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Scholar urges West not to declare war on terrorists

Published 29/05/2016

Tony Blair advocated a ground war
Tony Blair advocated a ground war

Declaring war on terrorists is playing into their hands, a leading terrorism scholar has said.

Professor Louise Richardson said Western governments that called for a war on terrorists were "playing into their hands," just days after former prime minister Tony Blair called for a "proper ground-war" against so-called Islamic State.

Prof Richardson, who in January became the first female Vice Chancellor of Oxford University, is an international terrorism scholar and has previously lectured at Harvard University.

During an appearance on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs she said Britain and the Western world handed too much power to terrorists.

She said: "Ultimately I see terrorism as a political not a military issue. Terrorists are invariably out-manned and out-gunned by their opponents.

"What they (terrorists) are deliberately trying to do is to provoke governments into an overreaction.

"If terrorism could have been solved militarily it would have been solved."

Her comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron rejected a call from Mr Blair to commit ground troops in the battle against Islamic State earlier this week.

The Prime Minister insisted that the UK had the "right policy" of participating in air strikes against IS - also known as Daesh - in Iraq and Syria, while offering support to home-grown fighters on the ground.

Mr Blair had said to defeat IS "you are going to have to go and wage a proper ground war against them".

But Prof Richardson said it was not possible to declare victory in the war on terror within a free society.

She warned that Western governments should be careful not to alienate "communities within their own countries from which these groups are recruiting".

"The best source of the intelligence on the bad guys operating in our societies are the communities in which they operate."

She added: "We need to ensure that we have the loyalty of the communities so that they will turn in the extremists."

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From Belfast Telegraph