Radicalisation and countering violent extremism (CVE) in Australia : the impact of Australian foreign policy
Ravindran, Ajay Karthik
Date of Issue2019-05-17
S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
Islamist Terrorism in Australia is a subject which attracts considerable attention. Academically, there is consensus that radicalisation in Australia shares some traits with similar phenomena in other countries, but that it also demonstrates some unique aspects which other states may not witness, such as a tendency for Australian jihadists to be undereducated and underemployed compared to the average Australian. This is combined with identity factors such as an “us versus them” mentality, and generational migrant struggles with cultural and religious belonging. There are several sources however which point to an underlying and understated influence of Australian foreign policy in radicalisation, which this paper aims to uncover. My contention is that Australia’s posture in the wider world plays a significant role in fuelling domestic radicalisation. This is seen not only in academic literature, but from interviews with detainees, terrorist organisations, and from other stakeholders. With this in mind, I attempt to explain how and why this occurs in an Australian context. I believe social identity and social movement theories are helpful frameworks in this analysis. When Australian foreign policy is taken into account with domestic situations and cultural factors, radicalisation takes on a certain trajectory. With this understanding, I assess Australia’s efforts in its Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) policy. I find that although despite good intentions, the actual groundwork and execution can often lead to ineffective outcomes. In particular, CVE approaches do not take into account the national-level drivers of radicalisation (including foreign policy, which also influences harmful public discourse), and place too much of the burden on Muslim communities. My recommendations aim to address these issues, calling for the state to examine and articulate its foreign policy to the public, and an urgent need to begin fostering stronger cross-cultural relations.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science::International relations