How can we distinguish legitimate political violence from terrorism? What is the relationship between war and terror? What distinguishes a combatant from non-combatant? Does 'winning hearts and minds' entail a coercive or cooperative policy approach? Do counterinsurgency methods based on force and the securitization of the state work? Should we erode civil liberties and democratic values to fight terrorism? This course attempts to answer these and similar questions by a comparative examination of the theories and ethics of political violence and the root causes, nature and types of violence. This course also evaluates different political and security policies and methods of conflict management. A number of case studies of historical and contemporary conflicts are examined to illustrate the theoretical and policy dilemmas. The course has a tripartite structure. First, it examines the ethical dilemmas in the use of violence by examining the politicisation of definitions, and the efficacy of the laws and norms of war. Second, we explore the ethical issues and the evolution of counterinsurgency policies through case studies of anti-colonial resistance during the Cold War and state policies pursued against insurgents and terrorists during recent internal armed conflicts. The final part of the course assesses what lessons have been learnt, if any, and what new challenges are posed by the 'war on terror', the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, the increasing constraints on and abuses of civil liberties, and the emergence of Al Qa'ida as a transnational network. The course compares the performance of different regime types (colonial, democratic, transitional democratic, and authoritarian) in managing political violence. It also provides the deep background study necessary to properly evaluate root causes and the ethics of political violence, as well as the efficacy of political and security responses over time.

    Teacher: Picture of James Hughes