Europe’s new counter-terror wars

Author
Anthony Dworkin
Content Type
Policy Brief
Institution
European Council On Foreign Relations
Abstract
In recent years, several EU member states have launched military operations against terrorist groups overseas, but have given little apparent thought to the risks that these operations involve. Military action is only likely to succeed against terrorist groups when it is matched by a political solution on the ground. Otherwise it will be ineffective in reducing the threat of terrorism and may even be counterproductive. European countries are at risk of setting damaging legal precedents for the expansive use of force if they do not articulate clearer standards for when attacking terrorists overseas is permissible, both outside and within armed conflict. There has been an unnoticed convergence in the military practice of European countries and the US. Both are conducting operations that mix attempts to recapture ground from armed groups with direct counter-terrorist strikes. Even though ISIS is now on the defensive, the threat of jihadist groups in regions surrounding Europe will persist. EU member states should develop tighter guidelines for deciding when military force should be used against them.
Topic
International Security, Counter-terrorism
Political Geography
Europe