I interpret the ‘war against terror’, declared following September 11 2001, as adopting concepts drawn from the work of Ulrich Beck, as a projection of world risk society. Despite its global character, war against terror is constructed through outmoded vocabularies of national security and sovereignty, within which the reasoned negotiation of risk is marginalized. This exclusion contributes to the intensification rather than reduction of terror and terrorism. In so doing the moment of violence inscribed within the concept of the political resurfaces in the constitution of war against terror, Homeland Security, and the identities and anxieties that they reproduce. Contrary to Slavoj Žižek's claim that risk society is incapable of resolving the dilemmas that it exposes, Beck's approach cuts across established ideological and methodological boundaries, anticipating key transformations of discourse required to address the prevailing global predicament through the vocabularies and logic of cosmopolitan risk, rather than those of absolute security, terror and war.