The Trouble with Terror

Liberty, Security and the Response to Terrorism

The Trouble with Terror

What is terrorism and can it ever be defended? Beginning with its definition, proceeding to its possible justifications, and culminating in proposals for contending with and combating it, this book offers a full theoretical analysis of the issue of terrorism. Tamar Meisels argues that, regardless of its professed cause, terrorism is diametrically opposed to the requirements of liberal morality and can only be defended at the expense of relinquishing the most basic of liberal commitments. Meisels opposes those who express sympathy and justification for Islamist (particularly Palestinian) terrorism and terrorism allegedly carried out on behalf of developing nations, but, at the same time, also opposes those who would tolerate any reduction in civil liberties in exchange for greater security. Calling wholeheartedly for a unanimous liberal front against terrorism, this is a strong and provocative attempt to address the tension between liberty and security in a time of terror.


The Trouble with Terror addresses an important and controversial topic without pulling punches, but also without losing sight of scholarly values – it has all the force of a polemic, but without the vices thereof.”
Chris Brown, London School of Economics

“Tami Meisels adds a new and distinctive voice to the debate about terrorism and the relation between security considerations and civil liberties. This book combines an emphatic and hardline condemnation of those who express sympathy for the aims and strategies of terrorism, with a profound grasp of the difficulties associated with many of the tactics - such as targeted assassination or coercive interrogation - that are used in the struggle against terrorism. Above all it is an engaged book – engaged in debate with recent writings on these matters, engaged with the values that are endangered both by terrorism and by the tactics that are used against it, and engaged wholeheartedly with the actual events in Israel and elsewhere that have given rise to these dilemmas.”
Jeremy Waldron, University Professor, NYU Law School

“Tamar Meisels writes about some of the hardest moral/political questions with great philosophical sophistication and historical insight. But what marks this book above all is her luminous common sense.”
Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey

'This book offers a theoretical analysis of the issue of terrorism. … this is a strong and provocative attempt to address the tension between liberty and security.' Oxfam: Development Resources Review