The Social Production of National Security

Author: 
Aziz Huq

This Article analyzes a recent policy innovation offered by governments on both sides of the Atlantic as a means of mitigating one form of national security risk: the idea that private individuals and voluntary associations have an untapped capacity for combating terrorism and in particular al Qaeda. Bold assertions in recent strategy statements mooting this possibility have wanted for any supporting account of how private behavior conduces to security. Even if the claimed social production of security against terrorism is causally well founded, it is unclear how the state can elicit desirable private conduct. Consequently, the proposal’s legal and policy ramifications remain elusive. To begin to address these gaps, this Article develops a comprehensive analysis of three plausible causal mechanisms that might yield the putative security-related benefits of social action. I label these ideological competition, ethical anchoring and cooperative coproduction. Drawing on legal, economic, and social psychology scholarship to illuminate these three mechanisms, this Article further investigates the state’s role in eliciting potentially desirable private action against terrorism risk. The Article concludes by highlighting threshold legal, strategic, and ethical puzzles in designing policies to elicit counterterrorism’s social production — puzzles that to date have received short shrift in American counterterrorism debates.