Targeting civilians – like most terrorist groups do – is of course one of the very worst human rights violations. And every state has the right and the duty to defend its citizens. In fact, defending human life is every state’s most important right and duty.

But overreaction to terrorism not only leads to human rights violations – making us more like them! -, but  plays directly into the hands of terrorists by giving them the special attention they crave for and creating the grievances they can use for propaganda purposes.

This is always important to keep in mind, even if you believe that a tough response may sometimes be necessary.

Watch and listen to some of the leading terrorism and counterterrorism experts debate these issues at a special two-day conference at the Cato Institute:

Shaping the Obama Administration’s Counterterrorism Strategy

“With a new administration in the White House, January 2009 will be the starting point for a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. This conference presents solid, immensely practical analyses of strategic counterterrorism policies based on the lessons and experiences of the past eight years and earlier, and on what proven strategies will yield the most beneficial results for the United States. In addition, the conference focuses on defining realistic objectives and allocating military, federal and state government expenditures according to these goals. To accomplish this, an outstanding group of national and global experts has been assembled to share their insights, accomplishments, and strategic recommendations for the coming administration.”