The Politics of Preemption and the War on Terror in Europe

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Series Details Vol.14, No.1, March 2008, p161-186
Publication Date March 2008
ISSN 1354-0661
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Abstract: In the midst of the war on terror and unilateral US security politics, many observers look to Europe for alternatives. It is argued that Europe is particularly opposed to preemptive security practice, and prefers instead to rely on the rule of law. This article examines the meaning of preemption in the war on terror, and analyses three aspects of European counter-terror policy. It becomes clear that, with respect to a number of policies that play a key role in preemptive security practice, including criminalizing terrorist support, data retention, and asset freezing, the European Union is world leader rather than reluctant follower. Instead of relying on images that position Europe as inherently critical of preemptive security, debate concerning the legitimacy and desirability of such practices must be actively fostered within European public space.

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