This paper engages with that by William Tow. By discussing the contentious aspects of the interpretive traditions used in Tow's article and further interrogating the distinction between hard power and soft power, it draws attention to the contested nature of international relations theory in general, as well as to the need for a diversity of approaches to the terrorism question in particular. It questions the continuing integrity of nation-states and the ideas of rational action and proportional response. It elaborates some of the methodological problems concerning the respective priority of interpretation or prediction. Its conclusion is less sanguine than Tow's because it indicates that the causes of violence and resentment remain unaddressed; nonetheless endorsing the need for cooperative political processes.