The Euro-Atlantic solidarity against terrorism
- Bernard Cazeneuve ©Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock
On Thursday, November 8, the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs welcomed Bernard Cazeneuve, former Minister of the Interior and former Prime Minister of France, and Jeh Johnson, former United States Secretary of Homeland Security, for a conference on "The Euro-Atlantic Solidarity Against Terrorism". We interviewed one of our students for feedback on this event. Antoine de La Roche Kerandraon, in the first year of his Master's degree in Public Policy, with specialisation in Security and Defence, has accepted to answer our questions.
Can you first tell us about the context in which this meeting took place?
ALR: Mr. Cazeneuve has offered a fascinating course this semester - on the fight against terrorism in France! Security and Defence students are usually the only ones who can register for this course, which is unfortunate given the importance of the issue. Every semester, Mr. Cazeneuve would invite a guest lecturer to the school, thereby opening his teaching to a wider audience. This conference is indeed a course of its own, and not a mere supplement to his course. This semester, Mr. Cazeneuve brought in Mr. Johnson. We couldn't have asked for better!
What themes were of particular interest to you?
ALR: There were so many! Let me focus on the new challenge that is raised by reticular terrorism - or homegrown terrorism. It exists in the United States as well as in our country and fundamentally changes the situation for the Department of Homeland Security, as it was precisely intended to prevent the infiltration of terrorists into the American territory. The threat from people born in the United States had not been anticipated - nor in France, for that matter.
Both speakers of the conference being lawyers by profession, they also spoke at length about the balance between the respect of rights and law enforcement. I particularly enjoyed this part of the conference: I find that it is too often forgotten - namely in the public debate - that terrorism threats can also come from the State itself.
In short, I think that this event was beneficial for all, including those outside the academic community. It enabled a better understanding of the modalities of the fight against terrorism outside the French framework and of the common challenges that we and our allies face.
What will you remember most about this conference?
ALR: The particular way in which Mr. Johnson took our questions: he came down from the stage to stand directly in front of the student asking the question. It was terribly intimidating! But I think many of us appreciated his flamboyant and "out of the box" ways that made our exchanges all the more frank.