1st Edition

The Evolution of Counter-Terrorism Since 9/11 Understanding the Paradigm Shift in Liberal Democracies

By Thomas Renard Copyright 2022
    218 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    218 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book examines the evolution of counter-terrorism (CT) policies in liberal democracies since 2001, with a specific focus on the case of Belgium.

    What is counter-terrorism (CT)? While the answer to this question may seem self-evident, it has become quite complicated to define the contours of a field that has expanded dramatically in the two decades since the 9/11 attacks. The development of "softer" policies, dealing with the prevention of radicalisation, has blurred the limits of CT.

    Through the use of public policy theory and an in-depth case study on Belgium, the book identifies the key factors influencing CT policy-making, both domestically and internationally, and offers an explanation for the development of a more comprehensive CT agenda across Europe. It provides an innovative theoretical approach and is also based on extensive interviews with key counter-terrorism officials and analysis of key policy documents. The book concludes by identifying some key drivers of change and offers an embryonic theory of CT policy-making.

    The book will be of much interest to students and practitioners of counter-terrorism, radicalisation, European politics and security studies.

    Foreword Gilles de Kerchove


    1. Conceptualising the evolution of Counter-terrorism in Western liberal democracies since 2001

    2. The integral approach to Counter-terrorism in Belgium

    3. The integrated approach to Counter-terrorism in Belgium

    4. The external dimension of Belgium’s Counter-terrorism policy

    5. The Belgian response to returning foreign fighters and their families

    6. A theory of change: Public policy theory, effectiveness and the evolution of Belgian Counter-terrorism

    7. Counter-terrorism in liberal democracies: looking back to look forward


    Thomas Renard is Senior Research Fellow at the Egmont Institute, Belgium and is also Adjunct Professor at the Brussels School of Governance.

    'A systematic, thorough, insightful and highly knowledgeable analysis of counterterrorism policies in Belgium. Set against the background of the overall evolution of CT policies in the West, it is a major building stone for comparative analyses on counterterrorism policies. Food for thought for the theoretical and conceptual development of this underdeveloped academic discipline.'-- Rik Coolsaet, Ghent University, Belgium

    'Dr. Renard's book sketches the evolution of counter-terrorism since 9/11 from a Belgian and European perspective, showing how policy-makers have, in the course of two decades, tried to deal with a so-called ‘wicked problem’, that is one that cannot be fixed with simple solutions due to its social and political complexity. His study is a welcome stepping stone towards a theory of counter-terrorism policy-making – something that has been lacking so far.'--Alex P. Schmid, Editor-in-Chief, 'Perspectives on Terrorism'

    ‘People often speak of the so-called War on Terror as if there was just one. What Thomas Renard shows brilliantly in this book is how responses to terrorism have changed over the years, often adopting to the changing nature of the challenge itself. His principal case study, Belgium, is so valuable not just because it has been understudied, but also because it is a microcosm of all the key trends and developments in terrorism that have affected Western states over the past two decades. This is a great book which scholars and students will equally appreciate!’-- Peter R. Neumann, King’s College London, UK

    'Both an instructive case study of the post-2001 Belgian experience and a significant step toward the construction of a general field of counterterrorism studies, this valuable book links public policy theory to in-depth primary research involving numerous interviews with practitioners.’-- Martha Crenshaw, Stanford University, USA