Almost a decade after the horrific events of September 11 it is timely to reflect on some of the lessons learned from the global ‘war on terror’. The evolution of a more sophisticated understanding of the threat posed by contemporary terrorism has cast doubt on the value and accuracy of using a war metaphor to define an effective global response. Terrorism is fundamentally the use of intimidation and fear to force major social and political change. The willingness of terrorists to use indiscriminate force against civilians means that terrorism falls outside the scope of the international laws governing armed conflict. In responding to terrorism with extreme (war-like) measures, there is a risk that the state could damage the social bonds that are the foundation for a cohesive, peaceful, inclusive, and resilient society.