Skip to main content

A Counterterrorist Role for National Armed Forces? Current Conflicts and Their Ethical Consequences. By Bernhard Koch

In short by Cornelius Sturm

Military counterterrorism operations should be permitted only in exceptional cases. Instead, Dr. Bernhard Koch calls for international cooperation between better-equipped police forces, based on the principles of the rule of law. Koch believes that deploying the Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) inside the country is a threat to the rule of law, because to do so is to bring the war into one’s own society. At the same time, cross-border cooperation between security agencies is the only effective way to fight international terrorist organizations.

Terrorism constitutes an existential threat to the state. According to Koch, this is probably the most powerful argument for deploying soldiers against terrorist threats. Unlike criminals who break a state’s laws and rules, terrorists are often hostile toward the state they live in. And it is traditionally the task of the military to defend against enemies.

Rejecting this argument, Koch points out that in the age of modern communications, any terrorist attack can spread fear and terror around the whole world. Consequently, terrorists are no longer enemies of a particular state. They are internal enemies of the global community. Koch therefore believes that to fight global terrorism effectively, policing activities should form part of international law.