Roundtable Discussion On Is Democracy the Best Defense Against Terrorism

Feb 11, 2017 - Featured, Roundtable
Date: Saturday, 11th February 2017,
Time: 2 PM – 530 PM
Venue: Royal Selangor Golf Club, Jalan Kelab Golf, Off Jalan Tun Razak, KL

Prof James Piscatori
Deputy Director, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, Australian National University

Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi, UM
Prof Rashila Ramli, IKMAS, UKM

Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa

Jointly organized by:
Islamic Renaissance Front and G25

Most observers believe that ‘democratic rule of the game’ provide a peaceful means for resolving political conflicts. But albeit the ample research being done on the relationship between democracy and terrorism, there seems little agreement on its nature. Some scholars argued that democracy discourages terrorism by reducing the appeal of violence as a means to pursue political objectives and providing a political environment in which despotic rulers can be toppled by free and fair elections, and social change can be achieved via the ballot box.

It is understandable then that the cornerstone of the 2006 National Security Strategy of the United States, states:

Because democracies are the most responsible members of the international system, promoting democracy is the most effective long-term measure for strengthening international stability; reducing regional conflicts; countering terrorism and terror-supporting extremism; and extending peace and prosperity. To protect our nation and honor our values, the United States seeks to extend freedom across the globe by leading an international effort to end tyranny and to promote effective democracy.

However, some have argued otherwise that democracy in actuality, encourages terrorism. The free environment in democracies somehow encourages certain ‘marginalized’ groups to seek further liberty by resorting to violence. Democracies are thought to create incentives for inter-group competition, thus encouraging violence in addition to reducing the cost of terrorist activity via constraints on the executive branch’s ability to take counterterrorism measures. Thereby democracies are thought to have weak spots that are easily exploited by terrorists.

This roundtable discussion will then dissect the issue further and look at the intricacies of the link between democracy and terrorism and most importantly tries to answer the question whether democracy is the best defense against terrorism.