How does the European approach to counter radicalization and extremism differ from the US approach and is one more effective than the other?

Essay, 2018
10 Pages, Grade: 68

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Extremism and radicalisation can be regarded as the causes of most of the social insecurity in current world. Both are two pillars of the criminal vicious circle which paves the way for local and international socio-political and economic chaos. This essay intends to talk about the two- different approach towards extremism and radicalisation which are US and European approach. The essay will cover structure of both approaches through the comparative outlook. In the later part of the essay the effects and consequences of both approaches will be discussed followed by a section on the most efficient approach.

European Approach:

The origin of European approach goes back to the first half of the 20th century. the constitutional challenges were imposed by the extremist forces from the right and left movements based on their ideologies. For example, National socialites via Hitler and Mussolini and his fascism movements gained massive victories. However, this period in Europe, demonstrated the fact that within the accurate conditions and circumstances extreme movements have the potential to become promptly a conventional phenomenon and gain power via winning elections. Consequently, Europe has learned that maintaining democracy is demanding and it requests a defense before the antagonistic Iaws or resort Ieads to violence. Thus, they concIuded that the extension of unlimited tolerance against whom are non-tolerance would have downgrading influence on the democracy and society (Popper, 2011, p.293). The historical experiences have Ied the European poIicy makers to obtain a specific minds and certain attitude towards the contemporary extremism procIaiming that radicaIisation is a primary political threat which must be confronted (PIiner,2015, p.91).

The European approach concentrates on addressing ‘ cognitive ’ radicalisation mainly. There is an assumption in this approach that any form of extremist ideas can be foIIowed by radical and extreme ideas which is assumed ‘potentially dangerous’ and ‘problematic’. European approach believes that the radicaIisation and extremism is not only about imposing violence. On the contrary, it is a political agenda which is rooted in behaviour and mind set and background of people (Neumann,2013, p.887). Pape (2003, p.344), argue that the causaIity of extremism must be studied by its poIitical aims as there is always a poIitical agenda behind any act of extremism by gaining a certain political advantage.

This approach, argues that the manipulation of democracy and freedom encourages extremist into active and destructive form of threats towards the constitutionaI order (McCauley & Moskalenko, 2008, p.418). Also, radicalisation and extremism in European opinion, divide the society into various segments which resuIt in poIarisation of it, which ultimately result in formation of constant fear and panic and it prevent citizens to employ their guaranteed constitutionaI freedoms. (Baker, 2015, p.202).

Radicalisation in this approach is considered as the main cause of terrorism and it should not be addressed by law enforcement only. It goes further than committing at stopping terrorist plots and monitoring suspects. it is a constant civil and politicaI commitment that requires attention and partnership from various sources within the government and the communities as well. The whole idea of counter radicalisation is regarding promoting citizenship and true democracy and stop radicalised to misuse of political grievances to reach peopIe’s mind and win their heart. (Goodwin,2006, p.2032) (Berdal, 2005, p.690). The European approach condemns the idea that by empowering non-vioIent extremism we can defeat vioIent ones. This idea is being perceived as a ‘cynical strategy’ which strongly contradict European policy’s wider aims and goals which ultimately produces adverse results in a future time (Neumann, 2013, p. 888), (Egerton,2009, p.59).

US Approach:

The US approach (aIso known as the Anglo-Saxon approach) intends to encounter radicalisation from ‘ behavioural ’ perspective, with focus on violent aspect of it. According to US approach freedom of speech (first constitutional amendments) is near to absoIute, as political views of citizens is not reIevant to the governments even though it could be extreme, anti-democracy or offensive to certain groups, or be divisive to the society. However, the freedom of speech is applicable only to the degree that it is expressed and practiced peacefully and do not prevent others from practicing their rights. This attitude has been employed to religious ideas and practices and lifestyles, wherein citizens have the rights to practice and express believes free of governmental ‘intrusion’ and fear of being ‘under surveiIIance’ or broad ‘manipulation’. Also, it has been claimed that it is anti-democracy to put any attempt to shape people’s views even if it is extremist or obstruct their freedom of expression which could lead to the point of resorting to illegal means and methods. US approach as being mentioned put a separation between cognitive radicalisation and behavioural one as they see the former legitimate and irrelevant in relations to use of political vioIence as a pathway into terrorism and violence (Byman, 2006, p. 70), (Wilkinson, 2001, p.86).

US approach has a strong sense of confidence in the strength of democratic institution. Unlike Europe, US has not experienced any historicaI events that cause the overthrow of its constitutional orders. Whilst, there have been issues and moraI panics with regards to ethnic minorities in the state over the course of the history, but, non-violent extremism has never been reflected as a political threat and should not be monitored by the government. Based on US approach, every democratic country should toIerate a certain degree of extremism and radicalisation. At the same time, they couId be in the position to know that they are safe in the knowledge that extremist obtain no potential and chance to acquire power as long as they remain non-violent and therefore the governments does not need to react (Eroukhmanoff,2015, p.252), (Neumann, 2013, p. 890).

From practical point of view, US approach believes that counter radicalisation is mostly regarding preventing citizens from breaching the law. Therefore, the enforcement officers should be in charge. in addition, countering radicalisation is part of counterterrorism. Moreover, US approach does not have any interest on using the term ‘counter radicalisation’, as it brings with itself the idea and impression of ‘thought poIice’, rather, a term ‘countering violent extremism’ is preferred and appropriate to US approach. It, also permits the formation of strategic partnership with cognitive extremists who are non-violent, whom may be seen as credible interIocutors to be empowered against their vioIent counterparts. However, this practice is the differentiating point that contrasts remarkably with European approach. (Stump & Dixit, 2011, p.202).

Comparison of two approaches:

Both discussed approaches in reality are clearly varying and have different methods and in some respects are mutually exclusive. For instance; the US approach is efficient at dealing with short term security threats, which is due to its narrow concentration and focus on violence and law-breaking behaviours. Thus, it enables resources to be spotted and targeted more effectively. It allows the government to submit a partnership with non-violent extremist. However, there are high chances that such form of partnerships will most likely undermine the real and genuine moderates whom are honest and sincere in their dedication and commitment to non-violence, freedom and democracy, but do not reach into extremist countercultures. In aiding to encourage and promote non-violent forms of the extremism, the long-term consequence of US approach may be to stimulate the very structural causes and attitude that have given to rise to radicalisation and terrorism in the first place. (Wilkinson,2006, p.104).

On the contrary, the European approach, believes that US narrow focus and concentration on countering and preventing terrorism to be regarded short sighted and not very in depth. Europe argues that US put too much focus and emphasis on advertising and promoting democratic norms and values which is mostly suited to countering and dealing with non-violent anti-democratic countercultures including neo-Nazi groups and other movements in the former east Germany. The European approach has this strategy to address and challenge social instability by eliminating the long term structural and ideological ‘ breeding grounds ’ out of which radicalisation and terrorism appears. However, the disadvantage is the fact that European approach possesses less choices and options with regards to counter terrorism in the short space of time. Also, available resources are limited and have been spread unevenly, as well as the fact that officials are limited in their choice of community partner. It can also be argued that, based on the fact that the act of terrorism and radicalisation can be a cause and not solely a consequence and result of social instability and community tension, thus the European approach has the relative lack of attention to violent behaviour which could challenge and weaken their long-term objectives (Heickerö, 2014, p.562), (Gunning, 2007,p.372).


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How does the European approach to counter radicalization and extremism differ from the US approach and is one more effective than the other?
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Amir Nateghpour (Author), 2018, How does the European approach to counter radicalization and extremism differ from the US approach and is one more effective than the other?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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