 2004).

The war on terror has been one of the most significant international events in the past three decades, alongside the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the unification of Europe and the marketization of the People's Republic of China. Yet, unlike the other events, it will not be remembered for advancing democracy or sovereignty, but for the conviction politics of particular politicians who chose to dispense with international law and custom in pursuit of personal instincts that proved fatal.

Since the invasions of Afghanistan in October 2001 and …

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ID Code: 49631
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: war on terror, criminology, terrorism
DOI: 10.1093/bjc/azp042
ISSN: 0007-0955
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > CRIMINOLOGY (160200)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 The Authors
Copyright Statement: Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies (ISTD).
All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:
Deposited On: 12 Jun 2012 00:58
Last Modified: 12 Jun 2012 00:59

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