There is no panacea for terrorism...we should not allow fear to distract us from the best ways to respond. Nor should fear stop us from saving many more lives by spending the money on less publicised issues facing the planet .
When Tony Blair made his statement to the nation on the 9th September 2001 few could have envisaged how an attack of 9/11’s magnitude against the world’s superpower could be possible; and how this ‘new’ war on terrorism would dominate Britain’s security policy for the following decade. The Global War on Terror (GWOT) had begun; this singular terrorist action sought to galvanise a global response to the most significant terrorist attack in living memory. Ten years after the invasion of Iraq, a fatal terrorist attack in London and a NATO-led invasion of Afghanistan, the GWOT endures. Today, the unchallenged aphorism remains: the GWOT is the greatest threat to UK national security. There is strong evidence however to suggest otherwise. The UK faces many threats to national security, many of which outweigh the GWOT. These threats or ‘Ringroad Issues’ are Climate Change, Innovation, Globalisation and Global Inequality.
This paper demonstrates the extent that the GWOT distracts the British Government from its more important security concerns, highlights those concerns, and suggests that Britain’s security focus has been hijacked by the GWOT. This paper will compare the GWOT in resource terms with the most ‘popular’ security concerns: Climate Change and Globalisation.
The Government’s decision to support the US-led GWOT placed the UK at the epicentre of the campaign, forcing the adoption of ‘policies, strategies, programmes, and other measures to deal with the Islamists, even though there was no indication that the UK was a target of Al-Qaeda’ . Raphael argues that the GWOT is in fact a ‘war of error’ . The climate of fear that has beset the nation from 9/11 to this day permeates much of the public and preoccupies the security sector of Whitehall. But evidence to support the claim that the greatest threat to national security is terrorism does not survive logical scrutiny. The British public are afraid that they may die as a result of a 1 in 9 million chance of a terrorist attack; therefore the probability that you will be subjected to a terrorist attack on UK soil can, for all practical purposes, be calculated as zero. Since 9/11 and 7/7 the UK have seen the greatest ever peacetime growth in spending on security , and unlike most forms of public spending ‘this kind could, by its nature, demand cash with menaces and evidence no account of value for money’ .
Politicians jostle position for the opportunity to announce each failed terrorist plot, yet they ignore other issues that kill more British each year than terrorism could ever hope to. They [politicians] find the resources and media attention to remind that ‘another plot has been foiled’ and that for the time being we are safe – but remain vigilant . ...