Why counterterrorism is so difficult


14 September 2016


University Foundation, 11 rue d’Egmont, 1000 Brussels

Conference with Martha Crenshaw,  Stanford University, Center for International Security and Cooperation. What is it about terrorism that makes it such a challenging policy problem? Why is terrorism so intractable? Many barriers to understanding and action flow from the issue itself, not the particular political predispositions of individual policymakers or flawed organizational processes. Moreover, scholars and policymakers face similar difficulties—the academic study of terrorism and counterterrorism is often confused, contentious, and frustrating. Terrorist attacks are actually rare, yet they encourage immediate and far-reaching responses that are not easily rolled back. Most attempts fail or are foiled, so that examining only successful terrorist attacks gives an incomplete picture. The actors behind terrorism are extremely difficult to identify, since there is no standard “terrorist organization.” Governments and researchers often struggle to establish responsibility for specific attacks. Finally, evaluating the effectiveness of counterterrorism is problematic.




17h30 registration

18h00: Introduction by Rik Coolsaet

18h10: Lecture by Martha Crenshaw

19h00: Q&A moderated by Rik Coolsaet

19h45:  End of conference


(Photo credit: FSI Stanford)