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How Should We Resist Terrorism? Some Ideas from Christian Ethics. By Katharina Klöcker

In short by Cornelius Sturm

Transnational terrorist organizations want to destroy free societies, using their twin weapons of the high-profile attack and the reactions it provokes. In the wake of a terror attack, civil liberties are routinely restricted so that citizens feel safe. But a policy fixated on security harms democracy and plays into the terrorists’ hands.

Katharina Klöcker believes that a change of perspective is needed in counterterrorism. Christian ethics can point the way forward. Jesus’s teaching to turn the other cheek yields a first suggestion. For Klöcker, this does not mean helpless submission. Instead, the key point is that we should not allow our opponent to dictate the methods of our resistance: we must not fight evil with evil.

Her second suggestion derives from human vulnerability. Violent counterterrorism measures are often based on a desire for invulnerability. Yet this ignores the fact that total security is impossible, and that freedom always implies vulnerability. If a democratic society wants to be safe from terror, it should acknowledge and appreciate its own vulnerability.